New survey identifies healthcare data upsurge

May 27, 2010

Research from a global survey by BridgeHead Software has found that medical images, scanned documents, e-mail, and advances toward the electronic electronic medical record (EMR) are the likely causes for the upsurge in healthcare data that is already challenging hospitals and is set to grow further in the foreseeable future.

Research from a global survey by BridgeHead Software has found that medical images, scanned documents, e-mail, and advances toward the electronic electronic medical record (EMR) are the likely causes for the upsurge in healthcare data that is already challenging hospitals and is set to grow further in the foreseeable future.

Results from the Data Management Healthcheck 2010, a global survey into the healthcare industry’s ongoing strategies for managing their IT systems, found that more than two-thirds (69%) of healthcare organizations expected their data volumes to increase this year. Less than 6% expected data volumes to stay constant and 1% expected data volumes to decrease.

The majority (65%) of respondents who expected their data volumes to increase said PACS imaging files were the main culprits, followed by EMR files (45.5%) and scanned documents, e.g. proof of insurance and healthcare proxies (43%).

Significantly, 84% of respondents said over half their healthcare organizations’ data were over six months old. Yet only 26% claimed to have a full archiving capability that migrated content to the appropriate storage tiers as dictated by their predefined policies.

The research also discovered that over 44% of hospitals were managing more than 5 TB on a primary store. Only 12% said they were managing less than 1 TB on a primary store.

“Data volumes are increasing as the world of healthcare continues to embrace the digital age,” said John McCann, director of marketing at BridgeHead Software. A troubling trend we’ve noticed, however, is that some healthcare organizations are not paying due attention to their data management and storage solution strategies.”

Many of the hospitals’ IT infrastructures are not prepared to handle the rise in data resulting from the increased use of medical images, the continued move towards the electronic health record (including historical document scanning), and the massive upsurge in office-based computing; e.g., e-mails, spreadsheets, and word processing documents, he said.

“Many are ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away, while others are implementing quick fixes that resolve the issue for now, but are not future-proof. As data volumes continue to grow, some organizations will find their challenges gradually become harder-not easier-to resolve,” he said.

But savvy healthcare IT professionals realize that underpinning their digital environments with a robust data management and storage strategy can help them save time, reduce costs, lower carbon emissions from their IT infrastructures, and improve patient care, McCann said. It will also help them get the full value of their clinical information.

“BridgeHead Software’s Healthcare Storage Virtualization (HSV) technology platform decouples applications from the storage device and creates common pools of shareable storage hardware that can be accessed as needed, regardless of the application or data type,” he said. “It is vendor-agnostic and allows healthcare organizations to take full control of their clinical data.”

The product debuted in the U.K. at Health Informatics Congress (HC2010) in Birmingham this April.

At HC2010, BridgeHead Software also released results from the Data Management Healthcheck’s section devoted to green IT. The survey found that less than a quarter of respondents’ hospitals had a specific CO2 reduction target. Just 16% monitored energy consumption across their IT infrastructures on a regular basis, and less than 3% claimed to use a carbon-offset scheme to target data center carbon emissions.