Hospital Takes a Bite Out of Electronic Medical Records Storage to Create Mounds of Big Data

Have you ever tried to download photos off your camera to your computer, only to realize you were running out of space? Or maybe you stored an important document only to discover that it had become corrupt beyond repair. Now image that your life depended on it. That’s exactly the kind of situations St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson Mississippi has to plan for and prevent. With healthcare reform requiring an increased use in electronic medical records (EMR), patient chart sizes were ballooning. With a data growth rate of 20% annually the hospital was quickly running out of storage space.

We caught up with Wendell Pinegar, Application Supervisor at St. Dominic’s and spoke with him about the predicament, and what they did about it. He was quick to go into detail about their Big Data challenges and what they did to convert them into opportunities to simplify and improve the reliability of their network storage infrastructure.

St. Dominic’s blend of NetApp and other legacy storage solutions lacked the performance and capacity it needed to manage its EMRs, PACS archives, home directories, departmental shares and document management systems. In order to keep pace with the increasing demand the hospital needed to take action. Big Data was only going to get bigger as EMRs continued to pile up, and overwhelming storage during peak demand or running out of space could seriously diminish the ability for clinicians to access patient records and provide needed patient care.

St. Dominic’s considered the list of large-scale storage frontrunners: EMC, Dell, IBM, NetApp and Scale Computing, and ultimately selected an EMC Isilon solution. We weren’t surprised when Wendell said, “We were impressed with the simplicity of EMC Isilon. Having one name space and a single large volume for all of our data made our network storage much easier to manage. We also found that EMC Isilon worked right out of the box without hours of complex configuration. That hasn’t been the case with most of the storage solutions we previously purchased.”

Improving patient care isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of IT, but that’s what St. Dominic was able to do after implementing EMC Isilon. The time to retrieve medical documents has decreased to less than a second, all because the hospital increased the performance of its enterprise storage infrastructure by over 1,000%. And, in an industry where lives can depend on the accuracy, reliability and speed of data retrieval, the hospital has also managed to achieve 100% uptime. That’s quite a feat!

One reason St. Dominic went with EMC Isilon was because of its simplicity. EMC Isilon dramatically simplified storage administration for the hospital and save an anticipated 50% annually in long-term storage costs. And, because St. Dominic’s spends less time on administrative tasks, it has been able to spend more time on other projects that benefit the hospital.

Wendell summed it up this way, “At St. Dominic we realize that it’s all about the patient and are ever mindful that our purpose is to serve those in need. EMC Isilon has helped simplify our infrastructure while improving the quality of patient care and the overall efficiency of our organization. This allows us to concentrate on the bigger picture and work toward strategic improvements within the hospital and we simply couldn’t do that without EMC Isilon.”

As we hear every day, Big Data is everywhere, and St. Dominic is just one of the many great examples of organizations that are harnessing it with the help of EMC. How are you managing your Big Data growth?

About the Author: Jen Sorenson