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Hospitals strive for centralized image archives

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While some users forge ahead with internal centralization efforts, other healthcare IT managers are eyeing private or public cloud storage as a solution to data growth and manageability in the face of obstacles to centralization.

"In Massachusetts, the retention for medical records was 30 years, seven years for images and office records, and now [there's talk] they're going to change that regulation to 15 years, but that's still 15 years of storage," said NEBH's Botticelli. "That's huge. For us, we just don't have buildings and data center space to put up the spinning disk. It's a challenge."

BIDMC's Passe is sticking with the internal private cloud route for now using Atmos. "Atmos support for multi-tenancy gives the ability to securely wall off one department's data from another and show them what their usage is," he said. "The internal cloud is like dipping a toe in the water. When we first looked at it, it seemed like the right thing; it's just that everybody's terrified of the security model and the SLA model when you start to go into the 'real [public] cloud.'

"I can see [external public clouds] being useful if you're spinning off organizations, or if you're bringing in new external organizations, or if you have to bring in data from external organizations that you're being paid on a contract basis to read," Passe continued. "When [PACS vendors] make the leap and

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start to look at REST in earnest, it's huge . . . Web 2.0 includes the metadata with the object, so imagine not having to have the databases . . . that eliminates one more piece of the puzzle or at least makes it redundant so if the database crashes, you can rebuild it from the objects themselves."

"In theory, vendor neutrality would eliminate a lot of costs in the environment," Laurus Technologies' Teodoro said. "I just don't know the feasibility of [centralization]. I think healthcare organizations will look at the cloud first."

BIO: Beth Pariseau is a former senior news writer for TechTarget's Storage Media Group; she is now assigned to TechTarget's Data Center Media Group.

This was first published in August 2010

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