Our Technical Director, Martin Ingham on COVID-19 and how we can all play our part

As somebody who is married to a nurse I have always had incredible admiration for the work she and the wider NHS staff undertake every single day, sometimes in very challenging conditions.  It is why some of the most satisfying work I do at LIMA comes from working with our NHS customers.  My wife is a Senior research nurse working for a local NHS Trust and in normal times her job involves pioneering new and potentially life changing health care treatments which could benefit all of our lives in the future.  Sometimes it is easy to take for granted the exceptional work such people carry out on a day to day basis but yesterday was a stark reminder of the just how serious the current COVID-19 situation is.

As a research nurse, and like most staff in the NHS at the moment, her world has been turned upside down by the need to fight this medical and human crisis.  As is the norm we sit down each evening and ask the usual questions about how each of our days have gone and most of the time its routine conversation.  However yesterday was different.  Hers, her research team and the majority of research departments in the NHS across the currently are now working flat out to identify treatments and preventative medicines which can either control or fully treat COVID-19 for all our benefit.  Hearing her talk about the reality of working in makeshift intensive care units, with extremely ill people, exhausted staff and having to work within the confines of limited equipment was difficult to comprehend. Listening to her anguish at what she is seeing patients and staff having to go through, not only the terrible effects of the disease but the lengths staff in the NHS go to make sure patients are surviving is both inspirational and horrifying at the same time.

Absorbing what she was telling me, it made me reflect on what seemed to be a chasm in the difference that we were both making.  Yes I’m respecting social distancing and home schooling my three children but these felt somewhat insignificant given the reality that she has the strength and dedication to get out of bed this morning and go and face the same situation all over again, and again tomorrow, and giving up her weekend and doing it all again next week for who knows how long?

But the realisation is that we can’t all be doctors or nurses, working on the frontline, and it made me think about the role myself, and LIMA are taking in this situation and the positive difference we make.  As I mentioned earlier some of the most personally satisfying work I do at LIMA is with our NHS customers and I have been fortunate to work with several in recent years. One particular standout case is the work we do with Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.  In 2019 LIMA delivered an innovative Hybrid Cloud platform for the trust leveraging VMware’s Cloud Foundation technology with one eye on extending this to AWS or Azure in the future.  Over the past 15 months or so this platform has exceeded all expectations for the Trust delivering rapid scale, security, consolidation and multi-tenant services to the wider healthcare network within the Gloucestershire region.  This environment has brought about tangible transformational change to the Trust including the delivery of a new Electronic Patient Records systems which was deployed in a rapid timeframe of only 6 months, delivery of new business intelligence systems, the provision of centralised services to Clinical Commissioning Groups and adoption of modern end user computing provisions through Citrix technology.  It’s testament not only to the platform but also the ability of the IT team and the Trust to embrace and maximise on the technologies’ potential and drive tangible change within the Trust.

In normal times all of the above is a pretty impressive achievement for any NHS Trust but these aren’t normal times.  Whilst people such as my wife and all NHS staff are on the frontline saving lives LIMA are working with Trusts such as Gloucestershire to mould and adapt the technology platforms to deliver innovative ways to maintain and even improve patient care services.  This includes the deployment of technologies such as Nvidia GRID into VMware Cloud Foundation platforms to ensure that cancer treatment can continue whilst adhering to lockdown and social distancing practices.  This ensures doctors can continue to access critical medical imagery and provide remote treatments and medications to their patients without either of them needing to attend hospital.

Another example is the relative ease with which Cloud Foundation can be scaled and this has been called upon to support rapid growth in remote working and Citrix adoption.  This allows the doctors, nurses, researchers and administrative staff who work in these hospitals to continue to do so even when they may be needing to self-isolate, allowing them to keep delivering the life saving treatment to patients, not only for those suffering from COVID-19 but also those with other life threatening diseases which haven’t suddenly gone away with the current pandemic.

The technology LIMA has delivered has gone even further by helping GP’s and their practices continue functioning allowing them to continue seeing patients through remote consultations by leveraging Citrix Virtual Desktop capabilities.  This technology has allowed for the successful delivery of sometimes complex and archaic medical applications out to GPs, doctors and nurses providing some degree of normal patient care to those who need it now more than ever.

The ability to scale out into hyperscalers such as AWS knowing that security, mobility and integration is already part of the fabric of the platform allows Trusts to get on with the job of saving lives whilst the technology silently delivers in the background

All of these things have been delivered in the past 6 weeks since the onset of this crisis - this is the impact that technology can have on patient lives.  Whilst we may not all be doctors and nurses, as my wife told me this morning, we are saving lives together.

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We’d love to hear from you.

If you have a question you'd like to ask, we’d love to answer it.

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Manchester
6 Digital Park
Pacific Way
Salford Quays
Manchester
M50 1DR

0345 345 1110