SEPTEMBER 5--Advances in digital imaging technology are making x-rays, CT scans, and other medical tests increasingly effective. But they're creating a huge challenge for hospital IT managers who are charged with storing and distributing all that digital data.
The good news is that storage technology is also advancing. For example, Eastman Kodak Co. (Rochester, NY; www.kodak.com) will begin shipping a rack-mounted storage unit for digital images and will use EMC Corp. (Hopkinton, MA) as its preferred provider of storage hardware and software for the system.
While computer radiology technology has existed for 20 years, the merging of proprietary medical systems with industry-standard data storage and network equipment is a new trend driven in part by greater patient demand and regulations requiring high-resolution digital images for diagnoses. "The higher the resolution, the more the pixels. The more pixels, the more storage," said John Webster, a storage-industry analyst at Illuminata Inc. (Nashua, NH). "That's what the medical community is driving toward."
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa, a set of federal regulations intended to protect and simplify the exchange of health-care data, is driving the use of more standardized technology to store digital images and patient records, said Barry Hieb, a physician and analyst at Gartner Inc. (Stamford, CT).