EMC Helps Canadian Health Giant Tame Medical Imaging Beast, Build Cloud-Based Business Model

Over the past several years, medical imaging has advanced dramatically as technological innovation has enabled super-fine resolutions for X-rays, CAT scans and other diagnostic tests. This medical revolution, however, comes with a price: namely massive data growth.  According to ESG, the amount of imaging data in the world today has grown from 0.8 exabytes to 3.9 exabytes in just four years.

William Osler Health System, one of Canada’s largest community hospital networks, is one of many healthcare providers worldwide focused on tackling this issue.  Donavan Miller, Infrastructure Team Lead, Infrastructure for William Osler Health System recently told us that Osler experienced a 900% increase in medical imaging data in just 5 years. Increasing use of unified voice, text and email communications by Osler staffers also contributed to driving 20-25% annual growth of Osler’s storage environment. With such data growth, storage systems were running out of space and tape backups were slowing down. Most troubling was the increasing risk of data loss — a totally unacceptable scenario for patient care, says Miller.

Osler tackled its data challenges head on with a brand-new infrastructure running on EMC VNX and Isilon storage systems, and Data Domain and NetWorker backup solutions. All of Osler’s critical applications reside on EMC technology, including Siemens PACS on Isilon and MEDITECH electronic health records, Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server and numerous others on VNX. Today, nine hospitals tap into Osler’s virtualized data center to share access to SAP, ticketing, websites and more.

Here’s Donovan talking about Osler’s story:

Osler’s IT team is also extracting more value from their virtualized EMC infrastructure by offering IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) to external clients such as Shared Services West (SSW), a government-owned agency that hosts SAP applications on Osler and two other Toronto-area healthcare networks.

Donavan reflected, “We have more agility, performance headroom and space in our data center to offer IT services to hospitals that lack the resources to build their own infrastructures. There are great economies of scale when multiple hospitals share access to a high-end infrastructure built on EMC and virtualization technologies. We recoup some of our upfront costs and outside hospitals save money.”

Osler’s outsourcing model has been so successful that they’re providing other hospitals access to their ITIL ticketing system and mental health websites. And soon, Osler will expand their business and roll out Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service, which Donavan expects will attract even more hospitals to their ITaaS offerings.

He went on to say, “In Canada’s public health systems, pooling resources is a great way to cut out unnecessary costs. With one point of access to EMC’s suite of solutions, we can deliver the latest technologies efficiently to a much wider community of hospitals. Ultimately, this means better patients care across the region.”

What started as a way to manage massive data growth turned into new business opportunities for Osler and additional value-added services for their customers.

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About the Author: Jen Sorenson