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Enterprise Imaging: It’s Not Just about PACS

The increasing complexity of enterprise imaging platforms is creating challenges for healthcare organizations to keep up with the demands placed on infrastructure. Efficiently handling the massive flood of data created by enterprise imaging solutions is critical for clinical and business success.

So what exactly is enterprise imaging? What challenges has it created for healthcare organizations? And why is fast and scalable storage infrastructure critical for overcoming these challenges? In this article, we'll answer these questions and more as we dive into the world of data storage for enterprise imaging. 

What Is Enterprise Imaging?  

Enterprise imaging refers to a set of workflows, initiatives, and strategies that are implemented throughout healthcare enterprises. Enterprise imaging makes it easier to capture, manage, store, and distribute imaging data from various sources to accelerate clinical decision-making and improve patient care. 

Charting the Evolution of Enterprise Imaging

The story of enterprise imaging begins with the creation of the picture archiving and communication system (PACS) in 1979. PACS was a major breakthrough in the medical industry because it allowed healthcare professionals to digitally store and transfer images like X-rays and other diagnostic images. PACS eliminated the need to manually transport images. 

While innovative, PACS rarely integrated with existing systems. As a result, several PACS could exist within a healthcare enterprise since the sharing of images between PACS was limited. The emergence of the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standard propelled PACS into a new era of digital image sharing.  

DICOM is a set of international standards for the storage, exchange, and communication of digital medical images and other health data. Standardized file formats, transfer protocols, and imaging workflows supercharged collaboration across departments and organizations in the medical community. It also fueled much of the innovation in enterprise imaging for the next decade.

Vendor-neutral archives (VNAs) and cloud-based data archives later entered the scene. These enabled IT staff in healthcare organizations to manage data instead of radiologists or other individual departments. 

VNAs also help address interoperability issues, which is the ability for health information systems to communicate with each other. However, interoperability continues to be an issue that plagues many hospitals and obstructs their ability to deliver healthcare efficiently and effectively. 

The current state of enterprise imaging is now a mixture of PACS, VNAs, and cloud-based data archives. 

Big Data Creates Big Challenges for Enterprise Imaging Infrastructure

Despite minor improvements in enterprise imaging over the years, it's still a challenge for many healthcare professionals to properly access, display, and share large files. This problem will get worse as files continue to get bigger. 

As the field of digital pathology continues to grow and produce increasingly larger data sets, healthcare organizations are going to have to find more efficient ways to store, visualize, and interact with their data to put it to good use.

These are among the many pressures facing healthcare organizations. On-premises hard-drive technology can no longer meet the ever-growing demands of big data. It's time enterprise imaging storage solutions got an upgrade.

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The Solution for Overwhelming Amounts of Data? Flash Storage

Switching from spinning disks to flash drives delivers a massive boost in performance, parallelism, and speed. With extremely low latency connections, all-flash storage arrays improve data mobility across storage environments—a critical detail for enterprise imaging informatics applications.

When high-resolution images load faster, researchers, radiologists, and other medical professionals can extract the actionable insights they need to deliver value-based care faster.

What Enterprise Imaging Can Do for You Now 

Enterprise imaging has evolved rapidly. Today’s much faster imaging study turnaround results in better patient care and more quickly gets information into the hands of clinical decision makers. AI is also enhancing enterprise imaging by automating the reading of images and flagging anomalies for radiologist review. 

But faster enterprise imaging systems require higher-performance storage. Having a reliable storage architecture is critical for helping your organization meet data retention guidelines, recover critical data in the event of an outage, and enhance workflows. On top of providing reliable performance, storage for an enterprise imaging solution should offer agility, flexibility, and regular updates without compromising availability. 

Pure Storage® delivers these benefits and more for healthcare organizations. Our all-flash enterprise imaging storage solution is capable of handling tens of thousands of concurrent requests, a necessity as digital medical data grows from terabyte scale to petabyte scale. 

Our enterprise imaging storage solution also makes 3D rendering possible on any device with a level of performance that's unprecedented in the industry. Physicians and patients alike can access images on demand, which helps create a more personal healthcare experience.

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