Lowering the cost and complexity of medical image archiving through the cloud

Cloud adoption in healthcare has a large footprint and is continuing to grow quickly. In a recent survey conducted by HIMSS Analytics, 80 percent of the 150 healthcare organizations across the U.S. who responded reported that they currently use cloud services to help reduce maintenance costs, speed deployment of new applications and address the lack of internal resources needed to support technology. The survey further indicated that those healthcare organizations experienced in using cloud, plan to expand and grow their cloud services footprint.

Data back-up and recovery is one of the earliest successful use cases contributing to a positive climate of change. As cloud adoption continues to take root, cloud is delivering on the promise to help healthcare organizations drive down costs while enabling improved services through agility, scalability and robust security features.

A New Frontier

Much of what cloud is able to do well has to do with storing and managing data. With 90% of the world’s data created within the last two years and data growth currently predicted to double every two years, it is interesting to note that medical imaging consumes 30% of the world’s storage. But the cost of managing medical data is high with hardware, software and IT resources needed to effectively store, archive, access and retrieve. For healthcare organizations who have invested heavily in proprietary PACS solutions, Vendor Neutral Archiving, tightly coupled with cloud infrastructure represents an opportunity to help reduce cost and complexity.

Breaking Down Silos

The growth and value of VNA was explored by Microsoft a few months ago in a blog post authored by Jon Hamdorf, Director of Global VNA Solutions at Perceptive Software. In this posting, Hamdorf establishes the critical minimum requirements that a VNA framework must contain to ensure that the solution delivers greater value than a PACS alternative.

His contention is that VNA is a necessity. Not simply for the cost savings but more importantly for collaboration and interoperability of data. For healthcare, the biggest opportunity lies in the capabilities of VNA to connect disparate departments and healthcare providers, putting control of the data back into the hands of those who need to access it. As healthcare providers seek to improve patient services at a lower per capita cost, VNA enables greater immediate access to critical information while a shared cloud cost model helps drives down operational budgets.

Many PACS systems are nearing end-of-life and hospitals are facing expensive upgrade or re-fresh projects that will commit them to a less flexible future. Now is the time to look closely at the advantage of cloud-based VNA alternatives to help ensure high availability, robust security features, improved accessibility and recoverability of the data.

A Phased Approach

For organizations considering moving from PACS to VNA, Microsoft is recommending a phased approach. This ensures that healthcare providers can adopt a low-risk strategy while moving to and gaining experience with a VNA cloud model. Each phase is designed to deliver incremental value, mapping to an expected return on investment:

Phase 1– Begin with simply storage. Maintain your primary data on-site while establishing image backup in the cloud through an on-premises VNA  that regularly streams data to Microsoft Azure;

Phase 2– Establish two Data Centers. Data Center One is on premise while Data Center Two is fully available on the Microsoft Azure cloud, allowing Disaster Recovery and High Availability;

Phase 3 – Establish policies around governance. For example, archive all data in the primary copy that is three years or older to the cloud while ensuring archived data is still easy to access and restore.











Want to Know More?

To learn more about how the Microsoft Azure cloud can support Perceptive Software’s Vendor Neutral Archive, talk to your Microsoft Account Team.