Inside the Data Center of the Future

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The key to progressively managing data across the enterprise

 As the 21st century advances, healthcare stands to gain as new developments promise to improve diagnosis and treatment. At the same time, healthcare remains a fragmented process. Critical information is available to physicians but it is not linked; reviewing images and data from multiple sources is complex and time-consuming, detracting from optimal patient care. For example, an accurate differential diagnosis may hinge on viewing a patient x-ray and pathology reports. But a simple mechanism to enable the physician to review both is a tall order for many state-of-the-art healthcare enterprises.

There are other pain points as well. Redundant data are spread across and beyond the enterprise, which can decrease efficiency and lead to unnecessary duplication of efforts; data management processes can be mercurial and department — rather than enterprise-driven; hardware and software obsolescence complicates the picture and make it difficult to manage legacy data. At the same time, data must remain readable for up to 30 years, and the amount of data is exploding on a near daily basis with 64-slice CT and digital mammography studies generating gigabyte level datasets. More frequent use of PET/CT is contributing, too.

The answer is deceptively simple. As long as 10 years ago, the Institute of Medicine identified the need for a computerized, multi-media patient record to store images and data—an electronic medical record (EMR). The EMR will enable healthcare to move toward a more patient centric approach. Currently, most healthcare enterprises can not deploy a fully patient-centric approach because disparate information systems prevent the physician from readily accessing all of the necessary clinical information. Lab results and x-ray images do not reside on the same system nor can the physician view both at the point of care.

Achieving an EMR and implementing patient-centric care, however, requires some adjustment on the part of health information systems. The systems must adopt a patient-centric view not only at the individual level, but also at the aggregate level across all systems. Thus to be truly viable, the EMR requires a foundation that unites the disparate systems and facilitates a common language and single patient view.

A next-generation data center such as the Agfa HealthCare Clinical Data Center (CDC) that is soon to roll out can provide the architecture needed to consolidate and manage the silos of healthcare data. CDC goes beyond existing storage platforms like storage area networks (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS).

While current-generation storage solutions such as SAN and NAS do address the hefty storage demands of healthcare enterprises, they do not use standards to link data. Consequently, data are not linked for the end-user and physician. With CDC, Agfa HealthCare takes the final step and uses standards to link data and transform storage into a clinically relevant and useful solution. CDC brings intelligence — fully managing the data for the facility. CDC knows what the data are for, who they belong to and what to do with them — all based on software standards like DICOM and HL7.

Agfa HealthCare is uniquely positioned to address the fragmentation challenges of 21st century healthcare. Over the last several years, the company has bolstered its solid expertise in imaging and complemented it with an IT portfolio. Its acquisition of industry leaders such as Heartlab in cardiology image and information management, Mitra in image and information management and GWI in hospital clinical and administrative IT extend and balance its offerings. Plus, its relationship with storage leader EMC Corporation provides the final ingredient needed to optimize storage as the building block for the EMR.

Relevant clinical information with a single login

Agfa HealthCare CDC meets multiple critical purposes. The clinical content hierarchical storage management system not only serves as an archive, it also provides a viewer and query-capable warehouse. CDC streamlines management of the array of data in any modern healthcare enterprise from multimedia datasets like waveforms to documents, medical images and structured reports.

How does it work? CDC connects to all clinical and administrative systems and sources and merges all structured and unstructured data into a single real-time database. Its semantic mapping function aggregates similar data from all of the