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HealthAlliance Hospital Implements IBM Grid Archiving

At the Radiological Society of North America Conference, IBM announced that HealthAlliance Hospital has implemented an IBM Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) to make patient records available to clinicians anytime, anywhere.

HealthAlliance Hospital, a member of UMass Memorial Health Care, serves the communities of north-central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire with acute care facilities, a cancer center, outpatient physical therapy facilities and a remote home health agency. As an investment in continued high-quality patient care, the hospital has implemented a picture archiving and communication system (PACS) from Siemens Medical Solutions so that it can move toward digital health records while eliminating traditional paper and film.

HealthAlliance is now able to make all of its data, including PACS images, available instantly, using the IBM GMAS, a cross-IBM offering comprised of storage, software, servers and services. The GMAS solution provides hospitals, clinics, research institutions and pharmaceutical companies with an automated and resilient enterprise storage archive for delivering medical images, patient records and other critical health care reference information on demand.

"Fast, easy access to diagnostic images is a priority," said Rick Mohnk, vice president and chief information officer of HealthAlliance. "Being paperless not only helps our staff improve their productivity and the quality of patient care, but also lowers our costs and improves our competitiveness. The IBM GMAS has helped us stay competitive and offer the leading edge technology that attracts top physicians to our staff and keeps patients feeling comfortable and well cared for."

Not only is the volume of medical images growing, but image sizes are ballooning as well. The introduction the newest CT scans are expected to increase file sizes by a factor of five -- from 50MB to approximately 300MB. Digital mammography scans can be as much as 500MB each. HealthAlliance has recently installed several new systems to its existing infrastructure, including new CT, PET, MRI and digital mammography systems, and expects that it will be dealing with burgeoning numbers of high-resolution medical images.

With its previous systems, HealthAlliance routinely ran into slow retrieval processes and limits on how much it could store -- only the most recent 18 months of studies could be stored digitally, while older studies would remain in film and paper form. With their IBM solution, all studies, regardless of age, are archived and accessed quickly, allowing for more rapid diagnosis and improved patient care, as well as more accurate comparisons of current and historical data.

HealthAlliance chose the IBM GMAS because it needed a cost-effective archiving system with the flexibility and scalability to grow along with their organization. In addition, given the critical nature of the files, the GMAS is able to provide a solution that is highly reliable, always available, and based on open standards, so that the archive can interface with other systems that the hospital might add in the future.

"Our GMAS solution enables clients of all sizes, from community hospitals to large integrated delivery networks and research institutions, to start out small and easily expand their archive over time," said Hernan Vega, vice president of health care and life sciences in IBM's System and Technology Group. "IBM views flexibility and ease of use as critical requirements, especially in the small and medium health care market."

All HealthAlliance PACS images are archived on the IBM GMAS and accessible in numerous ways. For example, all clinicians can access GMAS through hospital record system, which provides complete access to the patient record including medical images, lab results, radiology reports, and pharmacy records. Medical workers at any location can also access the grid using their Web browsers.

The GMAS configuration that HealthAlliance installed includes an IBM System Storage DS4000 disk system, IBM System x servers, and IBM Grid Access Manager software. This configuration is duplicated at a separate building on the hospital campus for disaster recovery purposes. A wide-area network connects the two systems, allowing the GMAS archive to continue to function in the case of any planned or unplanned downtime.

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