Kettering General Hospital

Paring a network to the bone

Enabling PACS on a low bandwidth WAN using Application Acceleration

When your database containing all your vital records including body scanner images is some 20 miles away and connected to you by a fixed-bandwidth leased line that would cost an arm and a leg to expand, some more clinical solution is called for.

So Kettering NHS trust called for it and we responded.

The WAN leased line is between PACS terminals at Kettering and Servers at Rushden Memorial Clinic.  Kettering is the Trust main location and, among other things, the location of patient databases and PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) servers. PACS Body images are complex and critical.  They are huge files because of the detail required in the visual frames plus the accompanying video and supporting vital database of information and scanner interpretations.  Orthopaedic consultants and surgeons were finding that their requests to pull up scanner results all too often resulted in nothing more than the link freezing on them, rendering the PACS system unusable.  They had to request files again and again and the stress was surpassed only by the sheer waste of time and lack of confidence in the network’s ability to deliver.

Yet we found there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the leased line as a cost-effective solution – simply that it was being overloaded by the complexity of the files it was being asked to carry.

We added an Application Acceleration solution that uses, for example, byte, bit and object caching as well as compression and protocol optimisation techniques to avoid having to transmit visual segments and data that have not changed from one transfer to another.  This has meant the Trust were able to reduce WAN traffic to a level with which the leased line could cope with room to spare – with the NHS Trust having to spend not a penny more on the WAN itself.

A significant additional benefit of this solution is that a previously slow patient database was also re-directed through the Application Acceleration equipment during the installation for the PACS system.  This resulted in downloads for the patient database also reducing by 50%