Eleven trusts in West Yorkshire are looking to rationalise their data centre provision, potentially by collaborating with other public services.
NHS Yorkshire and the Humber commissioned Channel 3 Consulting to review and rationalise data centre provision for five acute trusts, three mental health trusts and three primary care trusts.
Brian Gorman, Channel 3 director of strategy, said three to five different options would go to the West Yorkshire Optimising IM&T Programme Board this month.
Gorman said the company had been asked to include an extra option in the final proposal list, which would involve working with local authorities or other public sector services in the region.
He pointed out that this move might fit with a government push towards the NHS and local authorities working more collaboratively.
He also argued that having data centres on the same platforms would make information sharing and communications via technologies such as video conferencing much easier.
“That’s certainly one option the programme board are very keen on exploring further,” he said.
Individual trusts want better quality IM&T that will allow them to move more clinical services out into the community.
“This is not just about data centre hosting, but the ability to support mobile working from those data centres,” he said.
NHS Yorkshire and the Humber assistant chief information officer Dave Lang told eHealth Insider the strategic health authority believed that sharing services and resources with other public service providers was “the way forward.”
“If possible, that’s what the trusts would like to do,” he added.
Lang said the trusts and the board were looking to improve efficiency in IM&T as part of the wider quality, innovation, productivity and prevention agenda, and to address the pressure on finances being felt across the NHS.
“We believe part of the solution is to use IM&T as a more effective service. The programme board is not about data centres, it’s about optimising IM&T services,” he said.
“If we have a more efficient and transparent infrastructure it gives us all sorts of opportunities to do other things in other ways.
“For example, data centres are providing the data back into a wide area network, which means that information is available everywhere rather than just within the organisation that currently holds it. And that means there’s better opportunity to collaborate.”
Lang said he expected the programme board to decide on a “common vision” for the trusts to sign up to, although they may take different paths to get there.
“We are looking for a solution that suits the majority of trusts in Yorkshire and Humber. There might well be an interim solution and then a more managed solution later on.”
He said the board’s IM&T professionals were clear that they did not see managing data centres or servers as their core business in the future.
The service is currently being run from computer centres in each of the trusts or The Health Informatics Service. It will most likely be outsourced, but that could be to an NHS organisation or a public/private partnership.
“At the end of the day it’s not just about IM&T, but what opportunities IM&T gives us to help deliver other services more efficiently and effectively and of a better quality,” he said.
The chosen data centre solution is due to be implemented in December this year. Channel 3 said there was the potential for multi million pound, year on year, savings from the programme.