Protecting Your Medical Imaging Data from Disaster

2013-01-21
 

 Protecting Medical Imaging Data

For millennia, the only avenue a doctor had to look inside the body was to cut a patient open. Then, on November 8, 1895, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen noticed an image cast from his cathode ray generator.

A week later, Rontgen took a photograph of his wife’s hand, which showed her wedding ring and her bones. Rontgen named this new form of radiation, X-radiation (X standing for Unknown.) This was the beginning of x-rays and radiology.

Since that time, numerous forms of medical imagery have evolved and advanced from film images to thousands of digital files. In fact, with the sheer amount of medical imaging data now available, it would be a catastrophic problem if a very plausible disaster scenario wiped out even a small percentage of this information.

Lessons from Katrina

“In a disaster recovery setting, the ideal situation is to have electronic records that can follow the patients,” said Robert Lynch, M.D., president and CEO of Tulane Medical Center. “Several New Orleans hospitals lost almost their entire medical records departments. Patients were evacuated to other areas of the country, and some who were being treated for cancer neither knew what treatment they were receiving nor what type of cancer they had.” (Source: ForTheRecord)

Whether caused by a natural disaster or something less dramatic, interruption of medical imaging services can quickly compromise patient care. Considering the vital role of medical images, limiting such interruptions is essential, so radiology departments need to have disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place.

R. L. “Skip” Kennedy, MSc, CIIP, technical director of imaging informatics for Kaiser Permanente medical centers in northern California says many facilities’ policies and procedures on how to respond to a service interruption contain statements indicating that “if the PACS fails, we’ll go back to film.”

“How are you going to do that [when you] got rid of the last printers four years ago?” he asked. “We haven’t kept pace with the fact that we’re now completely dependent on digital imaging. …

“When a server fails at Google, Google doesn’t put a business continuity plan in action—the systems themselves compensate for that—and that’s where we need to be.” (Source: Radiology Today)

McKesson Enterprise Image Repository Aids in Disaster Recovery

McKesson Enterprise Image Repository, our new enterprise medical imaging system, compensates for just such a business continuity plan. It simplifies enterprise-wide access to image information with a single point of distribution for image data, while also supporting image data sharing between disparate healthcare enterprises or systems, where such sharing is permitted. So if one system fails, the image information is maintained at this central location.

From an administrative viewpoint, managing a separate PACS at every facility is not an effective use of resources. Building and maintaining disaster recovery into many individual systems can become difficult and expensive.

McKesson Enterprise Image Repository reduces the escalating, image-management-related expenditures, including hardware and operating costs, through system consolidation, including management of image data.  In turn, this reduces the number of individual systems that need maintenance and disaster recovery plans.

Ultimately, what this system does is not dissimilar in objective to what Röntgen did when developing the X-Ray to avoid cutting open a patient.  Rather than cutting into multiple systems to see missing data, Enterprise Image Repository allows you to see it all – from a comfortable vantage point above it all.

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