Bon Secours Health System

Industry: Healthcare Country: Ireland

Solutions Provided for Bon Secours Health System

Microsoft Azure StorSimple hybrid cloud data centre

A hybrid cloud solution for medical imagery

When our client, The Bon Secours Health System, told us about the issues they had with their system for medical imagery storage and retrieval, we knew the answer lay in the cloud.

Our simplified solution for data storage and retrieval integrated the AGFA Imaging Solution with Microsoft Azure and StorSimple technology to deliver a hybrid cloud image retrieval system that has allowed Bon Secours to make massive gains in staff productivity and patient care. Retrieval of medical images, which previously took up to 72 hours, is now instantaneous for any consultant.

Significant delays in accessing medical images

The Bon Secours Health System is the largest private health provider in Ireland. First established here in 1861, it has a long tradition of delivering quality healthcare, with some of the most technologically advanced hospitals in the country. However, the five Bon Secours Hospitals were presented with significant delays accessing medical images from their datacentre. Because of the size of their archive (140TB in total, with 60TB stored off-site), images were backed-up on tape, and took time to be restored and made available to consultants.

The client had two major requirements for this project: that the data must be stored securely within an ISO 27001 certified Data Centre, and that it must stay within the country of Ireland. Following a detailed analysis of the issues to be addressed, we recommended the implementation of a solution using Microsoft Azure and StorSimple technology. It involved an array of 2 StorSimple 8600 devices in the Bon Secours Cork Hospital, paired to Azure (StorSimple Manager and StorSimple Virtual Appliance) and the AGFA imagery software – backing up locally and also sending data to the cloud. It is a complete, hybrid cloud storage solution, unique in the healthcare sector.

Throughout the project, we collaborated closely with the local Microsoft Azure and StorSimple teams to ensure the solution was delivered with minimal delay and impact on the customer. We also had a storage consultant and an Azure consultant working on the project. We trained and supported the Bon Secours IT team, so that they can manage the solution themselves; however, another strength of this solution is that there was no training required for end users. This ensures the benefits of this project could be realised from day one.

Benefits to both staff and patients

The benefits of our solution are:

  • Instantaneous, on-demand retrieval of any patient images
  • No risk of missing image files (a huge issue in the healthcare sector)
  • Improved security of offsite image archives and their data retention requirements
  • Removal from the existing IT team of time-intensive and costly tape and robot management
  • Removal of demand on IT Ops within the Hospital to manage separate Primary and Backup solutions
  • Removal of the need for Individual Primary, Backup and DR solutions for the Image Estate
  • Delivered TCO savings over 3 years of 75% compared to the traditional on-site solution


Our solution has provided Bon Secours Health System with a cost-effective, highly secure cloud-based storage solution that also improves the speed and quality of vital medical data retrieval. Their hospitals are the only ones in the country to use this system; it has freed up their IT teams, who can now focus on strategic operations instead of having to pour resources into processing imagery requests.

Microsoft solution design Unity Technology Solutions
Customer benefits (source: Microsoft)

There has been no change for front-line staff; they continue to use the same software they used before, but now have instant access to images instead of having to wait for up to 72 hours. Our solution is great for patients, who can be seen more quickly by their consultant, resulting in a major improvement to overall patient care.

In terms of the allocation of IT resources, two days per week were taken up managing the backup and retrieval of imagery on the old system. From a business perspective, the implementation of this solution was a seamless process and there was no disruption to front-line staff. We’re very happy with the solution; we’ve been using it for a while now and have had no issues with it. In fact, I’m planning to start storing other imagery, such as cardiology data, on the system in the near future. We’re very satisfied with the technology proposed by Unity.

Dr Fionbarr McLoughlin, Head of IT at Bon Secours Health System

An innovative solution, unique in the healthcare sector

As a Microsoft Managed Partner, Unity was ideally placed to deliver this solution to the client. As a Cloud Centre of Excellence, with a team of highly skilled and accredited engineers, we can design and deliver innovative solutions that differentiate Unity in the marketplace and add value to the customer.

Not only is this solution perfectly adapted to the problem faced by the hospitals, it is also extendable. Other services can be added on to this system and there is also support available for other cloud service providers, giving the potential to expand the solution to meet other challenges in the delivery of care.

This innovative solution for imagery archiving and retrieval in hospitals can be replicated in similar institutions across the country. Other hospitals have already shown an interest, and we will be able to roll this out across other hospitals using the AGFA Imaging Solution. It is a perfect example of leveraging technology to deliver a care-centric solution that improves both interoperability and clinical outcomes. Hospitals can now instantly access comprehensive patient health records within a single facility, or between multiple facilities.

This project was shortlisted for the 2017 Tech Excellence Awards – Private Sector Project of the Year category.

We worked closely with Unity and Bon Secours Health System during this project. Unity’s disruptive solution is a new approach that reduced the backup time required significantly, as well as being extremely cost-effective. As soon as Unity showed the technology in action, the client was convinced. As our datacentre for Europe is situated in Ireland, we were also able to ensure data sovereignty for the client, which was an important factor for them.

Donagh Walsh, Partner Sales Executive at Microsoft


If you would like to know more about how hybrid cloud solutions can improve your business processes, contact us.