ThousandEyes – providing enhanced visibility and driving efficiency for Birmingham Community Healthcare
Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BCHC) delivers more than 100 different NHS services for people of all ages – from birth, through childhood and adult life, to older years. A team of 5,000 staff provides core community health services for the 1.1 million people of Birmingham as well as a range of specialist rehabilitation and dental services for the 6.5 million people across the wider West Midlands region.
ITGL has partnered with BCHC on a number of technology projects that support the Trust to deliver safe, high-quality care, working across a range of locations that include people’s own homes, community clinics, and hospital settings. The recent trial of ThousandEyes is one example of how the right technology can drive greater efficiency and help improve the experience of both staff and patients throughout the Trust.
“Connectivity issues when accessing particular clinical apps has been a frequent problem for our staff for some time, and it’s frustrating for everyone involved when we can’t identify the cause. Our networks are complex, and previous solutions aimed at increasing visibility have not lived up to what they promised. ThousandEyes has been the exception – we’re now confidently able to explain to users where the problem lies, and what we’re doing to resolve it, saving a significant amount working hours and operational costs in the process. We’re looking forward to exploring with the ITGL team how we can make even better use of ThousandEyes to support us in future.”
Mick Couch, Technical Services, BCHC
- BCHC users were reporting high latency on the network, often when accessing a clinical app linked to the Electronic Patient Record (EPR) system.
- Difficulty accessing the EPR system was causing delays to patient care, impacting the ability of BCHC staff to carry out tasks efficiently and accurately, and creating significant frustration as teams struggled to provide the high-quality service they strive to deliver.
- Lack of visibility made diagnosing the problem difficult – reviews of the local site networks and the Trust-wide network traffic showed no connectivity issues, leaving the service desk with limited options in terms of identifying and resolving the problem.
- ITGL suggested using ThousandEyes, an application health tool, to monitor the cloud-hosted application from the client network perspective, and help identify the cause of the connectivity issues that users were reporting – particularly as, in this case, BCHC’s prior investment in Cisco technology meant that they were already eligible for the ThousandEyes licences required to carry out the task.
- ITGL engineers supported the BCHC team to set up the correct test polling and enable ThousandEyes to monitor the full path from the client network, through the private WAN network, and up to the cloud-hosted application, every five minutes. The ThousandEyes reports provide much more granular analysis and greater visibility than has previously been possible – analysing the performance of traffic both within and outside of the Trust’s network.
- In this case, ThousandEyes was able to pinpoint the cause of the latency issues as lying with the clinical app itself, rather than the Trust’s network. The BCHC team has therefore been able to raise this with the app host, supported by evidence, in order for them to be able to investigate the issue further.
- Utilising ThousandEyes to investigate this recurring problem has saved significant operational time and costs. As BCHC manages over 80 individual sites, it takes time to investigate each case raised, check for issues with the local networks, and raise the case with the external network provider if needed. The enhanced visibility now available to the team enables them to establish the root of the problem more quickly, and dedicate more time to other critical tasks.
- With the success of this first trial, ITGL is now working with the BCHC team to identify how and where it may be valuable to extend the use of ThousandEyes. ThousandEyes has the functionality to analyse internal and external network usage as frequently as needed, and the flexibility to focus on specified buildings or use cases, identifying where individual Access Points may be struggling with high volumes of traffic, where service providers are experiencing issues, or if specific applications require attention. BCHC is currently only utilising 20% of their licence capacity, and so may benefit from extending their use of ThousandEyes to further support their busy IT team.
Overall, ThousandEyes has given the BCHC IT team the reassurance that they can access the evidence and data necessary to identify the cause of network problems quickly and accurately – giving directors, staff, and, most importantly, patients the confidence that BCHC can continue to deliver high quality care, even when issues arise.
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