Radiology has a storage problem, to put it lightly: Even as the data associated with a single cross-sectional imaging study increase dramatically, HIPAA requirements to ensure patient privacy remain as stringent as ever. At last year’s RSNA meeting, a new solution appeared on the horizon in the form of cloud storage—a concept that has gained traction in other industries, but has been slower to penetrate the health-care space. ImagingBiz spoke with Lori Wright, vice president and general manager of Symantec Health, Mountain View, California, a company more closely associated with data security than with health care, on why the time is right for radiology to take to the clouds.
ImagingBiz: How and when did Symantec enter the health-care market? What drew the company to radiology specifically?
Wright: About four years ago, Symantec started a new vertical movement to take our existing products, which do things like secure the enterprise and manage information, and bring them to health care, where those needs really resonate. At that time, we found we had a bigger opportunity to build products specifically for health care. It’s a unique industry—the language is different; the requirements are different.
We looked at the big pain points in health care that we have the skills to address—as the number-one security vendor in the world, the number-one software-as-a-service (SAAS) infrastructure vendor in the world, and the number-one storage-management vendor in the world—and we arrived at a belief that we are better positioned than anyone to solve the medical-image storing and sharing dilemma.
Our interest in radiology arose from the needs centered around PACS and storage. It’s a growing problem—imaging studies are increasing in size, and according to some, will eventually represent 40% of the world’s data. Given the retention requirements around these data, hospitals and imaging centers can’t keep storing the data themselves, and they can’t pay small outsourcers who don’t have the scale or security expertise required to safeguard this information.
Symantec has the expertise and technology to address two of the main challenges faced by practice administrators and radiologists in imaging centers: to grow the referral network by providing a way to exchange medical images securely with referring physicians over the Internet, and to drive down the costs of medical-image archiving.
ImagingBiz: Cloud is a relatively new buzzword for radiology. How have cloud-based solutions evolved to meet the needs of health care?
Wright: Cloud-based solutions have long been used in the traditional IT world; however, the adoption rate of cloud-based services in the health-care industry has been slowed down by several factors. The first is security: While it is very easy for any small company to build a cloud-based solution, it is much harder to make it secure. Health-care providers are very concerned about loss or breach of sensitive patient data stored and shared in the cloud when the company managing these data lacks the right expertise and technology to protect them.
There’s also the apprehension around yet another new technology. Too many solutions offered today have negative impacts on daily operations because they are too complicated or require additional staff to manage them. We understand that the goal of technology is to streamline operations and integrate into a facility’s existing workflow, so we designed a solution that is quick and easy to implement and is so intuitive it doesn’t require any training.
ImagingBiz: What does a security giant like Symantec bring to imaging?
Wright: What’s exciting is that there is this movement toward being able to do things in the cloud; it’s something a lot of other industries have been doing for some time. The limitation for health care has been that this is really sensitive information. You don’t want just any vendor handling it, but it’s incredibly safe to do it with someone who knows what they’re doing. That’s what Symantec really brings.
We store and manage over 50 petabytes of information for consumers, small business, and large enterprises; for reference, 50 petabytes is the equivalent of the entire written works of mankind, from the beginning of recorded history, in all languages. By using our core strengths in security and storage management, and by leveraging our large SAAS infrastructure, we are able to reduce the cost of storage and provide a secure way to share medical