Cancer Center Adopts Leading-Edge Data-Archiving Technology

Nonprofit facility plans to transform its medical record-keeping system to electronic records this spring.
Mike Luter appreciates this holiday week, even though he's working. That's because he's a chief technology officer at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center, which sees about 450 outpatients a day the rest of the year. Today, he says, it's a little quiet.

Other weeks, patients visit the research center in San Antonio for services such as laser treatment related to oncology. Every patient generates multiple images during each visit. "Our doctors are always tracking the size of tumors," Luter says. And the patients come back, typically as often as every six or eight weeks.

"A patient could generate between 125 and 500 Mbytes of data, and we have about 15 terabytes of the data online," Luter says. That and the need to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act has Luter overseeing the installation of a second tier of storage, with privacy and long-term storage in mind.

The center already uses EMC Corp.'s online storage area network technology, and it considered EMC's Centera system for its planned archiving system. "But as a nonprofit organization, we must preserve our spending," Luter says. He found out about Archivas Inc.'s Archivas Cluster (ArC) system from a combination of intelligence from a market research firm and word-of-mouth advice from other Archivas prospects. Archivas won out because ArC cost about 40% less than EMC, Luter says, and performed better and was more flexible then Centera. The startup is also providing extensive support for ArC's alpha and beta system testing, he says.

Once the center's primary medical system vendors, including GE Medical Systems and Philips Medical Systems, integrate their technology with the new archiving technology, the system should be up and running, Luter thinks in April.

In the spring, the center hopes to change its entire record-keeping system from paper and film to electronic medical records. "With ArC, nobody will be able to change a record," Luter says, "and we'll on the fly be able to print a record out as needed."