Guelph General plans for long-term storage needs

An Ontario health-care facility has upgraded its storage infrastructure as a precursor to electronic patient records.

Guelph General Hospital (GGH) on Tuesday said it had deployed an EMC Clariion CX700-based SAN to maintains its short-term cache, including a full year of clinical data and images generated by Meditech applications and picture archiving and communications system (PACS). Data will be moved after one year to an EMC Centera system for its long-term archives.

The hospital has had a PACS in place for about years, but recently went through a change in architecture when it moved from a Siemens product to GE’s Centricity PACS, said GGH IT manager Jason Winter. The volume of data entering the old PACS, however, had created concerns around storage, he said, particularly since GGH plans to have a completely electronic patient record within three years.

“We were at capacity,” he said. “With the hospital’s move towards things like digital mammography, we needed something that had more flexibility.”

The combination of Clariion and Centera means hospital IT staff won’t have to worry about CD or tape storage, Winter said, along with the potential for better disaster recovery and the ability to grow in a more dynamic fashion.

“I don’t want to implement something that down the road I need to spend time managing and maintaining,” he said, adding that the EMC products keep storage problems “out of sight, out of mind.”

EMC Canada client solutions manager Frank Kolb said few hospitals have been as proactive in terms of establishing a long-term storage strategy.

“Not everybody has the means or ability to put that kind of infrastructure in place,” he admitted. “For those that take a monolithic approach, they eventually will go to an architecture that Guelph did. It doesn’t make sense not to use this technology from a cost perspective.”

The Clariion/Centerra combination will allow GGH to do a better job of forecasting its storage needs for things such as diagnostic imaging, Winter said, but there will always be unknowns around the other requirements within the health-care system.

“That’s dependent on the number of patients,” he said. “We can essentially do component capacity planning.”

Forecasting remains difficult in part because technology changes have a big impact on requirements, Kolb added. The majority of hospitals now have a 16-slice CT MRI scanner, for example, but others have 32-slice machines. This quadruples the storage needs, according to Kolb. “It’s very hard to predict when those will hit the hospitals, he said, adding that EMC is developing consulting services that are examining growth patterns.

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