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CTO discusses health data storage, EHR technologies and medical images

Health data storage plays an important role when it comes to EHRs and medical imaging. Pure Storage's CTO discusses integrating storage technologies with EHRs and medical image storage.

In this Q&A, Vik Nagjee, formerly the CTO for Epic Systems Corp. and currently the CTO of global healthcare solutions for Pure Storage, an enterprise data flash storage company based in Mountain View, Calif., looks to the future when it comes to health data storage technologies in healthcare. He discusses how he thinks health data storage and EHR technologies will integrate in the future and how he thinks storage will evolve to accommodate large medical image files. Nagjee also discusses which storage technologies he thinks are best suited to handle large medical image files.

How do you see health data storage and EHR technologies integrating in the future?

Vik Nagjee: It's not uncommon for a large, complex organization to have deployed over a thousand systems, a thousand applications. [Healthcare organizations are] responsible for maintaining environments that are super sophisticated and complex to manage and handle thousands of applications. Now let's talk a little bit about one of these applications … it's around [virtual desktop infrastructure] VDI. Now why is VDI important in healthcare? There are two reasons. Number one is that VDI gives you the ability to provide a very seamless, secure, consistent application experience to your end users. That's IT's goal. Then, from an end user's standpoint, VDI on a robust infrastructure … gives the end user a performance experience like they've never seen. So this is where … we start to get a little bit into the intersection of consumer IT versus enterprise IT.

Everybody has experience with their iPhones or their Android devices and end users are very, very savvy these days ... Everybody expects you to be able to have enterprise applications that are very similar to consumer apps.

You pull out your phone. You click an icon. The app pops right up. You interact with it. You close your phone, put it back in your pocket or purse. Why can't enterprise applications be the same? Why can't they respond the same? Why can't they be accessible in the same way? Why can't I access my enterprise apps from my couch at home? VDI bridges that problem from an end-user standpoint, but you have to have the right infrastructure to be able to provide the right experience and right kind of experience to people for VDI.

Vik Nagjee, CTO of global healthcare solutions, Pure StorageVik Nagjee

How do you see health data storage technologies evolving in order to accommodate large medical image files? In your opinion, what do you think is the most promising health data storage technology out there that is able to do that?

Nagjee: So today we have, in healthcare IT organizations, essentially two kinds of storage. There's your tier one storage, which is used for all of your applications that are latency-sensitive, like your mental records. Then there's tier two storage, which is used for everything else, including, but not limited to, imaging. Imaging is more file and object … so that is typically provisioned behind very slow spinning disks. What's happening in that particular space is that innovation … helped IT. Innovation and regulatory requirements are going to, very soon, basically spin that particular market entirely on its head. There's a big pivot point coming.

From my perspective … flash is going to replace everything in the data center.
Vik NagjeeCTO of global healthcare solutions, Pure Storage

Tie it directly back to clinical pathology. Clinical pathology and pathology-based imaging is something that is just around the corner. It's not only going to be something that people just try out, but it's going to be something that people jump on, jump into with both feet.

Now the volumes associated with clinical pathology will dwarf any of the volumes that people have seen thus far from the perspective of DICOM [Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine] images and imaging. Not only that, but the rendering and access to this particular type of data changes the access patterns from what people have been used to. From my perspective … flash is going to replace everything in the data center. 

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