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● Data Storage/Data Management

Transitioning to a vendor-neutral

By Karen Branz

present a barrier to physician access to imaging studies and thus stymie collaboration and consultation. T ey also create ineffi cient duplication of eff ort by IT staff and, due to the long process involved in changing a PACS, slow adoption of new imaging technology. To overcome these challenges, Utah’s Intermountain Health- care made the decision to create a vendor-neutral archive.


The technical solution According to Marc Probst, Intermountain’s CIO and

vice president of information systems, the healthcare system partnered with Dell and Siemens Healthcare to implement an enterprise-wide archive designed to manage data from all PACS, facilitate access to imaging data and improve clinical care. T e solution has three components: 1. Clinical data-management layer that has the capability of aggregating data for each patient from all PACS, HIS and specialized imaging applications. For the initial Intermountain solution, the data-management layer aggre- gates data from radiology and cardiology imaging systems.

2. Clinical archival layer that includes on-site and cloud deployment options that can be used independently or as a hybrid. Intermountain chose a hybrid deployment with both on-site and cloud-managed storage.

3. Clinical collaboration portal for easy access, secure sharing and integration of clinical data across a variety of platforms. It allows diagnosing physicians to use the PACS reader of their choice when viewing images and allows integration with the EMR for easy access by at- tending physicians. Intermountain’s implementation of this layer is still in progress.

16 June 2013

n ongoing challenge for most health enterprise IT departments is the existence of multiple picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) within the organization. T ese proprietary silos

The initial installation, which completed final testing

in April, aggregates data from radiology and cardiology and stores five years of data onsite in the active archive, using two Dell PowerEdge R720XD servers and two Dell EqualLogic storage devices, the FS7620 and the PS6510, along with Dell Force10 4810 switches. Intermountain will also have cloud storage at Siemens and Dell data centers for a highly redundant system that facilitates fast disaster recovery. Intermountain will migrate nearly half a petabyte of data

from existing PACS storage to a mix of on-site storage and cloud storage. Going forward, all new images, approximately 1.6 million radiology fi les and 350,000 cardiology fi les an- nually, will be stored locally for fi ve years and also uploaded to cloud storage.

Strategic decision Intermountain Healthcare has 22 hospitals and 180 clinics, in addition to its own insurance company. T e need to share patient data across platforms was growing, which led the Intermountain team to search for a common storage platform that would allow wider, easier access for system physicians and integration with other data across the enterprise. “We’ve had PACS in our facilities for the past 15 years, and the number and variety of systems was growing,” says Inter- mountain CIO Marc Probst. “Radiology, cardiology, all the ‘-ologies’ have a digital platform, and it seemed silly to have separate archives for each system.” T e Intermountain team decided to go with an outside

vendor for their storage solution. “We’ve got 1,100 IT staff , and we’ve done a lot of our own in-house solutions,” Probst says. “But medical image storage is growing rapidly and requires dedicated staff to maintain it. It made sense to go with a vendor who has expertise in the area, rather than to create an in-house solution.”


image archive Utah’s Intermountain Healthcare creates an enterprise-wide archive designed to manage data from all PACS.

Karen Branz is a freelance journalist specializing in healthcare and technology issues. For more on Dell: www.

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