Simplifying Storage Management

ImagingEconomics | Managing the explosion of digital medical images, diagnostic reports, and patient medical records has become increasingly complex, making the need for an affordable and effective approach to health care information management and storage greater than ever. At the same time, HIPAA, state, and local health care regulations regarding the retention and compliance requirements for medical images and patient data place additional demands on IT staff.

Health care organizations that require large storage environments to store, protect, and retain their medical images also face increasing concerns about budget and how they can afford up-front acquisition costs and ongoing management expenses when dealing with increasingly complex storage implementations. Object-based storage solutions can help with image infrastructure of a health care system from the imaging device or PACS to the electronic medical record (EMR) and the clinical desktop, allowing health care professionals to focus more time and effort on patient care rather than on implementing and using a complex storage infrastructure.

So why should the medical imaging industry be looking at object-based storage solutions? Object storage scales to meet needs ranging from those of a single department or clinic to those of multiple facilities with multiple imaging specialties and gives the health care provider the ability to consolidate image/information management and storage across imaging and administrative departments. Unlike file systems that ride on top of block storage devices, object-based storage systems provide a single, flat address space to store content without the complexity of file hierarchies, folder names, or physical disk locations associated with each file. Because it is self-replicating, it requires no backup.

An object-based storage solution such as Caringo’s CAStor® simplifies storage management and administration, allowing IT personnel to focus more time and effort on clinical systems critical to improving patient care. By providing continuous, real-time availability of patient data and access to radiology studies, all medical images are instantly accessible when a physician needs to retrieve them. CAStor also supplies full life cycle management and worm storage, automatically securing your objects with regulatory compliance for decades if required.

With file sizes as large as multiple gigabytes, medical imaging data continues to outpace available storage availability. An object-based storage solution can seamlessly scale with demand, allowing organizations to grow in the increments needed—up to petabytes—to support greater volume in studies and higher-density radiology images that are growing in size as the technology matures. New storage is added only as needed to the overall capacity and is immediately available as part of the overall storage pool by simply adding another server and booting it up. The system automatically adds it to the cluster with no management needed.

In addition to supporting large files and instant provisioning of added storage, Caringo has also partnered and has seamless integration with leading medical imaging software companies. Integrated solutions include Merge Healthcare’s RadSuite PACS (medical imaging archive software); Acuo Technologies’ DICOM image management, archiving, and migration solutions; Teramedica’s Evercore Smartstore (digital image and patient records archiving software); Dejarnette xDL (medical image archiving software); and Karos Health’s Rialto Vault (clinical information archiving).

Today’s economic climate has IT budgets stretched tight in even the most well-funded environments. Expensive storage technologies like costly SAN- and NAS-based storage are not cost-appropriate solutions for images and other fixed patient data that can be safeguarded on enterprise-grade commodity hardware using object-based storage software. By consolidating existing storage across multiple health care networks, IT administrators can leverage cost and management efficiencies of a single enterprise archive throughout a hospital or health care organization while minimizing the capacity expansion of higher-cost tiers of storage.

Storage infrastructure is a rapidly growing component of today’s health care IT budgets in terms of acquisition, management, and administrative costs. Object-based storage systems like Caringo’s CAStor can deliver tangible reductions in overall TCO (total cost of ownership) from acquisition through long-term operation. It enables organizations of all sizes to start with the lowest cost, eliminate hardware lock-in, reduce system administration and maintenance, and increase the productivity of their IT team.


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