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The Picture Of Health

St. Louis hospital upgrades storage systems to give doctors fast access to medical images
St. Anthony's Medical Center in St. Louis needs a lot more storage. The hospital's radiology unit is deploying a new picture archive and communications system that requires increasing its storage capacity by a factor of six and adding dozens of servers to manage large diagnostic image files. The software from McKesson Corp. and GE Medical Systems is designed to improve efficiency and better comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

St. Anthony's, a private hospital that has served St. Louis since 1900 and now has 794 beds, is replacing its system of storing medical images on film and hand-delivering them to physicians. The new system will provide physicians with access to 250,000 radiology and ultrasound diagnostic images from the nearest computer.

X-RAY PHOTO"We started looking at HIPAA regulations for hospitals of the future, and the security part says you need to have redundancy," says Greg Pinz, St. Anthony's director of information systems. To accommodate the radiology de- partment's need to more quickly access large diagnostic image files such as X-rays, mammographies, and CT scans, Pinz is replacing a 3-terabyte IBM enterprise storage server with two 10-terabyte IBM storage servers configured as part of a storage area network. When fully deployed in late June, the SAN will be connected to an IBM 3494 enterprise tape library for backup and recovery, 15 IBM pSeries Unix servers, and 12 Sun Solaris servers. St. Anthony's will use IBM Tivoli Storage Manager to administer the configuration.

The storage and server upgrades are part of a 2-1/2 year, $13 million project to overhaul St. Anthony's radiology department. The project includes new medical equipment in addition to the storage devices, servers, and imaging software. The hospital needs to deploy both IBM and Sun Unix servers because McKesson's software is written to run on IBM AIX while GE's software runs on Sun Solaris. In addition to photo archiving and retrieval, the IBM SAN will support pharmacy and transcription data, as well as E-mail, document management, financials, and other back-office functions.