Healthcare data storage options

Last updated:July 2017

Editor's note

Healthcare organizations are increasingly becoming inundated with data.

According to a 2014 IDC report, the volume of healthcare data in 2013 was 153 exabytes -- one exabyte equals a billion gigabytes. That number is projected to skyrocket to 2,314 exabytes by 2020.

When faced with this mountain of data -- 80% of which is unstructured -- one of the most pressing questions healthcare organizations must ask is how to store it all. While traditional disk-based healthcare data storage may be a viable option for smaller organizations, larger hospitals or health systems will need options that can handle data in the terabytes or petabytes.

Fortunately, there are options available for organizations that need to store large amounts of data. The cloud is still a popular choice, but flash is also beginning to gain ground as a storage option. Emerging blockchain technology is also being considered as a healthcare data storage option, although there may be hurdles to overcome first.

1Flash storage technology gains popularity

Flash is quickly becoming a viable alternative to disk- and cloud-based storage options. While the technology is fairly new in healthcare, it offers several benefits, such as low latency and instant access to data. Flash also offers nearly 100% uptime, so healthcare organizations don't have to worry about losing access to data in an outage.

2Blockchain as a healthcare data storage option

Blockchain has recently become one of the buzziest buzzwords in health IT; the technology is being touted as a possible solution for some of the biggest challenges in healthcare, such as interoperability and data exchange. However, some in health IT are considering the feasibility of blockchain as a healthcare data storage option as well.