IBM, Bycast team on grid-powered storage

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IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences announced a new joint offering with Bycast, Inc. The new solution is designed to help deliver improved patient care through a grid-powered storage system that enables PACS applications and other systems to more readily access fixed content data including medical files, documents and images. IBM's Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) combines IBM's TotalStorage and eServer hardware with Bycast's StorageGRID software to deliver a flexible and scalable virtualized storage solution for medium to large healthcare organizations and hospital networks.
   
The solutions allow hospitals to access distributed medical images using open and scalable technologies, while taking advantage of robust data integrity features. GMAS extracts PACS from underlying storage infrastructure using grid storage technologies, allowing hospitals to share storage across distributed facilities, helping optimize utilization, simplify administration and decreasing costs. The storage system enhances speed and reliability of image delivery to where they are needed throughout an organization, which can help lead to improved diagnosis and treatment and serve as a foundation for information-based medicine.
   
Mike Svinte, vice president of information based medicine for IBM, points out, "It's important for healthcare providers to leverage the storage systems they have." The storage model is evolving from a departmental to a comprehensive, enterprise approach. "By combining StorageGRID's powerful capabilities with IBM's products and services, we can help hospitals achieve a more flexible and cost-effective enterprise-wide storage system. IBM has the experience, skills and resources to assist customers of all sizes, across all geographies, to deliver solutions on a local, national and global basis," confirms Moe Kermani, CEO of Bycast.
   
IBM touted multiple benefits associated with GMAS, including:

  • Intelligent, cost-effective storage: Information Lifecycle Management capabilities enable intelligent placement of high value studies online and automatically store low value studies nearline or offline. Although GMAS is not a PACS application, it can gain intelligence to make storage policy decisions based on DICOM headers like placing a negative CT in nearline storage.

  • Reduced hardware obsolescence with easier upgrades, enabling transparent implementation of new hardware and automatic data migration.
  • Built-in business continuity
  • Greater openness, scalability and reliability

In addition to providing hardware and software to facilitate enhanced storage via GMAS, IBM does provide consulting services including requirements analysis that enable customers to deploy, integrate and test solutions, says Patrick Boyle, segment executive, medical imaging, global life science.
   
The companies expect to announce the first GMAS installation this summer and anticipate several announcements through the fall. Over the next few months, IBM plans to expand digital imaging consulting services to help customers deploy multi-site IT systems. The company's recent acquisition of HealthLink will facilitate this move by providing deeper radiology expertise and capabilities, says Boyle.
   
Svinte also outlined IBM's vision of information-based medicine. "IT is the enabler that will help healthcare pull together and better used data to better understand disease at the molecular level, enable development of targeted treatment solutions and deliver individualized diagnosis and treatment."