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Expert: flash storage critical to health data management

Finding the right hospital data storage technology is critical not only because medical information is growing exponentially, but also because healthcare facilities are tasked with storing patient data under rules governed by HIPAA.

Jeff Rowe | Oct 19, 2017 12:09 pm

"If there are healthcare organizations that are not using any flash storage in their environments, those IT decision makers are likely doing a disservice to their organizations.”

So said Scott Sinclair, senior analyst at IT research firm Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., in a recent article at TechTarget.

As IT decision makers scout for technology that speeds up clinical workflows and drives cost savings into their hospital's business operations, many healthcare IT executives are increasingly turning to flash storage technology to improve the management and performance of large quantities of data.

As Sinclair sees things, the growing piles of digitized data from EHRs and picture archiving and communication systems should be enough of a reason to convince any health IT executive to turn to flash storage technology.

Among the many benefits that healthcare organizations can reap by using flash, says Sinclair, is the technology's ability to serve the concurrent needs of multiple applications while speeding data transmission.

"If I'm pulling up an image and I need to share it with multiple doctors and move it from one office to another, if it comes up in one second versus 30 seconds and you do that a thousand times a day, that can be impactful not just in the time that it takes, but the fact that these healthcare workers need time to digest it, analyze it and make sure that they are doing the right thing," he said. "This is in addition to the need to serve the concurrent creation of those records."

Moreover, according to Sinclair, because new advances in flash density have made it possible to host a petabyte or more of data into equipment that is only a foot or two tall, flash enables IT executives to have a different discussion that goes beyond data processing performance.

"It's phenomenal to think about how much flash storage can fit into a small space while using the power of a toaster oven," Sinclair said. "There's an opportunity cost that arises with data center design decisions. The space, power and cooling savings provided by flash can help healthcare organizations change their financial model, allowing resources to be allocated to more profitable and lifesaving activities.”