HCA International achieves seamless data centre move

McKesson Professional Services leads relocation of secondary data centre

The organisation

HCA International is a leading private healthcare provider specialising in acute and complex medical care. Through a network of six hospitals and 13 clinics in London and Manchester it provides centres of excellence in areas such as cancer, cardiac, neurology, paediatrics, and orthopaedics.

When it came time for HCA to move its secondary data centre to a new location, the company enlisted McKesson Medical Imaging Professional Services. This team planned and executed the transfer of PACS servers, including the database and spinning disk archive. Over a single weekend the project team executed a seamless and secure transfer of the entire facility, equipment and data with no loss of access to vital patient information.

The challenges

After 15 years in the heart of London, HCA International was unable to renew the lease on the facility which housed its disaster recovery/business continuity centre and part of its IT staff. After considering multiple locations, the company decided to move to a new leased facility. This new data centre and office would provide the organisation with greater space and lower real estate costs. It would also help ensure the HCA IT team continued to operate in close proximity to the servers that stored the company’s vital medical records.

“The [original] data centre was located on one floor of the building while the HCA IT team had taken office space on the next floor above it,” said Kaye Bonython, head of imaging informatics at HCA International.

“We wanted to keep the IT people closer to where the heart of IT is located.”

This data centre served as HCA’s disaster recovery/business continuity facility. During the move, more than 300 servers had to be shut down, packed up and transported by vans some nine miles away. Once installed and powered up again at the new disaster recovery site, the system had to provide seamless performance without any potential interruptions to business functions or patient care.

“The key objective was replicating all data so that clinicians and providers had a secure back-up,” said Bonython.

“We had to make sure that if anything happened in transit or we got to the site and something went wrong, we didn’t lose anything.”

The answers

HCA selected McKesson to plan and execute the transfer of its PACS environment to the new location, while other contract teams moved the remaining servers. Before the move took place, the McKesson team created and provided temporary back-up storage at a remote location for an additional copy of the PACS long-term archive. Even though all data would continue to be available in the primary back-up, which remained in its current location, pulling studies from the primary copy in case of server failure could negatively impact the PACS environment and its daily functions.

The team also assembled an array of spare parts and equipment to have on hand in case it needed to rebuild or replace servers or storage due to unexpected hardware failure. They also worked closely with other providers to help ensure that services such as network WAN connectivity, electrical power, and other services were in place and tested. One of the primary goals was to maintain or improve performance. The McKesson team created a baseline of system performance for servers and infrastructure prior to the move to confirm that the same or better level of performance at the new facility was achieved.

Once all preparations for the move were complete, HCA’s equipment was packed up and moved over the course of a Friday night and Saturday morning when most offices were closed. After unloading, installing, inspecting and testing, the entire system was up and running by 3pm that afternoon.

The results

The transfer of HCA’s PACS was successfully completed with no interruption in service or change in the level of performance for either hospitals or clinics. The new facility provided the company with additional space for its equipment and new offices for the IT staff who manage it.

“Our clinicians and staff didn’t know the data centre move had happened and there were no disruptions at all to the business,” said Bonython.

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