5 Effective Data Storage Options for Hospitals
The healthcare industry is flooded with data from every end-case sheets from out-patient departments, surgery reports from intensive care units, scan results from radiology and testing laboratories etc. to name a few. To effect optimal management of data, several hospital data storage options are being explored with the help of healthcare information technology .
The need of the hour is for healthcare database management systems with easy access, quick latency, high security and maximum storage capacity. This is why hospitals are seeking the help of an expert healthcare consulting company to satisfy these needs with options like these.
67% of the large hospitals with more than 500 beds are using the SAN option for their data storage. A SAN is a high-speed data storage network which interconnects different types of storage devices with associated data servers using a dedicated fibre channel pipeline. Thus images and data can go directly from storage to workstations on the pipeline separately, thereby freeing up the main server. This frees up the bandwidth and speeds up the transmission of patient-related data.
As the need to share more of diagnostic data has grown, the use of SAN to enable all the PACS-(Picture Archiving and Communication systems) has become absolutely essential.
Statistics reveal that 62% of the hospitals also use external storage media like tapes and disks as a data storage option as they do not need any installation. Hospitals use external hard disks or SSDs to store patient records, electronic medical records (EMR) and their backups, radiological images, insurance claims, office documents etc.
Although they are easy to use, all external storage devices used in healthcare must be data encrypted to protect them from malware and hacking.
The humungous data churned out by the hospital requires both high performance with efficient data exchange and tight security. To address this need, 45% of the hospitals are using a Network-attached Storage system (NAS).
NAS is a dedicated file storage system that allows multiple users and heterogeneous devices to access and retrieve data from the central storage capacity. Since the NAS resides on the LAN as an independent network node with an IP address, users on the LAN access it using the Ethernet. As NAS devices do not have keyboard or display, they are configured and managed using a browser-utility.
NAS is the preferred option for hospital networks which have large amounts of corporate data spanning several branch locations. The advantage here is that since NAS integrates many servers, it is easy to retrieve data and restore lost data quickly across the network.
As of now, 26% of the hospitals are using outsourced storage solutions through vendors. This is because storage of data accounts for 50% of the IT expenses incurred at a hospital and this can be drastically reduced to half by outsourcing data storage.
Everything from electronic medical records, e-prescriptions, lab and pharmacy information etc are all stored using outsourced vendor solutions. The advantage of using outsourced storage solution is a reduction of overheads and quicker disaster recovery. But the disadvantage is the element of risk in data security which must be clearly underlined while drawing up the service contract.
Currently, 24% of the hospitals have switched to the Cloud for their storage needs. The Cloud environ is ideal for the healthcare information management as it offers both storage and security with latency and privacy, as per the need of the hospital. With the evolution of public, private and hybrid Cloud models, hospitals can choose to retain some vital data on-premise and other seldom-accessed on the Cloud.
With such a plethora of options, it is best for hospitals to consult a healthcare consulting company in deciding the right kind of data storage.