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UK deploys electronic image archiving in all hospitals

UK deploys electronic image archiving in all hospitals

General Electric Co. and EMC Corp. announced this week that they have won a US$200 million contract to install electronic image archiving systems in 70 hospitals in the U.K., as part of an effort to centralize communications and modernize technology throughout the national health system.

The contract, part of an $18 billion IT upgrade to the U.K.'s health care system, will combine GE's picture archiving and communication system (PACS) technology with four models of EMC's storage systems.

"They're going to be able to streamline their patient data and images -- put all the patient records in one location," said Jerry Layden, EMC global account manager for GE.

Layden said the U.K. government contract is one of the largest for EMC with respect to storage systems supporting PACS attached.

PACS technology allows X-rays, MRIs and other medical images to be digitized, stored and transmitted electronically, avoiding the need for film development processes and delivery by mail or by hand to physicians and technicians.

Earlier this month, EMC announced that it had tightly integrated its low-end AX100 array with GE's Centricity PACS system for smaller hospitals. The U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) project will be using two types of EMC's midrange Clariion storage-area network arrays and EMC's Celerra network-attached storage arrays. It will also involve EMC's Centera content-addressed storage array.

Each hospital site will have two Clariion arrays supporting the GE Centricity PACS Enterprise Edition application. There will also be two data centers in each of five regions with clustered Centera arrays that will hold archived medical images two years old or older for the 70 hospitals. Critical application data will also be replicated between both data centers in each region.

The U.K. government announced in May that the NHS in England would install nationwide digital imaging systems that allow patients medical images and records to be transmitted via a Web portal from a centralized data center to remote sites for medical diagnosis.

Vendors including Perot Systems Corp., Cerner Corp., IBM Corp. and Accenture Ltd. have already been awarded two major contracts valued at nearly $4 billion as part of the IT upgrade. Fujitsu Services Ltd. is the designated local service provider for the NHS project.

The overall project has been split into five districts throughout the U.K. EMC and GE won the southern district, which is the largest.

"We believe the networks now being established will greatly improve health care in England and will be imitated worldwide as health systems move the management of patient care into the 21st century," said William Castell, vice chairman of GE and CEO of U.K.-based GE Healthcare.

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