An NHS hospital trust is deploying a new secure data archiving system to meet healthcare data compliance regulations and reduce storage costs.

Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WHHFT) is partnering with Dell and BridgeHead Software to build an archiving solution that will improve the sharing of crucial medical data, such as imaging and patient history, in an efficient and cost-effective way.

With rising volumes of digitised patient data, the increased amount of information now available to clinicians is helping to provide a more holistic view of a patient's medical history.

To ensure that this information is available at the point of care, and to tackle the huge data growth and associated costs, the Trust said it needed to rethink its storage and archiving strategy.

Data compliance regulations mandate the Trust to store much of its patient data for at least seven years.

This drove a requirement for a tiered storage solution that could allow rarely used data to be hosted on lower cost storage, while regularly accessed, important patient information is stored on a faster, more expensive infrastructure.

Managing staff emails was also becoming a struggle as email and file servers were filling up and slowing down.

The Trust needed to archive and remove emails and files that were no longer required, allowing staff to benefit from much faster email and improved sharing of information

In addition, disaster recovery was an issue. The amount of information stored on the existing system demanded weekly back-ups of application, email and file data, which took up to 52 hours to complete over the course of a weekend.

By speeding up back-ups, the Trust will considerably reduce disruption to clinical workflows, it said.

The Trust has introduced an email and file archive solution from Dell and BridgeHead Software as phase one of its upgrade project.

This phase is designed to help manage existing files, emails, SharePoint sites and data that may be subject to industry or government regulations for access and retention.

The system is designed to allow clinicians at the Trust to easily retrieve and share data securely, whenever and wherever they need it, by improving relevant search results with integrated software and retrieval services.

The new archiving environment takes advantage of BridgeHead's Healthcare Data Management (HDM) system. It will be integrated with the Trust's existing IT infrastructure that is based on VMware on Dell PowerEdge Servers and Dell EqualLogic Storage at the core.

Phase 2 of the project will see the adoption of Dell and BridgeHead Software's clinical archiving solution, helping the Trust to further share and manage clinical data.

Joe Garnett, ICT systems manager at Warrington and Halton Foundation NHS Trust, said: "Storage requirements are continuing to rise as the amount of data that we share increases.

"With the costs of storage also on the up it is crucial that we act now to ensure that we are able to make cost savings at the same time as provide our users with a system that they trust will securely store data."

He said, "We are introducing a unified clinical archiving solution that will help us economically manage the storage of our data and ensure that clinicians and other staff are able to access the information that they need more quickly than before."