Cloud Object Storage for the Healthcare Data Blues
The healthcare industry continues to face tremendous cost challenges. The U.S. government estimates national health expenditures in the United States accounted for $3.2 trillion last year – nearly 18% of the country’s total GDP. There are many factors that drive up the cost of healthcare, such as the cost of new drug development and hospital readmissions. In addition, there’s compelling studies that show medical organizations will need to evolve their IT environment to curb healthcare costs and improve patient care in new ways, such as cloud-based healthcare models aimed at research community collaboration, coordinated care and remote healthcare delivery.
For example, Goldman Sachs recently predicted that the digital revolution can save $300 billion in spending in the healthcare sector by powering new patient options, such as home-based patient monitoring and patient self-management. Moreover, the most significant progress may come from a medical organization transforming their healthcare data infrastructure. Here’s why:
- Advancements in digital medical imaging has resulted in an explosion of data that sits in picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) and vendor neutral archives (VNAs).
- Patient care initiatives such as personalized medicine and genomics require storing, sharing and analyzing massive amounts of unstructured data.
- Regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) require organizations to have policies for long term image retention and business continuity.
Unfortunately, traditional file storage approaches aren’t well-suited to manage vast amounts of unstructured data and present several barriers to modernizing healthcare infrastructure. A recent Taneja Group survey found the top three challenges to be:
- Lack of flexibility: Traditional file storage appliances require dedicated hardware and don’t offer tight integration with collaborative cloud storage environments.
- Poor utilization: Traditional file storage requires too much storage capacity for system fault tolerance, which reduces usable storage.
- Inability to scale: Traditional storage solutions such as RAID-based arrays are gated by controllers and simply aren’t designed to easily expand to petabyte storage levels.
As a result, healthcare organizations are moving to object storage solutions that offer an architecture inherently designed for web scale storage environments. Specifically, object storage offers healthcare organizations the following advantages:
- Simplified management, hardware independence and a choice of deployment options – private, public or hybrid cloud – lowers operational and hardware storage costs
- Web-scale storage platform provides scale as needed and enables a pay as you go model
- Efficient fault tolerance protects against site failures, node failures and multiple disk failures
- Built in security protects against digital and physical breeches
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