One of the biggest pain points for medical facilities today is managing increasing volumes of image data.
To help ease that pain, Hewlett Packard (HP) and Iron Mountain have joined forces in a collaboration that offers mid-sized hospitals and imaging centers a new service for protecting and storing their rising volume of diagnostic images. The service includes Iron Mountain’s new Digital Record Center for medical images is a disaster recovery and long-term archiving service that is powered by the HP Medical Archive solution (MAS). The service delivers on-demand access to diagnostic images, and assists healthcare organizations meet compliance with federal laws for handling patient data and reduce long-term storage costs.
As a managed service, the Digital Record Center for Medical Images provides secure, off-site, back-up protection without requiring hospitals and imaging centers to set aside storage systems, data center space, staff and capital investments. This helps medical institutions to reduce their storage costs and allows them to redirect resources to clinical operations.
Imaging Technology News (ITN) Editor, Cristen Bolan, spoke with Ken Rubin, senior vice president of strategic alliances for Iron Mountain and Lisa Dali, worldwide product marketing manager for HP Medical Archive solution about the scope of the project, the services’ impact on medical imaging information management and how the HP-Iron Mountain collaboration will expand.
ITN’s Cristen Bolan (CB): What is the objective of the collaboration?
Ken Rubin (KR): Iron Mountain and Hewlett Packard (HP) are forging an alliance based on delivering a medical imaging archiving service. In the partnership, Iron Mountain has based its technology on the HP MAS platform. The partnership extends from a go to market to service and delivery and technology. So it is a rich partnership.
We have two service offerings. One is a disaster recovery service offering, and one in is disaster recovery in long-term archiving. The customers can choose either one of those services.
All of the services revolve around the tremendous problem of the growth of images. Hospitals and imaging centers are suffering from data protection. They have to have disaster recovery, yet they don’t have the facility structure, and they have a risk of exposure they have to manage.
The other set of problems is around archiving. The long-term cost associated with managing these large files that are growing. The PACS adoption rate is high and the size of the studies has grown around 16 percent a year and the volume has grown around 10 percent a year.
All of those factors have created a big storage problem for hospitals. Plus there is the HIPAA requirement around disaster recovery.
CB: What is your target market?
KR: Our service is responding to the pressures in those areas and we are focusing on mid-market imaging centers and hospitals. These organizations have all of the problems associated with disaster recovery and managing the cost of archiving without the IT resources and inaccess to capital. We are offering a service where they can rent the service on a per study basis.
CB: How large do you estimate the mid-market imaging center and hospital market to be?
KR: It’s around 12,000 entities, around 6, 000 hospitals. It is a $3.2 billion business because it includes recurring revenue. With 900 million studies being created in 2008, and if you cascade that forward in about five years, it will potentially mark up to upscale to about $3.2 billion, which will grow from there.
The problems on the archiving side are that hospitals store their most recent studies in a tier 1 storage system for rapid access. And with the overflow, they have to fund an archive, such as work-attached storage or a SAN. And they need the capital to feed it because it’s growing like a weed.
If they use our service, they obviate the need for paying their own storage and we can do it for them on a lower total cost of ownership basis. Plus they get the disaster recovery advantage of moving it offsite where it can be immediately available.
CB: How does your service lower the total cost of ownership?
KR: In the equation of what makes up the cost, a quarter of it is the cost per gigabyte, and the other three quarters are around overhead: space, utilities and maintenance.
We already have large data centers, a few underground data centers, we have low utility rates, and efficient operations because we already manage this type of business, staff leverage and lower cost of real estate. Hospitals pay $300-$400 a square foot for real estate, and they don’t have access to IT labor to do back up on a consistent basis and manage obsolescence issues. We are also lower cost because our cost of capital low as a producer.
Lisa Dali (LD): One of the challenges is keeping medical imaging data protected to meet compliance with HIPAA. A lot of customers want to keep the data indefinitely, regardless of the retention mandates by HIPAA. The challenge is to keep access.
So the back end infrastructure that is at Iron Mountain data bunkers is built on HP MAS. So we can help customers lower costs by dealing with onsite storage, IT management, data center space real estate, etc., with an archive gateway connecting them by a secure VPN to the HP MAS infrastructure in the data bunkers. MAS is a factory-integrated HP storage works disc, HP client servers and HP index server and management software. All of it is centrally managed and from a security perspective it offers customers the option to have offsite storage. That will help customers meet HIPAA requirements.
CB: If HP’s technology enables the cost to lower even further, how does HP compete on cost compared to IBM’s GMAS and other grid-base solutions?
KR: The cost equation is only 25 percent storage technology. It is three quarters other things. This is a managed service. The most realistic way to look at it is looking at the total cost.
LD: The key is integrated disc storage. HP’s integrated disk storage and software are supported by one vendor. Versus our competitors, such as IBM’s GMAS hardware and software, which are supported and warranted separately.
The grid technology enables the team at Iron Mountain to build out to support customers as they are onboarded so that customers don’t have to continue from a capital perspective or an IT personnel perspective to worry about evaluating the growth and storage and what that is going to mean to their onsite overall investment. With managed storage, customers don’t have to worry about migrating information from old gear to new gear. That is serviced by Iron Mountain and powered by the grid backbone of the HP medical archive solution.
KR: Clients are not writing a capital check upfront, but a monthly fee based on usage. We’re financing it to them like leasing the car. So they don’t have to pay anything up front.
CB: Will HP and Iron Mountain eventually offer storage services for electronic medical records?
KR: We are initially making available our service for medical images, however, it is a part of the vision to take on more of the EMR type records for hospitals.
LD: We have the foundation to archive medical fixed content.
KR: It’s not a technical limitation. It’s just our point of entry. We have chosen medical imaging as our point of entry because it’s the sharpest point of pain because of the intensive volume. We match up competitively with the other alternatives hospitals have, and we have listened to our own customers who have identified medical imaging .
LD: Healthcare has the longest record retention requirements than any other industry, and medical imaging is the fastest growing vertical industry for digital archival storage. So clearly the market it there, the demand is there and the customers’ pain point is there.