Hinchingbrooke Health Care

Quart into network pint pot

Improving patient service using Application Acceleration

When a general practitioner’s IT link between its two surgeries started failing to deliver quickly and sometimes at all, the solution was not more – expensive – DSL rental but simply making much better use of the bandwidth already in place.

Hinchingbrooke, Cambridgeshire, NHS Trust’s IT people called us in to examine what could be done to improve communications between a general practice’s surgeries at Buckden and Paxton. The IT guys knew what was needed, of course – but they wanted to see if we could provide it! We could.

The cost of DSL being what it is, the general practice had bought a limited amount of bandwidth between their two locations via the NHS Net 3 service. It was estimated to suffice for their needs at the time. But their IT needs grew as the patient files called for from the main Buckden surgery by the Paxton-based GPs became larger with more advanced healthcare systems creating more, and more complex, graphics, analyses and support data.

They also suffered, of course, from the problem that DSL does not always deliver the bandwidth printed on the box.

Their Emis server at Buckden was taking many minutes to send the files, minutes that were wasting GPs time with anxious patients sitting beside them waiting for answers, time the GPs could have been using to decide on courses of treatment and patient reassurance. GPs just do not have minutes on end to waste in days crowded with patient consultations.

Application Acceleration

When we looked at the typography of those files we knew that using Application Acceleration Techniques would condense the amount of data to be transmitted to a fraction of what was choking the DSL links at the time.

We applied a solution using data compression, protocol optimisation and byte, bit and object caching. The results were a dramatic cure. From taking two, three or more minutes, each data request the GPs made arrived in a second or two – for all practical purposes, instantaneously.

A side benefit is that the practice’s staff have faster links now for their admin file transfers and no fear of getting in the way of the, more vital, GP/patient traffic.

The DSL link between the two surgeries and NHS N3 now has many years of acceptable performance in it – it is no longer running at capacity or anything like it. Installing Application Acceleration cost the equivalent of just three months use of the extra leased line bandwidth the practice would otherwise have had to install.