The Role of Medical Image & Patient Data Management In Improving Patient Care

While healthcare IT teams know that clinical application users need fast, easy, reliable ways to access, analyze and update patient data, they don’t always know how to deliver truly responsive solutions, designed to accommodate burgeoning amounts of data generated by new technology and treatments.


As advanced medical imaging, artificial intelligence, genomics and precision medicine propel patient treatments and the healthcare industry forward, IT teams work feverishly behind the scenes to devise new and innovative ways to utilize their infrastructure to meet current demand, while simultaneously anticipating future needs.


Hasty, cobbled together solutions may provide quick fixes to solve immediate problems, but to truly future-proof their infrastructure, IT teams need to focus on creating a simple, fast and cost-effective solution, built for the long term.

Keep It Simple

An infrastructure that requires multiple operating systems with siloed data storage means more time managing IT and less time investigating and innovating patient care.  By implementing an enterprise storage solution across all hospital platforms, IT teams can foster innovation and optimize operations while enabling clinical application users to improve patient care and outcomes.


“Supporting caregivers is significantly easier once IT teams have an infrastructure in place that accelerates, simplifies, and future-proofs their organization,” said Joey Hobbs, NetApp Strategic Alliance Manager. “IT teams can reduce complexity by offering users more effective, reliable access to vast quantities of clinical data, which ultimately speeds critical decision-making and improves patient care.”


Tony Turner, a NetApp Strategic Partner Manager agrees. “Leveraging a modern data management infrastructure, IT teams can almost effortlessly improve access to all types of information.  Take medical imaging for example, which historically has been challenging due to interoperabity of PACS and multiple storage silos within the organization. The NetApp Data Fabric provides a platform where accessibility remains high, but gives IT the flexibility to move, manage and store medical images in the most cost-effective environments, depending on retrieval requirements.”

Need For Speed

Electronic medical records brought current patient data directly to the point of care, dramatically reducing delays in diagnosis and treatment. Promising methods for improving patient care are on the horizon, but to take advantage of them, healthcare IT teams must continue to adopt new technologies that enable rapid review and analysis of patient data, without downtime.


NetApp All Flash FAS is measurably the world’s fastest flash technology, but it also delivers simplicity and flexibility in clinical environments,” Joey explains. “We regularly see deployment times go from hours or even days, down to 10 minutes, and backup and recovery takes a fraction of the time.”

Consider The Cloud

Budget cuts and increasing costs fuel a battle for every dollar across today’s healthcare organizations. By shrinking the cost of infrastructure purchase, deployment and operation, IT can increase funding for diagnostic and treatment technology, enabling caregivers to provide cutting edge care.


One of the best ways to reduce infrastructure cost is moving to a secure cloud environment. IT teams can quickly decrease application deployment time while creating a reliable, scalable solution for patient data management –  as well as provide a cost-effective solution for storing and accessing medical images.


Historically speaking, accessing and storing data produced by MRIs, CTs, ultrasounds and x-rays, has proven extremely difficult due to ever growing size and volume of images.  Obtaining access to these images outside the walls of where they originated has become easier due to increased network bandwidth and cheaper costs, yet many IT teams are still grappling with the best way to move, manage and protect them.


Healthcare institutions that have embraced a hybrid approach have fared quite well, as they can easily move copies to the cloud to keep them secure and make them more accessible, while adhering to HIPPA regulations and image retention policies that can vary from state to state.  Medical imaging is the classic definition of unstructured data meaning that images must be remain accessible for the foreseeable future, although may never be accessed again.  This is a headache for hospital IT organizations because they have to maintain massive storage arrays for data that is not accessed often.


“By utilizing a hybrid storage array and moving some of this unstructured data to the cloud, IT teams can create a cost-efficient enterprise imaging strategy,” said Tony.  He concluded, “Healthcare organizations that embrace hybrid cloud storage can quickly gain organizational efficiencies by enabling healthcare IT teams to make more informed decisions by placing their data where it makes the most sense for their organization.”


Mary Hayes

Mary believes in "good work that does good", and brings more than 25 years of experience to her role as Senior Healthcare Marketing Manager at NetApp. A former healthcare advertising writer and creative director, she is a tenured brand and communications strategist with experience planning and executing results-driven programs for hospitals/health systems, pharma, medical device and equipment manufacturers, biochemicals, and healthcare NPOs.