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Why Healthcare IT Should Abandon Data Storage Islands and Take the Plunge into Data Lakes

One of the most significant technology-related challenges in the modern era is managing data growth. As healthcare organizations leverage new data-generating technology, and as medical record retention requirements evolve, the exponential rise in data (already growing at 48 percent each year according to the Dell EMC Digital Universe Study) could span decades.

Let’s start by first examining the factors contributing to the healthcare data deluge:

  • Longer legal retention times for medical records – in some cases up to the lifetime of the patient.
  • Digitization of healthcare and new digitized diagnostics workflows such as digital pathology, clinical next-generation sequencing, digital breast tomosynthesis, surgical documentation and sleep study videos.
  • With more digital images to store and manage, there is also an increased need for bigger picture archive and communication system (PACS) or vendor-neutral archive (VNA) deployments.
  • Finally, more people are having these digitized medical tests, (especially given the large aging population) resulting in a higher number of yearly studies with increased data sizes.

Healthcare organizations also face frequent and complex storage migrations, rising operational costs, storage inefficiencies, limited scalability, increasing management complexity and storage tiering issues caused by storage silo sprawl.

Another challenge is the growing demand to understand and utilize unstructured clinical data. To mine this data, a storage infrastructure is necessary that supports the in-place analytics required for better patient insights and the evolution of healthcare that enables precision medicine.

Isolated Islands Aren’t Always Idyllic When It Comes to Data

The way that healthcare IT has approached data storage infrastructure historically hasn’t been ideal to begin with, and it certainly doesn’t set up healthcare organizations for success in the future.

Traditionally, when adding new digital diagnostic tools, healthcare organizations provided a dedicated storage infrastructure for each application or diagnostic discipline. For example, to deal with the growing storage requirements of digitized X-rays, an organization will create a new storage system solely for the radiology department. As a result, isolated storage siloes, or data islands, must be individually managed, making processes and infrastructure complicated and expensive to operate and scale.

Isolated siloes further undermine IT goals by increasing the cost of data management and compounding the complexity of performing analytics, which may require multiple copies of large amounts of data copied into another dedicated storage infrastructure that can’t be shared with other workflows. Even the process of creating these silos is involved and expensive because tech refreshes require migrating medical data to new storage. Each migration, typically performed every three to five years, is labor-intensive and complicated. Frequent migrations not only strain resources, but take IT staff away from projects aimed at modernizing the organization, improving patient care and increasing revenue.

Further, silos make it difficult for healthcare providers to search data and analyze information, preventing them from gaining the insights they need for better patient care. Healthcare providers are also looking to tap potentially important medical data from Internet-connected medical devices or personal technologies such as wireless activity trackers. If healthcare organizations are to remain successful in a highly regulated and increasingly competitive, consolidated and patient-centered market, they need a simplified, scalable data management strategy.

Simplify and Consolidate Healthcare Data Management with Data Lakes

The key to modern healthcare data management is to employ a strategy that simplifies storage infrastructure and storage management and supports multiple current and future workflows simultaneously. A Dell EMC healthcare data lake, for example, leverages scale-out storage to house data for clinical and non-clinical workloads across departmental boundaries. Such healthcare data lakes reduce the number of storage silos a hospital uses and eliminate the need for data migrations. This type of storage scales on the fly without downtime, addressing IT scalability and performance issues and providing native file and next-generation access methods.

Healthcare data lake storage can also:

  • Eliminate storage inefficiencies and reduce costs by automatically moving data that can be archived to denser, more cost-effective storage tiers.
  • Allow healthcare IT to expand into private, hybrid or public clouds, enabling IT to leverage cloud economies by creating storage pools for object storage.
  • Offer long-term data retention without the security risks and giving up data sovereignty of the public cloud; the same cloud expansion can be utilized for next-generation use cases such as healthcare IoT.
  • Enable precision medicine and better patient insights by fostering advanced analytics across all unstructured data, such as digitized pathology, radiology, cardiology and genomics data.
  • Reduce data management costs and complexities through automation, and scale capacity and performance on demand without downtime.
  • Eliminate storage migration projects.

 

The greatest technical challenge facing today’s healthcare organizations is the ability to effectively leverage and manage data. However, by employing a healthcare data management strategy that replaces siloed storage with a Dell EMC healthcare data lake, healthcare organizations will be better prepared to meet the requirements of today’s and tomorrow’s next-generation infrastructure and usher in advanced analytics and new storage access methods.

 

Get your fill of news, resources and videos on the Dell EMC Emerging Technologies Healthcare Resource Page

 

 

Improving Healthcare Data Management with EMC Isilon – Think holistic, not in separated storage islands

The Data Growth Challenge in Healthcare

According to the EMC Digital Universe with Research & Analysis by IDC Healthcare[1] data growth is one of the fastest across many industries. A 48% annual growth rate will lead to 2,314 Exabytes of data in 2020.

Data Growth

Source: EMC Digital Universe with Research & Analysis by IDC

The reasons for this data growth rate are many and include new healthcare applications and regulatory / compliance challenges and continued introductions of new technology and equipment that incorporate data-intensive next generation diagnostics.

The growing data sets will enable healthcare providers to make quicker information-driven decisions, increase efficiency, support remote diagnostics, and provide better collaboration.

For Electronic Health Record (EHR), additional unstructured data such as voice, video, and text are now being stored. New diagnostic and other healthcare applications are also growing with increasing use of medical images and studies with larger images sizes. Or, the deployment of clinical next generation sequencing will contribute to the 48% annual growth rate in healthcare data.

All these data must comply with country and state regulations including long retention periods. Those regulatory compliance requirements are an additional key data growth driver.

Another challenge of data growth is finding the right data at the right time. Big Data analytics enables healthcare providers to focus in on data most useful for diagnostics, treatment, and discovery.

The Data Management Challenge in Healthcare

Factors that are forcing healthcare organizations to rethink their storage strategies include:

More data must be stored: Storage capacity requirements continue to grow significantly with the shift to data-intensive healthcare. As the number of storage devices increases, so too does the need of IT resources to maintain the infrastructure.

Inefficiency in storage capacity: In most healthcare organizations, storage is typically deployed and managed by diagnostic functions or departments and capacity is not shared between modalities. This may lead to spare capacity for one modality while others need to be upgraded continuously. With a siloed approach to storage, extra capacity cannot be shared, thus increasing CAPEX and OPEX cost.

Changing data retention requirements: Patient records, digital diagnostic images, and clinical study results are now stored for longer periods of time. Some data can move into a ‘cold archive’ while other healthcare data needs to be immediately accessible online

Merger and acquisitions are increasing. According to the latest analysis by Kaufmann Hall & Associates, LLC, the number of hospital transactions announced in 2015 grew 18 percent compared to 2014. Healthcare organizations now own multiple hospitals, clinics, long term care facilities, and physician practices across a large geography. It isn’t practical in all cases to maintain a central data center at all places and it makes sense to have smaller regional data stores that can tier to a centralized “data hub”.

Is there a better solution?

Over the last years, we’ve made a tremendous investment into a scale-out Network Attached Storage solution. EMC Isilon easily scales with a push of a button and with the same pace of the data growth. EMC Isilon can seamlessly scale on demand, enabling healthcare organizations to add Petabyte of storage or expand performance “on the fly”. Every Isilon cluster is a single pool of shared storage eliminating the need to deploy a storage silo for each modality or department. Last year we introduced the concept of a “Data Lake”, enabling healthcare organizations consolidate their data into a central data repository. Through the multi-access methods supporting different healthcare applications, organizations can store, access, share and even analyze the data stored in one location without the need to copy the data from one storage silo or infrastructure into another. If needed, different access zones and data encryption ensures data security and data separation without compromising the “Data Lake” concept.

Very recently EMC announced the “Data Lake 2.0” with the introduction of OneFS 8.0 providing capabilities to expand the “Data Lake” from the “edge” to the “core” (the centralized data repository) to the “cloud”.

IsilonSD Edge is a software-defined storage solution running on commodity hardware in a VMware environment. IsilonSD Edge expands the “Data Lake” into remote locations or departments with smaller data storage requirements. This capability provides great efficiency and cost advantages in particular for larger healthcare organizations owning multiple geographical distributed healthcare facilities.

EMC Isilon CloudPools enables healthcare organizations to tier data off their central (“core”) Isilon cluster to either a private in-house cloud based on EMC Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) or another Isilon cluster or into a public cloud for archiving as older patient related data may need to be stored for the life of the patient. This cost effective extension of the “Data Lake” provides encryption capabilities for security purposes and compression to minimize storage capacity requirements and bandwidth usage.

The extended “Data Lake” is managed through one management interface and regardless where the data is stored the records are immediately accessible.

Better Healthcare Data Management

The combination of EMC Isilon hardware, OneFS 8.0, IsilonSD Edge, and Isilon CloudPools delivers the capabilities needed to meet the growing data challenges facing healthcare organizations today and tomorrow. Our aim is to provide healthcare organization a storage investment protection and reduced OPEX & CAPEX by providing a solution that scales on demand in line with the data growth rate across the organization.

[1] http://www.emc.com/analyst-report/digital-universe-healthcare-vertical-report-ar.pdf

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