By Kelly Baig

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting one of our BridgeHead customers, a community hospital serving more than 7,000 inpatients and 50,000 emergency room patients annually, located outside of Boston. My reason for visiting was to sit down with their PACS administrator and talk about their archive solution.

The administrator has been working with BridgeHead archive software to protect his Fuji PACS DICOM images, in an archive for a few years now. Previously, he had used a popular Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) tool. However, the file drawers of DVD images which resulted kept him up at night, since he knew that they were not indexed – and recovering images from these DVDs would take a long while. That method would take too long for clinicians including surgeons who use the images to support patient treatment.

As a secondary benefit of working with BridgeHead, the administrator has been able to optimize the use of his primary storage supporting PACS. During deployment, performance testing to ensure that the workflow of the PACS application remained unchanged was critical. Also, the retrieval time for protected images needed to adhere to strict standards. The clinicians cannot tolerate any slow-downs nor disruptions, for a host of important reasons.

The BridgeHead deployment along with the PACS system fits into a relatively efficient space in the hospital’s data center. It was interesting to me, to see how hospitals retrofit office spaces into data center facilities; no raised floors in these spaces! However, the sophisticated use of storage along with integrated backup and archive for protecting PACS applications and DICOM images marks this hospital as being among the best managed in healthcare.

This past spring, the administrator working with BridgeHead recommended to the IT team, that they expand their data management – building on their current PACS archive to add DICOM-aware capabilities. Let me explain more about what I mean; BridgeHead’s solution for PACS is a unique integration of backup and archive, which includes:

  • File-layer archive, for assured protection and recovery of DICOM images – such as what this administrator has had in place for several years at the hospital; this is primarily used to retrieve individual files from the protected location if a primary disk failure occurs. This is also useful for Disaster Recovery purposes, if the primary data center is damaged or unavailable for some reason. With traditional VNA approaches, this benefit is not included.
  • DICOM-layer archive, to enable shared access among brands of PACS systems as well as among hospital departments, to the central image repository. This is primarily useful for two use-cases, which are PACS application migration and sharing of DICOM images within a hospital system.
  • Backup of the PACS application server, for rapid recovery as required when the server fails. With traditional VNA approaches, this benefit is not included.

One of the benefits of BridgeHead’s unique approach to VNA, is something which this hospital has experienced first-hand: our layered approach enabled them to step into VNA – one layer at a time. This proved less disruptive to the hospital, and more comfortable for the IT team who could adopt new capabilities at their own pace.

Here’s what the administrator had to say about BridgeHead’s solution last year:

Management of PACS images is an extension of patient care. When images are needed by clinicians, it is absolutely critical that those images be available.

We depend on BridgeHead’s protection of our Fujifilm PACS images to ensure this availability. Before choosing the BridgeHead platform, I was left uncertain if I could recover our images when needed. Now, I’m positive that I can and meet what my clinicians require in terms of image accessibility and improved workflow.”