A Remedy for Health Care Archival Ills

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A new archiving solution promises to make data storage and retrieval easier, less time-intensive and more cost-efficient for health care companies dealing with mountains of data they need to save and comb through later.

BridgeHead Software’s PACStore tool also aims to foster improved diagnostics, since health care professionals can search for medical images stored in proprietary picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) instead of hitting disparate platforms to pull together treatment files.

“We call it ‘c-discovery,’ meaning clinician’s discovery,” said CEO Tony Cotteril, referring to the e-discovery features now commonplace in archiving tools designed for corporate users. E-discovery has proven particularly useful in the legal and financial industries, where retention and other compliance issues are key concerns. Health care companies also face their own compliance issues, not the least of which is HIPAA.

“We’re able to handle the various modules [in graphic files] when it comes to image systems, provide a common archive and give a common data source and simple view of that data,” Cotteril said.

Many health care organizations use a hodgepodge of imaging systems that can make for slow going in data search and retrieval. In addition, medical image files pose an additional hurdle in that they are very large, making content indexing for storing, searching and retrieval more complex than in other data environments.

Those unique data characteristics are spurring more niche solutions compared to the legal market as well as media and Web 2.0 enterprises, which are also facing growing demands on archiving.

Within the health care segment, tech titans IBM, HP and EMC have grabbed traction, according to pundits, due to the issues around data security and increasing health care regulations. But that doesn’t mean new players offering up innovative tools can’t make a dent.

“Storage capacity demands are growing in general, but some industries have data types that are very large, especially medical imaging, which leads to significant storage requirements in the entertainment and medical and health care verticals,” said Dave Russell, a research vice president at Gartner. “That makes the PACs market unique.”

Other vendors catering to the specialized medical archiving segment include Bycast, which offers a tool that both HP and IBM resell as a medical archiving system (MAS) for PAC needs, said StorageIO founder and senior analyst Greg Schulz.

“While vendors have been shipping PACS MAS for years, given the large opportunities it should be no surprise to see startups like Bridgehead joining the fray to try and compete,” Schulz said.

BridgeHead’s PACStore aims to reduce storage costs by automatically moving data onto the appropriate storage media, based on how available the data needs to be, according to Cotteril.

For example, the most current and active image data is housed on highly available primary storage, while older data files, viewed less frequently, are stored on lower-cost storage devices.

By reducing the primary store data load, PACStore also streamlines backup and replication, Cotteril said. As older image data is moved to a PACStore archive, there is less need for frequent backups, since it is also copied to multiple media.

While PACS vendors typically provide archival options within their systems, Cotteril said they can be less efficient than BridgeHead’s, since those tools silo data into one area, making searching more burdensome.

The company’s archiving approach for health care can easily transfer into other industries, Cotteril added.

“This approach could be used in [call center] voice call data file systems, and [industries] with specific picture types that need to be stored and searched for retrieval,” he said.

“The sheer bulk of data has always been a classic issue with certain environments and it’s getting far more severe now,” Cotteril said. “The solution isn’t about dealing with a symptom but … curing the disease, and our archive approach does that.”

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com

Judy Mottl
Judy Mottl
Judy Mottl is an experienced technology journalist who has served as a senior editor, reporter, writer, and blogger for InformationWeek, Investors Business Daily, CNET, and Information Security Magazine, as well as other media outlets.

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