Feature | Archive Cloud Storage | September 04, 2019 | Tyna Callahan

Cloud-scale Data Storage to Reach Medical Imaging Storage Goals

Cloud storage can help improve accessibility, speed and patient care in an era of new technologies and increased demand by more ologies

Heath information technology diagram showing use of cloud storage.

In healthcare, critical systems are being used to deliver vital information and services 24x7x365. Clinicians demand easy, always-on access to patient data; the quality of care can suffer if data is unavailable or slow to retrieve. As healthcare relies more and more heavily on digital, connected equipment and imaging systems, the volume of data is growing at an accelerating pace. Combine that accelerating data growth with long data retention requirements, and it is easy to see why healthcare executives are concerned about storage. For all these reasons and more, cost control and scalability without disruption are critical.

To stay competitive and ready to deliver high-caliber patient care, hospitals endeavor to use the best technology available. Established technology like electronic health records (EHRs), emerging internet-of-things (IoT) solutions for medical devices and hospital equipment, and medical imaging advances such as artificial intelligence (AI) applications, all generate and process data. Their convergence is driving exponential increases in the volume of medical data that needs to be collected, organized, integrated, analyzed.  It is also made available to the thousands of physicians and other clinicians who care for the hundreds of thousands of patients in each large hospital or healthcare system. 

 

Cloud Storage Solutions

Hospital systems need powerful storage tools that make data easy to protect, search and manage. Cloud-scale storage architecture is key to orchestrating highly secure, reliable, and accessible data systems using affordable, efficient, and sustainable approaches. Developing a data-intensive private or hybrid “health cloud” is especially critical for large healthcare systems with inpatient, emergency and outpatient treatment and diagnostic services in geographically distributed locations. 

Data availability matters, perhaps more in healthcare than anywhere, because patient health and safety are at stake. Ensuring that electronic patient health information (ePHI) is kept safe, intact, accessible readily and quickly, is critical to care team productivity and patient outcomes. As ePHI access becomes the mandated norm across the care continuum, regulators, practitioners and patients expect a more unified, complete health record available wherever they go.

Having the right patient health information storage in place affects everything from the individual patient’s diagnosis and treatment to institutional efficiency and compliance efforts. Health care systems and hospitals must implement storage solutions that provide superior data durability with guaranteed on-line availability at a low total cost of ownership. Retrieval times have to be quick. Clinicians move fast and have heavy patient loads. Simplicity is crucial in healthcare environments where solutions are easy for IT to implement and integrate with other systems. These systems also need to be easy for clinicians and technicians to use. 

 

Simple Rules for Medical Data Storage: 

• Do not slow clinicians down. They should not have to wait for access. Storage solutions should enable them to retrieve recent or archived images, studies, and records immediately. Tedious searches through tape archives and long load times should be eliminated.

• Do not compromise patient care by risking loss of data — whether total loss or degradation in quality.

• Keep infrastructure and administrative costs low. Mix and match standard x86 servers. Modern storage does not require expensive proprietary hardware or hefty staff overhead.

• Keep data safe to protect patients, reduce fraud and breach risk, and avoid associated regulatory penalties.

 

Medical Imaging Use Case to Gain Greater Capacity, New Technology

Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Marseille (AP-HM) is the third largest of France’s academic hospital groups. AP-HM’s four hospitals process 125,000 patient admissions each year, and provide 3,400 patient beds. The group’s busy emergency rooms see 228,000 visits each year, and the emergency services arm takes more than 600,000 calls. AP-HM employs cutting-edge technologies that allow them to offer a full range of diagnostic and interventional services, including conventional radiology, interventional imaging, women’s imaging, nuclear medicine, radiotherapy and more. 

With all of that technology comes a huge responsibility to store and safeguard massive amounts of data while keeping it available for immediate use.

AP-HM formerly archived the medical images in a volume of just 60 TB. They used replication for resiliency, so the total amount of stored data was 120 TB, and growing at 20 TB each year. Fast-forward just six years, the total amount was more than half a petabyte and the growth rate had doubled. 

“It was very apparent that we needed more capacity for medical imaging, just with current patient and study volume,” said Renaud Masse, CTO, infrastructure management at AP-HM. “But we could also see clearly that those requirements would swell even further as we added new equipment, because resolution and number of slices keep increasing. Then, on top of all of that, more departments — more ‘ologies — were looking to us for storage, and genomics was emerging as a system priority as well.” 

During that six years of rapid data growth, the infrastructure team at AP-HM endured a highly disruptive migration from legacy storage to NAS. In fact, by the time the migration was done, warranty expiration and data growth had pushed them into an expensive territory with NAS. They then sought a more sustainable solution that met their strong requirements for ensuring broad compatibility and avoiding lock-in. They insisted on a solution that could accept the data as is, no format change required. The solution also had to work well with the organization’s broad range of applications and support different protocols, including CIFS and NFS. Other requirements were equally important, and are increasingly expected by all types of organizations. This includes highly secure, always available, proven efficient beyond petabytes, and future-proofed to scale with inevitable data growth. 

 

Reaching Medical Imaging Storage Goals

AP-HM uses Scality RING, a cloud-scale software-defined object storage solution on standard x86 server hardware, to meet the demanding requirements of its imaging systems and the users. The medical imaging archive they have set up works so well, word has spread, and many departments are now requesting to add new workloads. AP-HM is looking at how the system can help advance major projects like long-term retentions, genomics archiving, and genetic testing data repositories. 

Unstructured data in the healthcare environment is growing at exponential rates, fueled by ever-higher resolution imaging across multiple departments, long retention requirements due to both standard-of-care and regulatory requirements, and an aging population that consumes more healthcare. In many large healthcare organizations, unstructured data remains siloed on departmental PACS with expensive NAS archived to hard-to-access tape. Getting data out of silos and into a central software-defined storage system makes that data more easily accessible and reduces capital expenses as well as operating expenses

The challenges of translating technology to improvements in patient health persist. As we explore the use of ever more sophisticated technologies in medicine: machine learning and AI, biometrics, blockchain, augmented reality, IoT and other new technologies, we need to keep an eye on the foundational technology that we put in place. Data storage is a critical foundational element of healthcare.  Keeping patient data is important, but being able to access and act on the data to care for patients is the really critical part. By extension, putting data into the cloud is one thing, managing, controlling, finding and getting use from the data is the brass ring. Investing in modernized medical imaging storage — on-premises object storage, hybrid or multi-cloud —enables healthcare organizations to make better use of limited resources — budgets, skilled IT staff, and time to implement. 

 

Editor’s note: A 20-year tech industry veteran, Tyna Callahan is the senior director of product marketing at www.Scality.comhttp://www.Scality.comand a former Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) session reviewer and event moderator. She also held product marketing positions at both Riverbed Technology and Seagate delivering technologies that focused on the customer and use cases for various industries like healthcare, media/entertainment and finance. 

 

Related Content

iCAD's ProFound AI Wins Best New Radiology Solution in 2019 MedTech Breakthrough Awards
News | Computer-Aided Detection Software | September 09, 2019
iCAD Inc. announced MedTech Breakthrough, an independent organization that recognizes the top companies and solutions...
A smart algorithm has been trained on a neural network to recognize the appearance of breast cancer in MR images

A smart algorithm has been trained on a neural network to recognize the appearance of breast cancer in MR images. The algorithm, described at the SBI/ACR Breast Imaging Symposium, used deep learning, a form of machine learning, which is a type of artificial intelligence. Image courtesy of Sarah Eskreis-Winkler, M.D.

Feature | Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) | September 06, 2019 | By Greg Freiherr
The use of smart algorithms has the potential to make healthcare more efficient.
Philips and Fujifilm booths at SIIM 2019.

Philips and Fujifilm booths at SIIM 2019.

Feature | SIIM | September 06, 2019 | By Greg Freiherr
Pragmatism from cybersecurity to enterprise imaging was in vogue at the 2019 meeting of the Society of Imaging Inform
Global Diagnostics Australia Incorporates AI Into Radiology Applications
News | Artificial Intelligence | September 04, 2019
Global Diagnostics Australia (GDA), a subsidiary of the Integral Diagnostics Group (IDX), has adopted artificial...
The CT scanner might not come with protocols that are adequate for each hospital situation, so at Phoenix Children’s Hospital they designed their own protocols, said Dianna Bardo, M.D., director of body MR and co-director of the 3D Innovation Lab at Phoenix Children’s.

The CT scanner might not come with protocols that are adequate for each hospital situation, so at Phoenix Children’s Hospital they designed their own protocols, said Dianna Bardo, M.D., director of body MR and co-director of the 3D Innovation Lab at Phoenix Children’s.

Sponsored Content | Case Study | Radiation Dose Management | September 04, 2019
Radiation dose management is central to child patient safety. Medical imaging plays an increasing role in the accurate...
New Report Reveals Vulnerabilities of Internet of Things-enabled Healthcare Devices
News | Cybersecurity | August 29, 2019
Use of the Internet of Things (IoT) is booming, with IHS Markit forecasting there will be 73 billion connected devices ...
Royal Solutions and ZipRad Partner to Tackle Order Entry and Pre-authorization
News | Electronic Medical Records (EMR) | August 27, 2019
August 27, 2019 — Medical data delivery company Royal Solutions has partnered with ZipRad to streamline imaging exam
Glassbeam Introduces AI-powered Rules and Alerts Engine for Clinsights
News | Analytics Software | August 23, 2019
Glassbeam Inc. revealed several technology enhancements in its Rules & Alerts engine that make it dramatically...
Sectra Signs Enterprise Imaging Contract With Vanderbilt Health
News | Enterprise Imaging | August 21, 2019
Sectra will install its enterprise imaging picture archiving and communication system (PACS) and vendor neutral archive...
News | Cybersecurity | August 20, 2019
Healthcare data breaches are currently being reported at a rate of more than one a day, according to a new report from...