Information Infrastructure

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Serves up Scalable, User-Friendly Archive that Boosts Clinical Productivity

More than 1,700 healthcare organizations have installed the EMC Centera content-addressed storage infrastructure from EMC Corporation with good reason. Healthcare organizations are moving from silos of records to consolidated views of all patient information for accelerated service delivery, faster and more accurate billing, and lower operating costs. EMC Centera is a proven archiving platform with online access and assured authenticity, self-management, protection from technology obsolescence, and much more. With so much available in one system from one vendor, healthcare organizations are assured of data integrity, regulatory compliance, the best overall cost of ownership, and business continuity.

With 21,000 employees and 2,200 physicians, Fraser Health Authority in British Columbia, Canada, is one of the country’s largest and fastest growing health authorities. Fraser provides care for 1.5 million people in its 12 acute-care hospitals as well as home health, mental health, and public health services. The authority operates with an annual budget of $1.9 billion.

An early adopter

The implementation of a new PACS five years ago led to the need for a more sophisticated, leading edge storage solution. Fraser elected to invest in EMC Centera content-addressed storage (CAS), becoming an early adopter of the EMC Centera archiving platform and replacing its tape library system. By implementing PACS, “we were going to a new application that would generate significant data to be archived that we couldn’t manage in a tape environment,” says James Pink, manager of technical support and operations.

EMC has been Fraser’s strategic partner for storage for many years. Five years ago EMC was the only vendor that had a content-addressed storage system. Pink says they are currently storing about 240 terabytes (TB) of data in two EMC Centera units. Their volume is growing at about 10 terabytes a year. But, “that’s only with our initial PACS implementation,” Pink says. “We’re looking at expanding our whole archiving infrastructure to other applications. It’s going to grow a lot more.”

Right now, the organization’s PACS implementation includes a range of basic imaging modalities, including CT scanners, but the volume is expanding at a phenomenal rate, he adds.

One EMC Centera is primary; the other is secondary, and both are housed in different data centers. “We’ve done testing to be able to flip over the applications from one to the other,” says Pink. He recently went through a refresh of the EMC Centera systems—moving the data from one to the other—which went fine, he reports. “I have a good comfort level that the data will be there when we ask for the data. We go through the validation process at least once a year to make sure that the data the application thinks are there exists and are retrievable.”

Self-healing and scalable

One of the benefits of EMC Centera is its self-healing capabilities. If archiving issues occur, EMC Centera detects and resolves them, which is a huge benefit for us, Pink says. He also appreciates the system’s ability to enforce regulatory requirements for retention policies which ensures that data are not accidentally deleted and being single instance storage dramatically reduces the amount of storage required to retain images. “If I wrote the same file to the EMC Centera, it only keeps one copy of it, but I have two pointers to it,” explains Pink.

At Fraser, cardiology patient information is retained on short-term storage for 90 days, and PACS information for six months. With EMC Centera, Pink has been able to eliminate many costs associated with information backup. Less short-term storage translates to reduced backup windows and less tape media to purchase. Plus, online archiving makes all PACS and cardiology information immediately accessible.

EMC Centera is easy to scale and manage. Pink can simply add more storage capacity as needed. “At some point, we will look at carving off from multiple units to one or two large units. We are working with EMC on where and when it makes sense to do that.”

Data protection

Data storage at Bloomington Hospital in Bloomington, Ind., is growing at 8.2 TB a year, which requires almost annual expansions, says Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Network Engineer Brian Bourkland.

After deploying a new PACS, the hospital decided to implement EMC Centera as its archival storage solution. One of the best