Today, medical imaging accounts for nearly 70% of all clinical data stored at a healthcare facility and adds terabytes of new data on a daily basis. Clinicians, specialists, radiology professionals and researchers rely on immediate, secure access to X-rays, CT scans, EKGs, MRIs and many other types of medical imaging to rapidly diagnose and effectively treat patients. Historically, the picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) provided a central repository exclusively for this information, but its inherent limitations are accelerating the adoption of Enterprise Imaging Strategies.
NetApp’s Tony Turner, Strategic Partner Manager for Healthcare, explained “Most PACS users are in their third generation of that technology. The hospital and referring physicians all want to see the entire patient record of the patient, not just the traditional Radiology and Cardiology images. This includes other care areas like dermatology, endoscopy, surgery, and other care areas that are creating imaging object about that patient. Because access to imaging has grown, it has made healthcare organizations want more out of their imaging strategy.”
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An enterprise imaging strategy provides a more comprehensive platform with the ability to safely, securely take these images and make them accessible in a patient’s electronic health record (EHR) for collaboration across departments or outside a specific healthcare organization to create better patient outcomes. This includes images from all of the care areas to allow the viewing of the complete patient record. “When you are looking at an enterprise imaging strategy, you’re trying to re-enable interoperability between systems,” Turner explained, “and you’re also trying to be more efficient with your environment to keep cost down and avoid future data migrations.”
Kim Garriott, Principal Consultant of Healthcare Solutions for Logicalis, agrees. She noted, “In the United States, most healthcare organizations began implementing radiology PACs in the 2000s, and there has been a huge expansion of capabilities throughout the 2000s. In some cases, that included, the adoption of vendor neutral archives (VNA) primarily for the storage of radiology images only. The evolution comes from the ubiquity of imaging in healthcare.”
“Over the past five years, there has been an influx of digital imaging capabilities available to a wide variety of clinicians across the healthcare enterprise. Mobile devices with high-res cameras have literally put imaging devices in our pockets,” Garriott said. “Whether it is from the point that a patient presents through the ER, or it is clinicians trying to collaborate with their colleagues in other service areas, we are seeing an explosion in digital imaging in healthcare.”
That explosion in digital imaging is pushing healthcare organizations toward a comprehensive imaging strategy, with stakeholders outside the radiology department. Turner said, “Now you have your IT director and CFO looking at the bottom dollar to see what you can do with less money and higher ROI, which is another driver for an enterprise imaging strategy.”
“One step toward that efficiency is creating a central storage environment where medical images can be managed together versus the traditional multi-silo’ed approach that most facilities maintain now,” Turner continued. “From the NetApp perspective, the first thing that we’re going to do is help an organization build a foundation that will provide a secure, dependable environment that doesn’t require downtime to maintain or grow the storage environment. Along with that, NetApp can help organizations avoid future costly data migrations and accelerate cloud or AI adoption.”
“In a clinical environment, downtime is dangerous to costly and impacts patient care. We make sure that you can maintain your system and add and remove storage, without the end user ever seeing the system go down. Equally important, we ensure accessibility of that imaging data, so healthcare organizations can get to the data when and where they need it.”
Creating an enterprise imaging strategy that provides the ability to move resources to other environments to meet clinician or researcher needs, and the ability to control where data lives, gives an organization the opportunity to leverage their existing technology assets, how they consume storage and what budgets are used.
“We assist clients in developing a comprehensive enterprise imaging strategy to help ensure that clinicians have the data they need at their fingertips and in the most relevant way,” Garriott said. “We make sure that any investments being made are being made in a very forward-looking fashion that will enable the organization to scale in the most appropriate way for the environment, which includes looking at storage consumption and how storage is being leveraged with the disparate image management systems.”
Medical imaging will continue to expand, enabling faster, more effective treatment and improved patient outcomes. Understanding how to design a cost-effective medical imaging management environment that enables seamless collaboration is essential and will ensure that data is accessible when and where it’s needed.
Talk to a NetApp specialist about Enterprise Imaging Strategy and how a centralized storage environment can simplify medical image management.