Time to Get Strategic about Data Storage, Archiving

The healthcare industry is producing more data than ever before, which is a good thing, as all this information is expected to bring about improved care. But with every rose comes a thorn. And, some healthcare organizations are finding themselves in prickly situations as they are putting all of this valuable and sensitive information at risk by failing to implement updated data archiving and backup practices, according to a recently released HIMSS Analytics study.

"By 2015, most hospitals are expected to have undergone a massive, data- and reform-driven transformation," said Lorren Pettit, vice president, market research, HIMSS Analytics. "Between the conversion to ICD-10 for better coding, meeting Meaningful Use milestones for data sharing at the point-of-care, and the continued influx of EMR/EHR systems, hospitals will have created an exponential proliferation of data volume. As this survey shows, all that data is generating problems that senior healthcare IT executives are not currently considering, making the need to develop a successful strategy to manage and protect that data essential." 

The survey of 150 senior level technology professionals at hospitals across the country found that many of these hospitals are: 

Not correctly classifying data. A majority of hospitals classify an average of 75 percent of their clinical data as "active," meaning they store it onsite for immediate access. However, less than 30 percent of this data is actually accessed after 18 months. As such, these organizations could more cost-effectively store data in other mediums.

Not developing much-needed data storage strategies. Only about half (52%) of the hospitals have a data archiving strategy in place, with 83% citing compliance as the chief reason. Yet with much of the active data not accessed over time, an archive strategy can help reduce the impact on limited IT budgets.

Neglecting disaster recovery planning. Almost one-third (31%) don't currently have disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place, raising questions on their preparedness to continue delivering care in an emergency situation. And 42 % of respondents don't have a documented data retention policy that specifies how long to keep backup and archival data and when they can destroy it, posing legal and compliance risks for the organization. 

The survey results demonstrate that healthcare leaders, in this era of "big data," should begin to more develop and implement more cost effective storage and archiving strategies. By doing so, many leaders are apt to discover solutions such as those offered by GNAX Health, an Atlanta-based healthcare technology infrastructure and application delivery service provider. Powered by EMC's software and hardware technologies, GNAX Health Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) provides organizations with a practical, cost-effective solution for large storage needs. 

This GNAX Health solution uses cloud infrastructure to back up data to a shared, rather than dedicated, backup infrastructure. Healthcare organizations leverage a flexible, on-demand backup infrastructure without having to purchase, configure, or maintain it themselves, and can reduce storage needs, shifting from a capital intensive local storage to pay-as-you-go operational service. This storage solution requires fewer resources and costs less than maintaining traditional on-site storage.

"Our solution makes it possible for health care leaders to more strategically address data storage and archiving needs. As such, they are able to meet their data storage and archiving needs in a more cost efficient manner, instead of just letting the costs run rampant as the data continues to grow," said George Robbie, vice president and general manager for GNAX Health.