Remote service improves PACS data management

September 12, 2005

StorageTek, long known for equipment that records and safeguards PACS data, has enhanced its healthcare offerings by adding the Remote Managed Storage (RMS) service. The RMS service not only stores critical imaging, patient care, and business information but proactively manages the data archiving and retrieval process.

StorageTek, long known for equipment that records and safeguards PACS data, has enhanced its healthcare offerings by adding the Remote Managed Storage (RMS) service. The RMS service not only stores critical imaging, patient care, and business information but proactively manages the data archiving and retrieval process.

The RMS service can remotely correct between 95% and 98% of the problems a hospital or imaging center might encounter in administering, managing, or reconfiguring PACS data from its 24/7 operations center in Boston, said Robert Kershen, StorageTek's business manager for North America. It can dispatch customer service engineers to fix remaining hardware or software problems onsite, often before the IT department in a hospital even knows about them.

Any data management system can experience a hardware or software failure, Kershen said. But a hospital that runs its IT operation beyond the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift, when IT staff are at work, might not know a failure has occurred until the next morning.

"We monitor for any issue on a 24/7 basis, so we are immediately alerted when there is a problem with the storage infrastructure, server, or software," he said. "Knowing that, we can send an engineer to resolve the problem quickly, potentially preventing an outage or at least recovering the system as quickly as possible."

The RMS service, which is available as a new installation or an upgrade for PACS currently using StorageTek equipment, promises to prevent common mistakes, such as running out of the storage tapes on which PACS data are written. If an IT administrator fails to keep a ready supply of fresh and initialized tapes, the storage and retrieval process has to shut down. But the RMS service reviews on a daily basis the "health" status of the data storage system, including the archiving and recycling functions, as well as the tape and disk devices. The service notifies users when tapes, archival space, disk utilization, and drives are reaching a critical threshold level, so they can be replaced without incurring system downtime.

The data storage management service looks ahead to anticipate changes in a hospital's future IT needs that might occur with the addition of technologies such as a 64-slice CT scanner, according to Jitu Curankar, StorageTek's marketing manager.

Unlike competitive offerings that monitor individual aspects of the data storage and retrieval process, StorageTek's RMS service monitors the entire storage solution, from software to disk to tape, Curankar said.

The RMS service supports StorageTek's Application Storage Manager (ASM) software, which accepts data from its PACS partner companies, including Agfa Healthcare, Rorke Data, and Siemens Medical Solutions. ASM then automatically transports the data from a disk to a tape storage archive, which can be tapped whenever images need to be retrieved.

"The service saves hospitals money by preventing system downtime, eliminating the need to hire an administrator for the system," Kershen said.

It also eliminates the need for off-hours or after-hours data management or monitoring, he said.

"The service allows hospital staff to concentrate on what they do best: provide care to patients," Curankar said.