Thursday, 16 April 2015

Health IT Storage Challenges



Healthcare IT faces many challenges regarding data storage, retrieval and availability due to the critical nature of the industry.  Check out this infographic to learn more, and read below to discover some of the most pressing challenges.

Around the Clock Access
First and foremost is the need to ensure continuous data availability, as healthcare operations must run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. With healthcare facilities and emergency rooms always in use, there is rarely a good time for system maintenance or upgrades. And if there is an outage, IT has to quickly bring the data back online.  
Healthcare facilities can also not afford to lose data.  If data is lost or unrecoverable due to an outage, the facility has to manually re-enter the data or repeat the diagnostic procedure, which is expensive and time consuming, not to mention the negative impact on patient care.  IT is under pressure to ensure that systems can survive an outage, whether it is due to a device or site failure.  So, a fundamental question for healthcare IT is how do they ensure their data is always available and/or recoverable in the event of a site (or device) outage?

Explosive Data Growth
Healthcare IT is estimated to be growing at a rate of 75% per year.   Enhancements in color, resolution, and 3D imaging have led to immense growth in images produced from PACS (picture archiving and communications system) -- to the point where each scan can consume gigabytes of data.  The use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) continue to grow, and numerous regulations have contributed to the increase in data, with VNAs (Vendor Neutral Archives) required to store patient data for years, if not decades.
In 2013, there were 500 petabytes of electronic health data. By 2020 it is expected to grow to 20,000 petabytes. IT is challenged to keep up with this demand by freeing up more capacity from existing storage systems, adding capacity quickly and migrating data as needed between storage systems -- without impacting data availability.   How can healthcare IT scale capacity quickly and seamlessly, without affecting availability?

Immediate Response Time
Fast data retrieval is also extremely important. A multitude of applications in a healthcare organization utilize a storage system to store data. As IT tries to scale applications due to increased demand, they find the performance of applications often fall below users’ expectations, leading to complaints.  After root cause analysis, IT typically finds that the storage system is causing a bottleneck.  Server and networks have grown dramatically in performance, but storage systems haven’t kept up.  Getting more performance from storage becomes yet another challenge for the healthcare IT departments, as IT has to answer the question of how to accelerate applications by improving the speed of storage.

Overlaying all of these challenges is the fact that healthcare is a cost-constrained industry. However, unlike other industries, healthcare has greater expectations and lower tolerance for errors.  This is true for the providers of care as well as the IT department.  So, healthcare IT must explore innovative solutions that address these data challenges within the budget they do have.

This is where DataCore comes in.  Check out our Healthcare Solutions to learn how leading healthcare worldwide have addressed their data challenges with cost-effective solutions from DataCore.

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