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Upgrading IT at Essen University Hospital

(June 2022) When Essen University Hospital was founded more than 100 years ago, computers, cloud storage and the Internet didn’t exist. And there was certainly no 5G. Yet, today, Essen boasts of extremely advanced IT systems that it can use to provide the best patient care.

With strong practices in oncology, organ transplants, cardiology, and rare diseases, Essen University Hospital is huge. Its 1770 beds and 10,000 staff handle about 375,000 patients annually. This leads to an enormous amounts of patient files to manage, each containing large amounts of data.

“Information system infrastructure is one of the key aspects of modern healthcare,” says Armin de Greiff, the hospital’s chief information officer. “It’s key to making diagnosis and developing treatment.”

24 hours per day, hospitals create loads of data. Scans and test results keep on getting more detailed, which increases file sizes. Printed records are yielding to electronic medical records that are easier to share. But high-resolution images and their archiving can easily become a burden to the network, distracting IT managers’ attention and increasing costs.

Comprehensive, low-latency digital storage has become a cornerstone of good medical care. It allows GPs and specialists to access entire patient records when they need to. Making this a reality involves consolidating data running on different systems, upgrading older equipment, and setting up communication networks and data storage systems with low latency.

At Essen University Hospital, Huawei provided low-latency All-Flash storage systems powered with the company’s own network chipsets. Huawei also oversaw the transition from the old system to the new one. The new storage infrastructure delivers extremely stable network performance and can easily handle rapid data growth. Network latency is now a mere 0.3 millisecond.

High-performance storage systems open the door to new ways to treat patients. Being able to rapidly access large amounts of data makes it possible to develop and train AI medical tools that diagnose patients faster and more accurately. Rapid access to data also enables the use of AI to develop new treatments for rare diseases. In addition, smart storage facilitates treating patients remotely by making it easier to access and share data from different locations.

By working with Huawei, Essen made some significant savings. The cost of acquisition was 30% lower than comparable equipment from other suppliers, and the total cost ownership is 50% lower, the hospital estimates.

High-performance IT systems have become an essential component of providing first-class hospital care, according to the hospital’s CIO.

“IT have become a strategic component of health care,” de Greiff says. “Using data more effectively has enabled us to create new insights."