Hospital adds a SAN to soup up its storage

Electronically archiving thousands of disparate medical records so they can be retrieved swiftly and accurately can be a daunting task – but it’s a challenge Guelph General Hospital (GGH) addressed head on.

Over the next three years, the hospital will transfer onto a single, scalable electronic health record (EHR) clinical data aggregated from multiple sources – nursing notes, physician orders, images and much more.

This project won’t be easy, given the sheer volume and complexity of information to be transferred. But with the latest storage technology from EMC Canada in Toronto, the hospital’s IT department plans to make it all happen – in time and on budget.

For starters, Guelph General has deployed EMC’s CLARiiON CX700-based Storage Area Network (SAN) solution.

The SAN solution, said Jason Winter, the hospital’s IT manager, has paved the way for implementing a brand new picture archiving communications system (PACS).

He said the new SAN will house an entire year’s assortment of clinical data and images generated by the latest applications from Westwood, Mass.-based Medical Information Technology, Inc. (MEDITECH), as well as the hospital’s new GE Healthcare Centricity PACS environment. The PACS images will be seamlessly migrated to the hospital’s EMC Centera content addressed storage (CAS) platform.

The SAN implementation involved a complete overhaul of the hospital’s technology infrastructure, Winter said.

For instance, he said, MEDITECH-based clinical data, resided on aging DEC Alpha servers that functioned within a decentralized file, print and Microsoft Exchange environment.

Information management was slow and cumbersome, and conducted on a server-by-server basis. Supporting servers could not accommodate the burgeoning PACS. The intermediary solution, which depended on removable storage media, generated excessive overhead.

Winter said the hospital issued an RFP for storage products that would accommodate its immediate needs, as well as future requirements. He said the EMC solution fitted the bill and the transition to the new system was very smooth.

The hallmark of the new SAN system is its flexibility, according to Frank Kolb, EMC Canada Client Solutions manager. This feature, he said, is particularly useful to Guelph General – given that hospital’s rapidly changing needs.

“Organic growth…will happen over time, [and] there will be natural upgrades to the environment as Guelph General puts more information on to their infrastructure.”

Kolb noted that an application of the type implemented by Guelph General tends to rollover servers more regularly than storage.

As needs grow, he said, the system can accommodate a daily change of approach. “I can continue to add capacity as [needed and] will never be capped.”

EMC solutions for PACS and EHR can be integrated with radiology, cardiology, and hospital information systems to automate clinical information workflow.

Other health facilities that have implemented this technology include Fraser Health Authority, Interior Health Authority (both in British Columbia), Kingston General Hospital and Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston, and Scarborough Hospital and Trillium Health Centre in Toronto.

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