Redefining Healthcare Data Management through Object Storage

Redefining Healthcare Data Management through Object Storage

Healthcare Tech Outlook | Friday, November 30, 2018

The aggregation of data sets—structured and unstructured data—in physical files and limited-storage magnetic disks such as hard drives and CDs/DVDs in healthcare organizations makes it difficult for the admin to retrieve the requisite information when needed. Also, the records pile up in heaps over time, causing space constraint on the hospital premises. The application of evolving, cutting-edge technologies addresses the storage issue of confidential and sensitive medical records.

While there are numerous storage solutions available on the market, however, not all of them are practical. In addition, the need for healthcare organizations to follow stringent regulatory and business guidelines adds to intricateness of the operational environment. The new wave of revolution in storage technology arena has brought with it the solution to this concern with ‘object storage systems’. Object storage system is a technology that stores objects (i.e. data files) in a storage pool consisting of slots called ‘buckets’. Each bucket that stores objects can be labeled with an ID to locate data conveniently.

Unlike traditional file and block storage, there is no restriction on the storage file hierarchy since limitless IDs can be created to store information. The application program interface (API) used to administer object storage system can easily locate data points through either metadata or IDs in the object that uses a Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP)-based API. What’s more, the erasure coding manages data integrity.

Another important feature of this state of the art storage system is it provides the highest level of data protection from accidental deletion or loss. When one node fails, data can be retrieved from other nodes. Furthermore, the object storage system is an answer for critical problems like bit-rot, power outages and drive failures.

Here are some of the reasons why the healthcare industry must leverage object storage technology:

Data access and retention

According to state laws, it is mandatory for healthcare organizations to preserve its critical medical and clinical records pertaining to patients. While data may become worthless to a healthcare organization once the patient has been discharged, the data still needs to be preserved as a part of compliance. Also, medical practitioners can harness this data for their reference from anywhere provided they have an internet connection to retrieve the data. Another feature that makes it stand apart from other storage solutions is the details or information pertaining to patients can immediately be retrieved even with little. For instance, A CT Scan may have inadequate metadata which might not help to retrieve any details in a traditional storage solution. The low latency and node-based architecture of object storage system address this challenge while also allowing the user to fetch details using other data such as internal injuries or blood vessel.

The HIPAA compliance, covering almost all healthcare organizations, requires healthcare providers to comply with its policies on protecting the integrity of patient data and, the data maintained must be searchable, retrievable, and accessible.  To this end, the system allows for the recovery of data, in case of accidental deletion, through other nodes in the network hierarchy.

Makes patient care process streamlined, efficient, and economical

Leveraging object storage system benefits healthcare organizations to maintain HIPAA-based data management lifecycle while ensuring instant accessibility and file integrity with robust searches. Additionally, the automated healing capability of this innovative object storage system makes it an ideal choice for the archive needs of today’s healthcare industry.   

As healthcare organizations deal with different data sets including X-rays, videos, and electronic health records, object storage system’s ability to accept multiple data types makes it a scalable and a sustainable storage technology. With the exponential growth of data across and within the healthcare industry, every healthcare organization will turn to object storage solution for its ability to tackle prevalent storage crisis across the industry.       

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