SCAR primer addresses archiving issues

June 18, 2001

Digital image storage-related issues are hot topics to a range of healthcare workers: Radiologists need current and prior studies delivered rapidly and reliably. Clinicians demand quick and easy access to all electronic patient data, including medical

Digital image storage-related issues are hot topics to a range of healthcare workers: Radiologists need current and prior studies delivered rapidly and reliably. Clinicians demand quick and easy access to all electronic patient data, including medical images. Administrators want dependable and affordable storage solutions.

Meanwhile, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires that healthcare enterprises safeguard the privacy and security of all electronic medical records.

The short- and long-term storage capabilities of PACS are therefore of critical importance. Making the leap to a digital environment does not necessarily solve an institution's film storage problems - it can even expose an enterprise to far worse catastrophes than misplaced film. Entire archives can be damaged, lost, or degraded.

Archiving issues have become so compelling the Society for Computer Applications in Radiology (SCAR) has issued a book on the topic. "Archiving Issues in the Medical Enterprise" contains a series of articles edited by Drs. Bruce I. Reiner, Eliot L. Siegel, and Edward M. Smith, Sc.D. (ISBN 0-9706693-1-3). "Archiving Issues" is the second in a series of primers SCAR intends to release semiannually on issues of primary importance to healthcare.

The 124-page, large-format softcover book contains contributions from experts with various backgrounds. Eleven chapters cover the industry, consulting, law, academia, and private medical practice, from an introduction to image acquisition, archive managers, and storage by Smith to "Archiving: Future Technologies" by Dr. Steven C. Horii.

In one chapter, John S. Koller, director of healthcare technology at EMC, writes about the paradigm shift in computing from treating storage as a computer peripheral to a mission-critical functional component within the enterprise. Koller explains the emerging technologies that address this change:

?enterprise storage networks (ESNs)
?storage area networks (SANs)
?network attached storage (NAS)


He also describes how they relate to PACS - none of which seems to have been addressed yet by PACS vendors.

The implication is clear. The data explosion in healthcare and the limitations of current PACS storage architectures present the industry with a choice: make the move to network-based, dynamically scalable storage systems or risk falling behind.

"Archiving Issues" is available online from SCAR ( http://www.scarnet.org/ ) for $34.95 (members) or $39.95 (nonmembers).

SCAR's first primer, "Security Issues in the Digital Medical Enterprise," edited by Reiner, Siegel, and Samuel J. Dwyer, Ph.D., addresses the complex issues of medical data integrity, confidentiality, and dissemination of information over the Internet. It was issued last November.