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How have EMIS adapted to being home-based without compromising highly sensitive data? | Watch the Recording

We interviewed Danny Wilkinson, Director at AWS Architecture at EMIS Health, as part of our series of webinars for Leeds Digital Festival. We asked Danny:

How have EMIS adapted to being home-based without compromising highly sensitive data?

In this recording, Danny provides an overview of EMIS Health, part of EMIS Group, which provides software solutions for GP surgeries, acute treatment centres, A&Es and so on. The company provides to around 56% of GPs nationally on the EMIS Health Web platform; a one stop shop IT solution for GP surgeries that hosts all backend data, as well as providing the equipment and software for GP surgeries to look after the records of a patient.

EMIS has a predominantly hosted systems platform so they have their our own data centres and store sensitive patient data in those data centres, although they are currently moving to a cloud-based system.

Danny talks about when Covid kicked in, stating that the majority of staff were office based. A minority worked from home and there were systems in place for this. When all staff needed to work from home, the licensing, the hardware and a lot of the network-based solutions wouldn’t have coped with circa 1,000+ staff all trying to get into the system at the same time and still provide EMIS with the ability to secure patient data. He states that they had to move exceedingly quickly to allow EMIS to continue operating as a business. The people who essentially needed access could use the VPN solution and they also considered the following options:

  1. For people who needed a secure system, they looked at a way of spinning up lots of remote desktop gateways, however this was expensive and needed a lot of manpower to set up so was discounted relatively quickly
  1. Implementing a market leading desktop solution e.g. VMware Horizon – however VMware were inundated with requests and EMIS didn’t have the right setup for it to be deployed quickly

EMIS needed to look at more flexible solution so they decided to implement AWS WorkSpaces which is Amazon’s own version of VDI software. Danny explains how you get your own ring-fenced desktop solution where your IT supplier or support teams can build an image that can be deployed very quickly on servers located within the cloud. There are no limitations with number of desktops but it is costly and it talks to EMIS’ data centres via Direct Connect.

“It has been very effective for us and has allowed us to keep our systems up and available without flooding our network connectivity.”

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