5 Areas Healthcare Providers Can Improve with Flash Storage

Oct 25, 2016

Organizations of all sizes are benefiting from access to massive amounts of data. Customer service is better able to respond to and anticipate customer challenges. Marketing can promote products to the right people at the right time. Operations can reduce inefficiencies and better support the business.

The healthcare industry is a perfect example of how data is changing processes for the better. Patient care can be improved by diagnostics enabled by improved data access. Clinical research can tap into social media data to gain a deeper understanding of patients and variables beyond their control. In emergency situations, real-time access to data can literally mean the difference between life and death.

The Speed of Data

As healthcare organizations amass larger amounts of data, they face challenges in accessing the right data when they need it. Even more difficult, that data must be analyzed to make sense of it. Some of these obstacles can be eliminated or reduced through faster access to data.

This is where flash storage comes in. In this article, we look at several areas within healthcare to see how each can benefit from faster access to data.

Improved Patient-side Care

Patient-side care is a category where faster access to data can provide very noticeable improvements.

1. User Experience

Physicians would like to be able to provide their patients with more information about their conditions. Doctors need to log into their electronic healthcare (EHR) systems to access information. Installing flash systems can provide doctors with instant-access to those records. It is the same speed improvement that laptop users see when they switch from a spinning hard disk to a solid state drive (SSD). Flash enables instant access to data.

2. Real-time Analysis

Doctors run analysis on the patient data they are given. They look up symptoms to determine the patient’s condition. With that diagnosis, they search for the best remedy. If the condition requires a prescription, they crosscheck clinical trials and medication that the patient is currently on to provide the ideal treatment option.

If that analysis takes an hour to perform, patients might need to make another appointment or wait for a phone call to receive treatment information. Installing flash storage can enable the analysis to be run in real time so the patient can begin treatment immediately.

Faster, More Complete Research

Clinical trials and medical research are another category that relies heavily on massive data sets and complex analytics on that data.

3. Better Results through Deeper Data

A challenge faced by clinical researchers is the time it takes to analyze their data and receive results. Researchers would like to add more depth to their research with social data, geospatial information, and other clinical research results.

With that much data available to the researcher, the challenge is the time and resources required to analyze it. The speed improvements from flash storage are a game-changer. As mentioned in a previous article, Coca-Cola was able to reduce their report processing from hours to minutes. In a clinical environment, the time required could be reduced from months to hours.

Operational and Financial Benefits

The benefits of flash storage can be felt in areas that are not unique to healthcare.

4. Simplified System Administration and Management

Storage Managers have their building blocks to create their data storage system. They add security, disaster recovery, replication, and file backup. On top of that, they add disks. It takes many disks to get the minimum performance that the business requires—adding to the overall cost of the system.

Swapping out the disks for flash drives reduces the amount of systems that need to be managed. Also, some of functions that relied on the processor can be built into the flash system. In-line encryption is possible because of the performance of flash to improve security. Replication happens through instant snapshots.

5. Reduced Costs

Prices for storage solutions keep dropping, but it is still much more expensive than 10-15K enterprise-class, spinning disks. This is ok, because flash storage changes the economics of storage. If an organization has 20TB of data on legacy storage, they may only need 4TB of flash storage. IBM actually guarantees an 80% reduction in storage space requirements.

IBM is able to make that guarantee because of the performance of flash. They are able to incorporate real-time data compression without performance degradation. This means fewer storage systems and a reduction of expensive data center space. Flash operates on a fraction of the energy required for spinning disks. The cost savings are real and quantifiable.

Flash is the Perfect Choice for Healthcare

Flash storage has become the right choice for not just healthcare, but also for many data-intensive industries.