What if they didn’t have my medical images?

Posted by Purview on Feb 12, 2015 1:55:00 PM

What if your practice lost all its patient's medical images?


 

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I went in for my annual breast exam yesterday.  Being over fifty with somewhat dense tissue, I am diligent about doing this annual pilgrimage.  As my doctor had told me years earlier, what’s most important is the year-to-year changes in my image.  So when they take this year’s image and compare it against last, that’s when I’ll get the most useful information.  They have last year’s scan in their archive, along with several prior years from which to compare… but what if they didn’t?

Most chronic conditions that are found in the myriad of medical images are best analyzed against historic or prior images taken of the same body region. Being able to see the changes enhances the value of the analysis.  So having that historical image data immediately available is of the utmost importance… but what if they didn’t? 

With today’s digitization of virtually every medical image, the storage and archive of this data is commonplace.  Unseen to every patient is a medical practice’s meticulous, redundant backup of this important data. This protects your information so that in the unlikely event of a catastrophe or perhaps just human error, there is another copy of this data available… but what if they didn’t?

A specialized women’s breast imaging center assumed they had their image backup procedures in place.  They had a RAID system after all.  Wouldn’t that be protection enough? Despite our annual inquiries, they told us they had it  covered.  It turns out it wasn’t.

Apparently the practice’s perceived budgetary constraints caused them to neglect good process.  In the mean time their IT consultant left.  He forgot to set the disk failure notification to someone else. Now they are spending tens of thousands of dollars scurrying to forensically retrieve whatever data they can from their faulty primary RAID (and in this case only) archive.  And what if they can’t? Is the fate of the entire imaging practice at risk?  We fear that there are others of you susceptible to this same fate.  Assuming this is not your problem is not an acceptable scenario.  So take action today to avoid this disastrous fate.

  1. Do not assume you have sufficient backup and disaster proof storage.  Unless you have proven to yourself that you have your data backed up and available, assume this is not sufficient
  2. A RAID system as the primary archive, although seemingly with redundant fail-over mirrored storage, is still a single point of failure, and alone is not sufficient.
  3. Storing your data, with your backup on-site is not sufficient.
  4. Relying on human beings to follow a process to back up files, archive tapes or disks, or copy files is not sufficient.
  5. Having a “fool proof” backup process and not randomly testing it or doing a fire drill is not sufficient.

The best practice for archived disaster-proof storage is something that automatically copies your images from your primary system to an off-site backup system that in turn stores multiple copies of this data in geographically dispersed locations. Avoiding reliance on humans to remember to systematically backup your data is key.

At Purview, we maintain our ViVATM cloud storage for exactly this purpose.  We connect to your modalities directly or to your on-site primary storage. Your images are automatically routed to our storage arrays either in real time, if your Internet connection bandwidth is sufficient, or in batches after hours if it is not.  We then daily mirror this storage onto a second site separated 250 miles to avoid natural or man-made disasters that might impact power grids or communication pipelines, to ensure this data is always available. 

We think anything less is just too risky.  And what if we didn’t?

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