Kent and Medway Health Informatics Service (KMHIS), which provides a shared service for NHS trusts across Kent, has achieved cost efficiencies by centralising the control of its security software.

KMHIS, which was formed in 2003 by amalgamating all of Kent’s NHS IT services into one, delivers information management and technology services to 15 NHS organisations in Kent, spread over more than a 100 different sites, including surgeries and hospices.

For the past two years, it has been running avast! Professional, antivirus software from avast!, across the majority of its sites, which has helped the organisation cut the costs of manually updating each PC’s security.

The software had been in place at some of the trusts since 2006, but KMHIS only decided to roll out avast! on a wider scale in 2008. It now runs on 27,000 PCs, 438 physical servers and 497 virtual servers. The desktops run on Windows XP or Windows 7, with Windows 2000 and 2003 servers in the back end.

“We used to send engineers out to do the updates to each PC, so we have saved on manpower,” said Debbie Hawkes, IT operations director at KMHIS.

She added: “It’s got a very good reporting mechanism, which makes it really easy to manage the software across a very diverse and widespread estate.”

In addition to the paid-for enterprise version of the software, the license also enables KMHIS to use the home version of avast! home workers, free of charge. The software is already available to consumers for free.

Although Hawkes said the software is easy to use and to scale, she said the biggest challenge was the volume of the rollout.

In addition, she said: "We did have some challenges in getting other versions [other antivirus software] off the machines."