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1/27/2010
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Symantec To Offer Hosted Medical Image Archiving

The security vendor's hosted storage archiving service will provide hospitals with disaster recovery capabilities for medical images.

Security and storage product vendor Symantec will soon enter a new niche area -- archived medical image storage hosting.

The Symantec Health Safe offering will provide hospitals with secure, remote, hosted archived storage for medical images, such as those from picture archiving and communication systems, or PACS.

Symantec has two "geographically distant" data centers that will host the archiving, and procide "free" disaster recovery and business continuity , said Gary Sevounts, senior director of product management and business development for Symantec's electronic health group.

"When you talk to healthcare IT executives, disaster recovery is always delayed" because of other pressing technology expenditures that come up, said Sevounts.

While hospitals often have backup data centers, those facilities are often in the same geographic region, which makes data and images vulnerable to events that may affect a region, he said.

"It doesn't cost any more" for the disaster recovery and business continuity perks that Symantec will offer as part of the hosted medical image archiving, he said.

Pricing for Health Safe varies based on a hospital's storage needs. However, the hosted services eliminate hospitals' needs to maintain their own storage staff, storage mangement software, and energy costs, he said.

Symantec estimates that those costs add anywhere from 35% to 200% above the cost of a typical hospital's medical image storage hardware annually.

Over a five year period, Symantec's hosted medical imaging archive storage can save some hospitals more than half those costs, he said. That's based on "conservative estimates" where staff, software and energy costs are only 35% above the cost of actual hardware storage products used at a hospital annually.

Symantec's security product expertise and best practices are also being applied to Health Safe to ensure a secure environment for medical image archiving, he said.

The company is working with several large PACS vendors to "validate" that Health Safe services work with those other companies' imaging systems without impacting PACs performance.

"We're using DICOM [standard for sharing images] and the system is designed to hook into PACS environments seamlessly without impacting workflow," he said.

Several hospitals have begun piloting the Heath Safe services, which Symantec plans to formally unveil in coming weeks, he said.

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