Derby and Burton NHS choose BridgeHead to retire legacy applications

The Trust has selected BridgeHead’s HealthStore® Independent Clinical Archive to underpin its application decommissioning programme whilst ensuring all data remains accessible throughout its 25-year retention period.

University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust (UHDB), a healthcare provider serving the population across the historic Peak District, southern Derbyshire, and parts of Staffordshire; has contracted with BridgeHead Software to provide software and services to underpin its application decommissioning programme. Initially, BridgeHead’s HealthStore® Independent Clinical Archive will be used to migrate data from the Trust’s legacy iSoft Clinical Manager (iCM) and Emergency Department Information Systems (EDIS), with other obsolete applications targeted for retirement in the future.

UHDB Identifies Risk Of Legacy Applications

Following a merger in 2018 of Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust is now one of the largest NHS Trusts in the country, with five hospitals spread across the region, employing 12,000 staff, and serving a population of more than one million.

As part of an ongoing digital transformation project, the Derby site is currently standardising its core systems and is programmatically moving functionality and data from older applications onto more modern systems. Apart from its aims to centralise information so that it is accessible Trust-wide, UHDB also identified the need to retire its legacy application estate.

As Mark Chester, Head of Digital Technology at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust explained, “At UHDB, we have a number of applications that are no longer in active use, but which contain clinical data that still needs to be accessed from time to time, whether for clinical purposes or as part of our auditing processes. In addition, we are also obliged to retain this data for 25 years. However, some of these applications run on outdated operating systems and old hardware, none of which have a viable upgrade path. So, to mitigate against system vulnerabilities and potential security risks, we had to find a way to shut down these applications whilst securing the data they contain for continued access. In addition, we understand that the cost and risk of running legacy systems continually increases over time, so we decided to do something about it now.”

There were many drivers for UHDB’s decision to retire its legacy applications. Clearly, protecting the Trust’s data was very high on the agenda, especially given the current prevalence of ransomware, malware and other cyberattacks specifically targeting healthcare organisations. But, in addition, UHDB understood the significant costs associated with maintaining its legacy application estate. As well as licensing costs (e.g. read-only licences), the associated annual maintenance and support charges, storage costs, power, cooling, etc.; there is also a staff overhead. Many legacy applications require specialist IT skills to support the software and/or hardware. Ensuring that the IT team maintains these skills requires both time and money. As a rule of thumb, the older the legacy systems are, the more scarce these skills become and, thus, the more expensive over time.

UHDB Chooses BridgeHead’s HealthStore® Independent Clinical Archive Solution

After investigating the available options in the market, UHDB quickly made the decision to work with BridgeHead Software on this initiative. “This project required a strategic, future-proof solution, not one simply for the immediate application retirement work at hand, but one that could be extended for use elsewhere across the Trust. We needed to protect our data and eliminate the threat of cyberattacks; reduce the costs associated with our legacy applications, all while providing our users with continued access to the information they need, when they need it. There were very few providers that offered a comprehensive data management platform that could cater for our current and ongoing requirements. So, choosing BridgeHead’s HealthStore® was a relatively easy decision,” explained Mr Chester.

BridgeHead’s HealthStore® provides a standards-based, central repository that brings together patient, clinical and administrative data of all types and formats from across a healthcare enterprise. Once in HealthStore, that data is not only efficiently stored and securely protected, but it can then be easily accessed by clinicians and support staff, as and where needed, either directly through a web-based interface or via other healthcare systems, such as an EPR or clinical portal.

When asked about the procurement process for HealthStore, Mr Chester commented, “developing a business case for the project was fairly straight forward. As well as the benefits that naturally arise from safeguarding data and providing easy access to patient information for our clinicians and other users, the Trust will make a significant cost saving from the retirement of the initial two applications alone. Part of this saving will be used to offset the cost of HealthStore; the rest can be utilised for other projects.”

BridgeHead Software has been a long-standing supplier of its RAPid™ Data Protection solution, providing backup and disaster recovery for the MEDITECH EHR running at the Burton site. The relationship, spanning over a decade, offered the Trust peace of mind when making their decision to procure HealthStore, not least because of the positive experience enjoyed by both teams over the years.

Jim Beagle, President and CEO of BridgeHead Software, comments: “At BridgeHead, we believe data is the lifeblood of healthcare. Forward-thinking healthcare organisations, like University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust, who are taking a strategic approach to managing their data, understand the value and impact this information has on care delivery and the business of healthcare. With hospitals being prime targets for cyber criminals, we commend UHDB for taking a proactive stance in decommissioning potentially vulnerable legacy applications and mitigating the risks associated with ransomware and malware. We look forward to working closely with the team at UHDB to deliver HealthStore and enable the Trust to derive its application retirement programme.”

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