Building Blocks for a Health Care Data Archive
Between 70% and 80% of information generated by PACS and other health care systems is static, unchanging data. This vast quantity of data is best managed in a health care archive that is managed by IT, but made available to all departments throughout the organization.
A health care archive is a centralized repository that provides the appropriate protection based on the profile of the data. This repository should have the ability to store the data intelligently and to leverage the mix of media assets available in the organization. This includes reserving the highest cost storage assets—typically, fiber-channel disk in a storage area network—for the dynamic data and managing static data on more cost-effective media, such as lower cost disk, optical, tape, or even cloud.
When the management of a centralized repository is placed where it belongs—in the hands of IT professionals with the knowledge and expertise to protect and manage the organization’s critical data—storage to the end user becomes a service to be consumed, not a burden to be managed.
Storage as an IT service also allows the organization to reap the benefits of an enterprise health care archiving strategy. This strategy eliminates storage silos, optimizes existing storage assets, facilitates data interoperability, and provides a level of data protection that enhances an organization’s disaster recovery strategy. And it does all this while delivering a strong return-on-investment (ROI) in existing and future storage infrastructure.
Optimizing Storage Assets
With the elimination of departmental storage silos, IT can begin the process of optimizing the storage assets of the entire organization. Economies of scale take effect as expensive tier-one storage can be consolidated and leveraged by all of the applications that require it. Under the central management of IT, subsequent storage tiers can be deployed in a manner that maximizes their effectiveness by matching the value of the data to the underlying performance characteristics and availability of the storage on which it resides.
With the aid of a central storage management framework that cuts across applications and vendors, IT can repurpose—rather than eliminate—aging storage assets, thereby freeing budget for other IT initiatives. And when the time does come to retire existing storage assets and migrate data to new platforms, IT can perform these migrations seamlessly, without impact to end users or applications.
Interoperability Helps Realize Value of Data
In health care, consolidating the physical management of storage is only part of the benefit. Along with storage silos come data silos, which often hinder interoperability of systems. Without someone driving a strategic vision for enterprise-wide content access and sharing, health care information remains locked in these departmental silos, which inhibits the organization from realizing the full value of the data.
With a truly health care-aware archive in place, the CIO can now collaborate with peer department heads to facilitate enhanced data interoperability of systems. To do this effectively, the archiving solution must leverage health care standards by which these systems can interact and fully exploit the benefits of shared data. These standards include:HL7 (Health Level 7)—for the exchange, integration, sharing, and retrieval of electronic health information.
DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine)—for the storage and transmission of medical images and medical imaging data.
XDS/XDS-I (Cross Enterprise Document Sharing/For Imaging)—for the sharing of clinical documents, images, diagnostic reports, and related data.
In addition, the archive should have the ability to index both meta-data and content to make that data easily searchable, by both applications and end users.
Implementing a Strategic Approach to Data Protection
Centralizing control of storage and data also facilitates a more strategic approach to data protection. The health care archiving solution must provide safeguards against data loss and security breaches. It may do this by methods inherent to the solution, by leveraging the features of specific storage devices, or by a combination of both. However it achieves these objectives, it should accommodate the following features:Multiple copies of data, stored on disparate media types in separate locations, will ensure survivability of data in the event of a disaster. The health care archive should employ a user-configurable, intelligent policy engine to determine the optimal number of copies and locations.
Data replication complements the multicopy strategy by facilitating mass-duplication of entire repositories of data to a secondary location.
Encryption prevents unauthorized access to data in the archive. This is critical for Protected Health Information (PHI), as well as financial records and sensitive communications.
Digital fingerprinting technology ensures that data retrieved from the archive is identical to data committed to the archive, safeguarding against deliberate or accidental tampering.
The data protection characteristics of the health care archive also complement IT disaster recovery (DR) strategy. While backup is necessary for whole system retrieval, it is not optimal for the more granular recovery allowed by an archive. Furthermore, backups do not protect against file corruption, whereas an intelligent archive ensures the integrity of the data committed to it.
Charles Mallio is vice president product strategy & business development at BridgeHead Software, the health care storage virtualization company.
Big Deal: Dell to Acquire InSite One
Two big names in the industry recently announced their upcoming marriage. Dell intends to acquire cloud-based medical archiving leader InSite One Inc to help health care organizations simplify retention of data. The InSite One solution helps customers reduce costs associated with long-term data storage and migration, and assists in the sharing of images between medical professionals in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
The combination of InSite One’s cloud-based, vendor-neutral archive software and storage services with Dell’s unified clinical archive solution will make data retention easier and let medical professionals access and share images regardless of the technology employed. InSite One will give Dell a storage-as-a-service platform to archive digital content for companies in other industries on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis.
InSite One currently manages nearly 55 million clinical studies, more than 3.6 billion medical images, and supports almost 800 clinical sites.
Several factors are contributing to the demand for reliable storage solutions. Government and industry retention requirements, new modalities, and the increasing resolution of medical images, for example, are creating unprecedented demand for storage among health care organizations. Medical image data in North America is projected to grow more than 35% annually to reach nearly 2.6 million terabytes by 2014. The potential proliferation of disconnected information repositories presents an additional challenge.
— C. Gaerig