Storage Applications Boom
The "a" in PACS made as big of a splash at RSNA 2003 as the acronym did. Vendors lined the floor with sophisticated archive products and software that can be scaled to meet the needs of any size facility. As more and more PACS are describing themselves independent of hardware, competition is heating in the marketplace to develop techniques and products that will provide customers with the best storage possible.

 Rorke Data of Eden Prairie, Minn. was on board at RSNA showcasing a variety of storage products, including its new Galaxy-i RAID series with Serial ATA technology.

 Arranged in 8-Bay, 12-Bay and 16-Bay configurations, Rorke's Galaxy-i offers customers 2-gigabit fibre channel or SCSI-160 controller technology with high-capacity SATA drive technology.

 As Plasmon's partner for the healthcare industry, Rorke showcased the Englewood, Colo.-based company's new UDO (ultra density optical) technology that is designed for long-term archival storage of patient data and images. Plasmon's UDO drives have a 30-gigabyte storage capacity and support both rewriteable and true Write Once Media formats.

 Rorke also released it's new storage services switching platform from Maranti of San Jose, Calif., so that companies can now leverage low-cost Serial ATA (SATA) RAID technology in their current storage environments. The new switch features per-port processing that guarantees QoS per LUN.
IBM showcased its new integrated storage management package designed to help hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities protect, manage and quickly access growing volumes of medical images. The offering consists of IBM disks, tape storage, server systems and storage management software that have been pre-configured, pre-tested and customized for PACS applications.

 Technologies include IBM's TotalStorage FAStT midrange storage servers, which provide up to 32.8 terabytes of online storage capacity and utilize the new IBM TotalStorage EXP1000 Storage Expansion Unit. In addition, IBM's TotalStorage Linear Tape-Open (LTO) provides a tape library for nearline archival storage or offline backup storage that it scalable up to 500 terabytes of capacity. The archive system is powered by the IBM eServer pSeries 630 system running Unix.
RadVault highlighted enhancements and new additions to its portfolio of products geared toward managing the electronic delivery and storage of digital images. Founded in 2001, the Hayward, Calif.-based company provides users a means to store and access digital images in an off site, secure data repository.

 New tools available for use in conjunction with the RadVault-stored images include a Clinical Web Viewer; a web-enabled DICOM workstation that turns any standard PC with Internet access into a DICOM workstation and SmartSchedule; a web-enabled appointment scheduling and management system. A new version of RadVault's SmartTrac system was also unveiled, that functions as a data-tracking service that monitors the transmission and viewing of each image.
EMC of Hopkinton, Mass. showcased its flagship enterprise wide management systems, Centera and Clariion, as part of its Automated Networked Storage products for PACS (picture archiving and communications systems). Centera is a magnetic disk-based WORM storage device that provides long-term retention and instant retrieval of regulated digital assets. Clariion's storage area network (SAN) stores digital images for up to five days before archiving images on Centera's content addressed storage (CAS).
Sony Electronics was excited to disclose its new storage product at RSNA this year - Professional Disc - that will enhance the industry's archiving methods. The storage device is intended for data optical storage drives, automated devices and media to OEMs and system integrators.

 Based on blue laser technology, the Professional Disc stores up to 23 gigabytes (GB) of native capacity per rewritable or write once, ready many(WORM) disc, while the drive sustains a maximum transfer rate of 11 megabytes (MB) per second.

 "Traditionally when people needed a backup or archive, they did it on a tape disk. But this new technology that we are showcasing is suitable for any image intensive acquisition, including CT, MRI and digital mammography. In the future, the company anticipates a second-generation drive and media to the market by 2005 that will feature up to 50 GB of capacity with a transfer rate of 22MB/sec, eventually followed by a third generation of drive and media featuring 100 GB of capacity with a transfer rate of 43 MB/sec.
TeraMedica, a medical informatics company in Milwaukee, Wis., was at RSNA to showcase its Intelligent Image Manager (TI_m) software version 2.0 recently purchased for employment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

 "TeraMedica provides software that works on any Unix server platform, and operates on any storage hardware that the facility uses," TI_m is designed to capture data from imaging devices or PACS, store the digital images, and make them available for delivery to the point of patient care across the healthcare enterprise. The data is "migrated" from the conventional methods of storage today and moved to an environment that handles it in a cost effective manner.

 "Medical imaging is fast approaching a petabyte scale data management problem with a terabyte architecture purchased at gigabyte prices," said Paul Schmelzer, executive vice president and COO.

 "The software allows images to be taken from the devices and stored on-line and off-line dependent on their retrieval characteristics. In relation to PACS, we take the image data from the PACS, off load it and get it into the mass scale storage units that vendors produce. From that central repository, the data can be served electronically to on call physicians or it can be tied into a comprehensive medical record (EMR). In a conventional world, all that's tied up in the PACS and it becomes a departmental problem," said Schmelzer.

 In addition to its full line of medical-grade CD and DVD archive media, TDK Medical of Garden City, N.Y., also featured two turnkey hardware and software storage devices designed for recording multimodality radiologic images onto CD-R. The CDRS-1100AUTO TP Medical CD Recording Station and CDRS-1100AD Medical Recording Station took center stage at the company's exhibit.

 Both systems offer connectivity to a DICOM-compliant network, accept a range of DICOM-compliant Information Object Definitions (IODs) and offer easy management and navigation of single or multiple patient studies.

 While both systems are similar in operation and functionality, the CDRS-1100AUTO TP in addition features a Rimage Amigo II automated CD production station which mass-produces on-demand CD-R discs and automatically prints patient and institution information on the label.

 In the works, TDK Medical said, is a Satellite Disc Producer that will allow a compact CD Disc Producer to be installed in a remote location and interface with the company's Medical CD Recording Stations.
StorageTek of Louisville, Colo., exhibited the Information Lifecycle Management Healthcare system, a plug and play storage offering that can easily scale as the hospital requires with the company's D-series, B-series and Tape offerings. Also showcased was a D280 which is a high-performance open system disk used for fast throughput of transaction based data.