With continued procedural growth and study volume, the aging of digital imaging exams and ever-increasing demand for complex 3D image sets in MR and CT, the proliferation of digital images has created a challenge shared by today’s radiology and IT directors, as well as CIOs addressing image management from an enterprise level. A recent Frost and Sullivan PACS report pegged the national volume of archived radiology images at 13 Petabytes (PB) or 13,046 Terabytes (TB) with growth in the double digits.
From not being able to predict hardware and software storage costs, to the increased strain of securing physical space, some data centers are in great need of upgrading and simplification. Healthcare facilities continually need to find ways to increase archive capacity with slim capital budgets, usually resulting in a drain of human and economic capital that could otherwise be invested in higher return activities. And as more departments such as cardiology and pathology add to the imaging profile, facilities can expect that the need for a better archive solution will not go away any time soon.
Managing images offsite
Secured Storage Providers offer a new way to manage archived images and exams in a remote data center. As storage prices have decreased over time, imaging facilities and hospitals can place more of their pertinent case volumes—for example, a patient who will have multiple visits per year—on-line for quick reading access. Long gone are the days of needing to keep a small amount of short-term storage and having to pre-fetch historical exams with studies dates only a few months old.
Remote DICOM hosting services allow IT departments to take advantage of long-term storage technologies today. Using either dedicated network circuits or existing VPN internet technology, hospitals and imaging centers can establish secure links to transmit patient images on a pay-per-exam model, thereby converting a once costly capital investment into a monthly payment from their operating budgets. This means that sites no longer have to plan for archive obsolescence, migrate old data, battle for real estate, or engage in any other type of management activity involved in the maintenance of the PACS archive solution. And because internet technologies and bandwidths have improved, there is no minimum procedure volume threshold that a site needs to meet for this to be a financially viable decision.
Dollars and sense
|Gain first-hand knowledge from three leading healthcare organizations who use GE’s Centricity ASP (Application Service Provider) to store and manage radiology images offsite. Watch this practical one-hour video webcast with Q &A presented by clinical and IT thought-leaders in the case studies that follow. They share their experience on transitioning to and benefitting from ASP—and why ASP is the new path to secure, scalable, and cost-effective DICOM data archive and disaster recovery.
Healthcare facilities ultimately have to choose between the creation of their own PACS DICOM archive or remotely hosting their data, and it is important for them to have a clear understanding of how the timing of cash flows impact their decision. Because a storage service provider can offer a predictable monthly payment based upon an exam volume commitment, institutions can free up cash that would normally be tied up in a capital purchase. When discounting the future cash flow of a smooth, operational payment versus a saw-tooth capital expenditure back to today’s dollar, the majority of institutions come out financially ahead by choosing the outsourced DICOM service.
Not only do IT departments receive the latest storage technologies today with a storage service provider, but they also receive inherent security and disaster recovery benefits by choosing to remotely host their archive data. HIPAA compliance policies are easily met, with most vendors providing at least two copies of patient images as part of the solution. And because data centers are typically built with the intention of serving many industries, physical and network security levels derived from financial institutions are usually present. This is where comparison to an onsite archive truly becomes an academic exercise of comparing apples to oranges. Most sites will not be able to reproduce the size, scale, or inherent advantages that a remote facility can, from redundant networking components, highly available applications, instantaneous