London Medical turns to the cloud to cure data headache

Founded in 1991 and based in Marylebone, London Medical provides some of the worlds most advanced consultant-led diagnostic outpatient facilities for diabetes, heart disease, endocrinology, obesity, osteoporosis and eye disease. With an international reputation for excellence, over 50 patient consultants and sophisticated modern equipment, London Medical promise each patient unique, expert care.

Key challenges:

In the past 5 years, London Medical has grown from an 8-man company to an organisation employing 70 people. Following business expansion, with the resultant increased patient intake, London Medical was faced with exponential data growth and the associated storage requirements. As a busy outpatient centre, London Medical needs to securely store vast amounts of patient data, in compliance with the Data Protection Act. However, this information also has to be readily accessible to consultants and support staff and stored in a format that can be easily but securely distributed offsite to GPs and other medical professionals.

The organisations previous tape-based storage system was rapidly becoming outdated, and in early 2009 the clinic started to look at solutions that could optimise its document backup and recovery. The aim was to ensure the ability to retrieve any lost data quickly and efficiently, especially in the event of a medical emergency, where records need to be accessed immediately, or a patient record being deleted in error.  With patients returning to the clinic at irregular intervals, long-term data retention was also an important consideration, so London Medical ideally needed the flexibility to set its own data retention rates.  Furthermore the tape-based system required staff to physically transport patient data, creating possible security and financial risks; consequently necessitating a more secure solution.


Fifosys, the UKs leading IT outsourcing company, had handled London Medicals IT and data storage systems since 2004.  The company is vendor independent and specialises in designing, implementing and supporting infrastructures for its clients. 

In order to provide an alternative to the tape-based system, Fifosys carried out a full analysis of the companys IT backup and data recovery needs.

Mitesh Patel, MD of Fifosys, commented: When we analysed London Medicals data storage requirements, we realised that security and access were the two most important factors to consider.

We concluded that instead of increasing the two existing backup tapes to four, which would again reach capacity at some point, London Medical should employ a scalable online back-up solution with automated de-duplication of data for optimum efficiency. This would not only solve the capacity issue, due to the solutions scalability, but would also prevent the time-consuming and risky practice of staff physically carrying large amounts of valuable data to the vault for storage. 

Fifosys evaluated a number of systems, and decided that online data backup and recovery experts Asigra provided the most attractive solution in terms of service offered and value for money. The existing data backup provider would not offer the desired level of flexibility that London Medical required - the data was simply stored, rather than managed, and it could take up to three weeks for a full data restore in case of a systems failure.  With up to 70 NHS and private patients coming through their doors each day, London Medical needed to mitigate this risk.

Fifosys approached Asigra with a view to becoming a reseller with the ability to provide the service to its end users directly, in this case enabling the company to provide London Medical with the data flexibility it needed.  Asigra advised them to approach Zycko, their UK distributor, who arranged for Fifosys to become a Managed Service Provider for Asigra in October 2009. That same month London Medical adopted Asigras complete Hybrid Cloud Backup and Recovery Software service throughout the clinic. The implementation was completed over 10 working days without any downtime to the business. The engineers also only had to spend a 4 hours onsite. Fifosys went through consultations with London Medical to ensure that they were only backing up the data that needed to be recovered.

End user benefits:

One of the main benefits of becoming an Asigra reseller was the increased management Fifosys could exercise over the London Medical data.  Staff had the option to change the retention rules depending on their needs, ensuring data continuity. 

The Asigra system works with live and archived data, so London Medical was able to request that any data over 30 days old was archived, leaving only 15GB of data active.  Alternatively, the system could be set to provide staff with 90 days of financial backup.  However, the archived data could still be instantly retrieved if needed, even if a patient had returned to the clinic after two years absence.  

David Galton-Fenzi, Group Sales & Marketing Director at Zycko, commented:

Asigra provides a world-class service in data backup and management. Other than its employees, data is often a companys most valuable asset and the future of backup will be as much about security and retrieval as cost. Like many organisations, London Medical has to store different types of data, each with its own security requirements. This is an issue that is easily solved by Asigras Hybrid Cloud Backup technology which allows companies to align the value of information with the cost of protecting it. The cloud is an important element in the future of storage and will see continued development.     

London Medical can now be confident that patient data is secure. As an accredited MSP, Fifosys was able to provide a security statement, allowing London Medical to tender for public sector contracts in addition to treating private patients.  With an annual turnover of 5.9million, the company can also be certain that its financial data is protected, and that business continuity would be ensured in case of a systems failure.     

Dr. Ralph Abraham, Clinical Director at London Medical, comments: "We needed to be able to swiftly retrieve any lost data, or, in the event that a patient record were to be deleted in error, have reassurance that it could be recovered both quickly and efficiently.

Now I feel confident that all of our data is constantly protected; even if our systems go down or the clinic has a fire or flood, I know we can still get the data back. Our patients' data is the lifeblood of London Medical and it is a priority for us to protect it and be able to manage it in a way that does not affect front line service or care."

Future development

The quality of care and expertise that forms the foundation of London Medicals premier healthcare service has consequently resulted in continued expansion as more and more patients turn to the provider for treatment. This growth will eventually necessitate the need for a larger data centre which can cope with the heightened levels of activity associated with an increased patient database. Patel explained: The London Medical data centre will continue to grow as the provider takes on more patients. We have already spoken to them about the eventual possibility of a remote data centre coupled with the latest WAN optimisation bandwidth technology, in order for them to increase security and retain functionality. We can offer the latest data centre cooling and power techs that London Medical will be able to take full advantage of, while also solving the headache of hardware disposal that they would have had to deal with once their machines become obsolete. As the MSP we obviously take care of this for them, allowing them to attend their primary purpose providing leading healthcare to a multitude of public and private patients.


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