Explore health IT data storage strategies

Health IT storage options face an overload of patient data

For many healthcare organizations, data volumes are going up at crazy rates. Last year, a hospital IT manager told SearchHealthIT that the medical facility saw data increases ranging from 25% to an incredible 100% year over year, depending on the data type generated.

Meanwhile, the results of a 2017 TechTarget purchasing intentions survey -- conducted in conjunction with the College of Health Information Management Executives -- showed that increased healthcare data storage needs were driving health IT technology purchases at 30% of respondents' organizations. That number was at 19% just a year earlier.

That's a lot of data flying around medical centers, ambulatory clinics and physician practices.

Technology offers options to meet healthcare data storage challenges resulting from this inundation of information. One area that I personally keep my ears open about is flash storage, which allows quicker access to data for users while using less power and cooling compared to traditional storage drives. Flash also uses no moving parts, which cannot be said for spinning disks.

However, flash can be more expensive initially -- sometimes four times as expensive, hospitals IT professionals have said -- although organizations may make up some of that ground in the long term with less power costs and improved overall storage performance.

Large capacity all-flash arrays are on the market and will surpass hard disk drives in that regard. Additionally, hybrid flash systems bring both flash and hard disk features for organizations that need the advantages of both systems.

Meanwhile, hospitals struggle to find the best balance of on-site and cloud storage, which we dig into with this handbook. Despite cloud-based healthcare data storage gaining acceptance, there remains a strong desire to maintain complete control of patient data that on-premises systems provide.

Hand in hand with that concern is the risk of a business interruption, such as a cloud outage or security breach, and what plans should be put in place for recovery efforts. Such steps are important for medical settings, in which acute patient care can't be delayed and HIPAA compliance is never-ending.