Healthcare IT is booming. But one of the biggest challenges facing hospitals in the adoption of new technology is finding storage capabilities for the growing profusion of data from EMRs and ever more sophisticated medical imaging. Not to mention meeting regulatory requirements that dictate how that data is managed and archived.
“Hospitals expect a 20 to 50 percent growth in storage [needs] over the next two years,” says James Coffin, VP and GM of Dell Global Healthcare, in an interview.
“The problems are getting exacerbated,” he adds, “not only by new modalities but also by things that are coming down the pike, like genomics and proteomics, and also areas like digital pathology. Hospitals do between hundreds and thousands of studies a day in radiology — but in areas like pathology they do tens of thousands of slides a day. Having to store that data digitally is going to be a huge challenge going forward.”
On 24th March, Dell announced a solution to enable hospitals to better manage this flood of data that, Coffin says, is a “new storage model for healthcare.”
Dell’s object-based Medical Archiving Solution, which is based on the upcoming Dell DX Object Storage Platform, allows healthcare organizations to efficiently access, store and distribute data while meeting regulatory guidelines.
This is accomplished via:
- Intelligent, policy-driven storage that uses metadata to automatically manage the length and location of content storage, reducing IT overhead and helping to avoid human error.
- Open, industry-standard access protocols that allow organizations to choose their preferred independent software vendor platform.
- A self-managing, highly available “nearline” archive for medical content, engineered to provide seamless integration of future storage technology.
- Alignment of data with the appropriate storage to help lower expenses.
“We’re really trying to build a new way of archival and retrieval of data,” says Coffin. “Hospitals have traditionally taken a one-size-fits-all approach to this: storing the data on the front end in high-end storage subsystems, and on the back end on tape.
“That’s been a pretty cost-effective method,” he continues, “but frankly what’s ended up happening is they move everything to front end storage because they want instant access to it. We’re looking at ways of building a new dynamic data model that allows you to store the data on high-end storage but deliver the cost model they need in order to drive growth.”
Because, Coffin points out, “IT budgets are not increasing at the rate of storage needs for the industry.”
This new paradigm, says Coffin, will “allow us to build unlimited file systems that will allow us to store data … into the hundreds of petabytes.”
Moreover, he says, with “these vendor-neutral archives, it doesn’t matter who the PACs vendor is. Data can be stored in a vendor-neutral way and can be accessed by any of the vendors moving forward. That’s a big advantage for the hospital, as they don’t have any of this lock-in from the big software vendors.”
“Growth in the use of imaging in diagnosis and treatment, and the sophistication of digitized images, coupled with the storage requirements of the burgeoning EMR space, are putting a major strain on hospitals’ storage infrastructures,” says Judy Hanover, research manager, IDC Health Insights. “There is need for solutions like medical archiving that help hospitals deal with storing and accessing patient data and images in a way that is cost-effective and manageable for the long term.”