High data growth is one of the biggest challenges for IT departments in healthcare. The average healthcare provider IT budget increased 3.9% from 2013 to 2014 while the global IT budget increased only 0.2%. The top two budget drivers for healthcare providers are healthcare analytics and infrastructure. When we look further into infrastructure from a storage viewpoint in particular, there are primarily three healthcare trends driving data growth:
Digitization of medical information leading to an information lifecycle management strategy - Healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs) are increasingly using Electronic health records (EHR) in the continued progress of healthcare that strengthens the relationship between patients and clinicians. This has led to prodigious growth in storage requirements due to standards like Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) for medical imaging and picture archiving and communications systems (PACS).
Innovation in patient care – This has been driven by medical research and collaboration to uncover new diagnostic capabilities such as genome mapping and nanomedicine. Also, the success of media tablet and smartphone devices within HDOs has resulted in an increase in new ways of health information and care delivery services.
Regulations and compliance - The third factor is related to regulations such as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Under HITECH, “meaningful use” objectives have been released that providers must meet to improve clinical outcomes and also qualify for incentive payments.
When we look at most providers, the challenges in terms of their storage needs mainly revolve around the above factors coupled with seasonal or temporal variation in storage demand. Much of this data growth tends to be a large amount of infrequently accessed data due to archival requirements and long data retention periods. With rapidly growing storage demands and swings in consumption; rather than size the entire infrastructure to support the peak demands, providers are looking for as-a-service pay-as-you-go model, leveraging cloud storage to help scale without massive capex investments. The management of data throughout the lifecycle from creation to archive, with all of the backup and periodic data migrations that happen across healthcare systems through standards like Web Access to DICOM Persistent Objects (WADO) and Health Level Seven (HL7) can drive up storage costs pretty quickly. Add to it regulatory compliance through HIPAA mandating a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan can lead to significant capital expenditure to recover services at a DR site.
The StorSimple hybrid cloud storage solution from Microsoft addresses several of these challenges and provides primary storage, backup, archive, and disaster recovery. Combined with Microsoft Azure, this solution optimizes total storage costs and data protection across the entire data lifecycle. The solution delivers the benefits of cloud economics and a simplified storage architecture by automatically tiering large amounts of data to the Microsoft Azure cloud (Figure 1). The solution provides the following advantages when compared to traditional storage architectures:
Reduce Total cost of ownership (TCO) by lowering the investment in capital expenses
Maximize data protection by automating backup of primary data
Improve disaster recovery function by downloading only active data sets from the cloud thereby leading to lower recovery time objectives (RTO)
Please follow this link to a case study on GF Health Products, a medical equipment manufacturer, on the merits of the StorSimple solution for their growing storage infrastructure demands. For more information on the Microsoft StorSimple solution as well as information on other customer stories, please visit www.microsoft.com/storsimple.
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