Storage & Archiving: Safe Keeping for Now and Later

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Behind every successful PACS is a carefully orchestrated storage strategy - and hardware and software storage vendors made this quite apparent at this year's annual Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) show. As vendors served up digital imaging storage components that meet a variety of imaging, preservation and budget requirements, smarter consumers roamed the RSNA floor in search of short- and long-term archiving solutions, as well as disaster recovery/business continuity technologies, that make affordable PACS a successful reality.

Storage vendors delivered, realizing that while many larger institutions may be gearing up for their second and third generation PACS, smaller healthcare providers are just beginning to develop a digital imaging plan. While the latter may require a mid-range storage system that is affordable, easy to install and manage, the larger healthcare provider may be looking to leverage existing IT infrastructures with sophisticated software and also, advance to a healthcare enterprise archive. All was possible with the hardware and software components storage vendors touted at RSNA this year.

(Note: companies appear in alphabetical order.)

Bycast highlighted at RSNA the newest features of its StorageGrid software which helps healthcare providers take a more scalable, unified approach to archiving.

"Healthcare providers are trying to deal with a tidal wave of fixed-content digital data such as medical images," said Deanne Farrar, senior vice president of Industry Solutions for Bycast. "Data are being produced by multiple disciplines, including radiology and cardiology, and used by multiple applications such as PACS. In addition to dealing with this tidal wave of data, healthcare providers must also deliver a disaster recovery plan to ensure data availability and meet the data integrity requirements of HIPAA."

Bycast StorageGrid delivers a high-performance, fixed-content storage system based on grid computing architecture. It enables hospitals and healthcare networks to securely store and transmit diagnostic images and documents within the enterprise and across multi-site facilities.

Bycast is now shipping a new version - StorageGrid 5.0 - that introduces the FileSystem Gateway which exposes the StorageGrid as a virtual CIFS or NFS file system. This allows any type of fixed content, such as lab results, doctors notes, audio, video and diagnostic images, to be stored on the StorageGrid with the same scalability, reliability and speed that has always been available for native DICOM files. Furthermore, the FileSystem Gateway is content-aware and will intelligently process DICOM and other standard file formats. Therefore, all PACS can seamlessly store and retrieve images on the StorageGrid without the use of proprietary APIs.

Communication Synergy Technologies Inc. (ComSynTech) demonstrated the integration of its proprietary preservation and archiving technology into its InFORM radiology information system (RIS) at RSNA this year. 

The archiving software, called the CDV1000 Document Vault, enables healthcare providers to preserve and archive vital documents. A major benefit for customers is that the system does not rely on a document's originating hardware or software to restore the document to a human-readable format, the company said.

According to Seth Borg, MD, CEO, the CDV1000 Document Vault is an affordable document preservation and archive management system that facilitates compliance with many healthcare regulations, and at the same time, is integrated with a practice information system.  

ComSynTech also highlighted InFORM RIS's recent integration with MedPay USA's billing verification software. The added functionality allows the InFORM' RIS to deliver a host of pre-billing functions, including eligibility verification, Medicare compliance, electronic claims processing, claims auditing, claims status, remittance posting, secondary billing, contract management, denial management and contract management, according to Borg.

EMC at RSNA showcased its range of information storage and enterprise content management systems that help healthcare organizations better meet their PACS archiving demands. The company put a particular focus on its new generation of mid-range storage that is geared toward first-time PACS user and touted as easy to install and manage.

"We are using the show to support one of our key partners, GE, in the introduction of a new product which brings