Hitachi Data Systems and Ultralinq join forces to target NHS

Enterprise-class solution enables UltraLinq to reduce costs and efficiently manage its IT environment

Storing medical images will be made easier and safer for NHS organisations following the announcement of a partnership between US-based UltraLinq Healthcare Solutions and Hitachi Data Systems.

UltraLinq’s cloud-based application, already widely used by US healthcare operators, allows medical exams to be securely uploaded, reviewed, distributed and archived from anywhere users have an internet connection.

UltraLinq transitioned to the Hitachi Cloud Services infrastructure at the end of 2013 and has relocated its primary data centre from London to a Redcentric data centre in Reading. The facility has secure N3 network connectivity, a key factor in enabling UltraLinq to tender for NHS contracts.

“The new Hitachi solution has enabled our business in the UK to provide high performance and scalability,” said Stephen Farber, chief executive of UltraLinq.

“By combining the benefits and flexibility of the UltraLinq platform with the security and expertise of the Hitachi infrastructure, we have positioned ourselves to expand within the UK market with a secure, clinically-relevant solution that is cost-effective and simple to implement.”

The offering comes at a time when the NHS is becoming more interested in moving IT and data services into the cloud.

Speaking to BBH this week, Farber said: “In the UK it’s safe to say the majority of trusts have some form of traditional hardware solution in place, but there is a long way to go, particularly within the NHS, in educating people about the latest technology, and in particular how it woks in the cloud.

“There are still concerns about security, but with any technology there is risk. Wherever there is data, there is the risk of data breaches.

“But the NHS is beginning to realise that the security risk in the cloud is very minimal.

“Every piece of information that comes to us, for example, is privacy dependent. The trust can define who see it, and what those people can do with it. Information can be shared with relevant people, but at all times we know who is accessing it and what they are seeing.

By combining the benefits and flexibility of the UltraLinq platform with the security and expertise of the Hitachi infrastructure, we have positioned ourselves to expand within the UK market with a secure, clinically-relevant solution that is cost-effective and simple to implement

“The level of encryption and security associated with cloud-based services is now incredibly high and that is what we have got to get over to the NHS.”

The link-up with Hitachi is part of UltraLinq’s quest to become one of the chief suppliers of cloud-based medical image management solutions for the NHS.

“Our strategy until now has not been to focus on the NHS,” said Farber. “However, it is now getting much more comfortable with the whole idea of the cloud, so as Hitachi is recognised as an expert in the UK, this partnership is a great move for us.

“Once trusts see the benefits around flexibility and access that the cloud can offer, they are not willing to give it up. It really is about educating people. I believe in just a few years, the vast majority of NHS bodies will be in the cloud.”

Advantages of cloud-based solutions, including data and image storage, include flexibility, with those with access clearance able to look at files from a host of smart devices and computers from any location. The information can then be shared and updated.

To adopt a cloud-based storage solution trusts need little more than good internet access.

Farber explained: “The only thing that happens on site is a small piece of software is put onto the trust network, this is how it engages with the cloud. At a local level, that’s it.

“Access parameters need to be agreed, but this takes only a matter of days and it’s up and running.”

Estimates are that it can save trusts between 50-85% of the cost of non-cloud-based technologies.

“It’s a different way of doing business, and we hope the NHS will see the benefits so it can enjoy the advantages cloud-based workflow solutions can offer,” concluded Farber.

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