Greater Glasgow National Health Service has installed a city-wide high speed network and has begun to roll-out a web-based patient portal.
The network now links 16,000 users from seven acute and 40 other hospitals and primary care trusts, as well as about half the city's 220 GP practices.
The portal draws information from disparate databases and displays them as one in a standard format.
"When I arrived here two to three years ago there were a lot of hospital sites, some of which had network links. But they were not resilient," said Wendy Hull, Greater Glasgow NHS finance and ICT director.
"We knew we needed the infrastructure for the future. Now, if any particular connection goes down we can re-route it."
Hull claimed that Greater Glasgow spent "no more than £1m" on the project, which had already yielded huge benefits. Savings have not yet been quantified.
For instance, GPs are able to send referrals to a hospital and receive discharge summaries electronically, and lab results can be viewed online, speeding up administration.
The network is tiered, with Gigabit or multi-gigabit Ethernet for acute hospitals and some health centres, 100Mbps for others and 10Mbps for GPs and contractors. There is also a secure link into Glasgow City Council.
The web-based portal wraps information in standard XML format after gathering it from a variety of proprietary databases in different Glasgow locations using agent software.
"The trusts were standalone with a hotch-potch of legacy applications. We needed to think quite carefully how to pull them together," explained Hull.
Alongside the portal roll-out is the procurement phase for the supply of a Picture Archive Communication System (Pacs) for transmitting and viewing medical still and video images.
The plan is to make Pacs the Scottish national standard for transmitting clinical scans and video clips.
Steve McKee, design solutions manager at network provider Omnetica, who co-ordinated the project, said: "The biggest challenge was to roll out the network without impacting on day-to-day operations. It required a lot of project planning.
"Greater Glasgow NHS is a large organisation to get around to discuss and make them aware of the plans. Lots of things came out of the woodwork."
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