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Cisco Helps Leading UK NHS Trust Cut Treatment and Hospital Waiting Times from Weeks to Days


Cisco Community of Interest Network Delivers Patient Records and Healthcare Information in Real Time Across 160 Locations

LONDON. - Faster treatment, reduced waiting times and better use of NHS resources are some of the improvements which patients in parts of Liverpool and Merseyside are experiencing with the deployment of Cisco networking technology at St Helens & Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust. The trust has implemented a Community of Interest Network (COIN) based on Cisco technology. It links 160 general practitioner (GP) surgeries, health centres and acute hospitals to enable healthcare information to be accessed and shared across the region in real time. Local GPs are seeing treatment and hospital waiting times cut to days instead of weeks.

Dr James Heath, managing director of Aston Healthcare, which has a network of 10 GP surgeries caring for 33,500 patients in Knowsley, said, “Being able to access records of drugs and treatment not just from a GP, but any health centre or hospital, and have that information available wherever it’s needed instantly is a huge asset to improving healthcare. In the past, our GPs were carrying out various medical tests, and results were getting to consultants a week later. With the Cisco network, information is being shared much faster, and we have seen waiting times for consultant appointments cut to days, if not hours in some cases.” Better access to information such as drug prescriptions across his surgeries is helping Dr Heath manage an £8 million drug budget more effectively by highlighting waste and best practices.

The COIN connects health service locations to two data centres hosting clinical applications and data. Instant access to records in the data centres is helping to reduce the time patients wait to see consultants and specialists. The Cisco network is also helping to make the job easier for locum doctors, who stand in for regular GPs, because they have immediate access from any location to records of patients they may never have seen before.

The Cisco COIN is supporting Cisco Unified Communications and Cisco Unified Contact Centre, which provide IP telephony and contact centre capabilities to hospitals and even individual GP surgeries. Carrying telephone calls across the COIN instead of public phone lines will reduce telephony costs.

Neil Darvill, director of informatics at St Helens & Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust, said, “In a healthcare environment, information availability is extremely important. It is essential that clinicians have the appropriate information at the point of patient care, whether that is at a small GP’s surgery, a community health centre, or in a large acute hospital. Cisco technology is enabling us to realise that vision of transforming access to healthcare information and improving health services St Helens & Knowsley.”

The Cisco COIN in the St Helens & Knowsley region of North West England uses Cisco Catalyst® 6513 Switches, Cisco Catalyst 3560 Series Switches and Cisco Catalyst 3550 Series Switches. The COIN also supports a Cisco Unified Communications system which will use Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CallManager) 4.1, Cisco Unified IP Phones 7900 Series and Cisco Unity for unified messaging. The trust is also deploying Cisco Unified Contact Centre Enterprise for two contact centres and to deliver contact centre capabilities to GP surgeries.

“In today’s NHS, clinicians are facing tough challenges; they work in high-stress, high-risk and data-intensive environments that are often dominated by paper-based processes and characterised by inefficient workflows. They are also under extreme time pressure as they move from exam room to hospital to office, and they need constant access to clinical patient information,” said Terry Espiner, sector manager for healthcare, Cisco UK & Ireland. “The St Helens & Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust is using Cisco technology to tackle these issues so information is available where and when it is needed and making it quick and easy for patients to contact a doctor or specialist wherever they are located. For patients it means a better class of treatment.”


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