Hybrid storage slashes EHR access times for Hutchinson Clinic
One 90-provider specialist practice is seeing improved workflows and better patient care after deploying hybrid storage capabilities aimed at accelerating the performance of its electronic health record, billing and practice management systems.
In July, the Hutchinson, Kansas-based Hutchinson Clinic implemented Nimble's Storage's Predictive Flash Platform, which consists of Adaptive Flash and All Flash arrays that support a disaster recovery strategy.
Almost all applications at Hutchinson integrate into its EHR, with every employee and ancillary program feeding into the system. The result of this was delayed access times – up to one to two minutes to access a file, according to Chris Swartz, senior network and server analyst at Hutchinson Clinic.
"I had an ever increasing need for better performance," Swartz said. "It's the trickle-down effect, if I have one system running slowly, it can affect the rest of the organization."
To combat this, he made the decision to implement Nimble's hybrid storage, which combines flash-based storage with hard disk drives to drive performance. The platform was ideal for Hutchinson as it is designed for a high transaction rate.
The volume of Hutchinson's EHR data is very large – more than a terabyte, Swartz explained. It's also a very busy database by itself, as just about every staff member – about 650 employees – is using one or both of the systems. Hutchinson's analytics programs also cause a substantial drain on core database systems.
Furthermore, many of the recent healthcare reporting measures "chew up a lot all of the resources that the net app could provide," Swartz continued.
The platform also allows the IT department to view the performance rates and has its own analytics to determine areas for improvement, Swartz said. And even when the cache was overloaded, it didn't noticeably affect the performance. However, once the size of the cache was upgraded, the performance improved.
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"We rolled out the platform last summer, and immediately began to see improvements," he said. "I no longer have issues with poor performance, such as lagging servers or slow boots, which were constant with Hutchinson's aging storage. All of those problems immediately went away.
"Enterprise storage is expensive and we wanted maximum bang for the buck," Swartz added, noting that, when moving storage to Nimble it was "a matter of opening the product and finishing running through a wizard.
"You actually find when you move to a piece of equipment like this, you're eliminating all of the old problems you faced with old storage," he said. "This takes no time at all."