With 90 different networks (VLANs), around 3,100 different digital consumer devices and more than 70,000 patients every year, it is clear that a hospital stores and manages an extremely large amount of sensitive data. A high-performance and fail-safe IT infrastructure is essential. DATA CENTER GROUP spoke with Oliver Schäfer, Team Leader IT at Siegen District Hospital, about the project and the challenges of digital transformation at the hospital.
With more than 600 beds in 12 specialist departments, a neurological and psychiatric treatment focus and an affiliated medical care center (MVZ), the Siegen District Hospital provides excellent medical care in the Siegen-Wittgenstein district. Around 1,600 dedicated employees in medicine, nursing, therapy, technology and administration work every day to provide the best possible care for a total of around 20,300 inpatients and around 48,000 outpatients per year.
In the clinical environment, a lot of sensitive data is generated, which makes functioning documentation indispensable. This not only serves medical care directly, but is also necessary for quality and performance recording, research, and patient and staff safety. Due to the diversity of information and media disruptions during documentation, gaps and errors can occur.
For this reason, the introduction of the "Digital Patient File" had been on the agenda of the innovative hospital for several years. It serves as a link between the different departments and enables the exchange of information as well as the documentation of disease progression and therapies. This creates enormous time savings, more flexibility for doctors and nursing staff, and thus better patient care.
The project, which will be implemented in the spring of 2022, had been in the planning stage since the beginning of 2020 and was made possible, among other things, by the federal government's KHZG (Hospital Future Act), which was introduced in 2021 and provides funding for the digitization of hospitals. The hospital has taken this as an opportunity to drive forward digital patient care in a future-oriented manner.
To expand the digital transformation, the hospital information system has already been renewed, patient information digitized and finally the "digital patient file" introduced. This quickly made it clear that the current data center was no longer sufficient, that a certain level of fail-safety would be necessary, and that redundancy would have to be created.
"With the introduction of the 'digital patient file', we needed a certain level of fail-safety." (Oliver Schäfer, Team Leader IT Siegen District Hospital)
Although there was already an existing data center and additional data backups on local PCs in the respective departments, this infrastructure was no longer up to the new digitization project. This is because the new redundant data center is also to be used in the future for the fail-safe operation of the hospital information system (KIS), the laboratory data, the digital image archive, the transport systems and ultimately all digital processes in the hospital. "Ultimately, in the long run, all systems should be redundant. That way, we can work with more peace of mind," Schäfer said.
"When it became clear we needed a new data center, we approached several vendors. But who really took care was DATA CENTER GROUP, in person Mr. Hammer. Then the decision was really easy for us," reports Oliver Schäfer with regard to the decision.
Because during the implementation, the IT department was faced with a significant challenge: Finding a suitable space for the data center. "It was not so easy to find a suitable space. Space is in high demand, especially here at the hospital," says the team leader. Originally, the underground parking garage was planned as a space for the project. However, since this had to be renovated, a new solution was sought. The originally planned room system solution was also only possible under difficult conditions, as a building application had to be submitted for the change of use. So it was decided to use the DC-IT Safe Triple as a solution, which could be installed in a vacated room in the basement.
This room was once the X-ray archive and until some time ago patient files were stored here in paper form. The repurposing of the space marks the passing of the baton from the analog to the digital world. "It was the appropriate time, as the analog files were being digitized. In addition, the space is in a different fire zone than the existing data center. This also provides increased security," explains Oliver Schäfer.
It will be much easier to apply updates and patches in the future. The cycles for this are becoming shorter and shorter and the system has to be put into maintenance mode more and more frequently as a result. However, this is not possible during ongoing operation. Schäfer explains, "We have fixed times for maintenance and the systems cannot work during that time. That's why these are generally done after 9 p.m., because that's when the individual functional areas of the hospital are shut down in regular operation." With the new data center, this work can then all take place during normal operation, and that saves a lot of time.
Oliver Schäfer sums up: "The implementation went super. We are fully satisfied and with DATA CENTER GROUP we had a pleasant partner at our side."
Oliver Schäfer has been working at the Siegen District Hospital for over 30 years. In the beginning, there were only 3 PCs in the entire clinic. Over the years, he has built up and expanded the IT department, which now has 11 employees.
Translated by: Joshua Brunner, Allgemein beeidigter und ermächtigter Dolmetscher und Übersetzer für die englische Sprache
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