Around the Storage Block

Highly scalable storage meets healthcare’s growing medical imaging data challenge

Universal access to medical data promises improved use of diagnostic technologies, procedures, and fiscal performance. The basis for results is the efficient gathering and management of data.

Highly scalable storage meets healthcare_Blog_shutterstock_788812627.jpgThe growth of healthcare data

Healthcare is increasingly eyeing the myriad of potential medical and commercial benefits locked within medical data. Universal access to all medical data across a provider promises improved use of diagnostic technologies, procedures, and fiscal performance. But the underlying requirement for enabling such benefits is the efficient gathering and management of all of the provider data. That is why HPE offers storage solutions designed to meet the specific challenges found in healthcare. 

So how big is the medical data storage challenge?  Big, according to IDC[1].

  • Healthcare is projected to deliver the greatest industry specific CAGR of 36% out to 2025 (Global healthcare data is forecasted to reach 2.3 zettabytes* in this coming year alone)
  • Medical imaging data represents approximately 80-90% of that growth

While healthcare is the smallest of the four industry Dataspheres in this study, it is primed to grow faster than the rest given the advancements in healthcare analytics, increasing frequency and resolution of MRIs, and other image and video-related data being captured in today’s advanced modes of medical care. - Data Age 2025 report , sponsored by Seagate. 

Machine learning and AI for medical imaging data analysis

With precision medicine the key goal, machine learning combined with the latest medical imaging technologies promises far more powerful “decision support’ tools. In fact, the FDA has just approved two new AI applications for medical image analysis: UK based Ultromics received 510(k) clearance for use of their EchoGo Core image analysis system that automates cardiac analysis to aid in the early detection of cardiovascular disease. 3DQuorum technology from Hologic (Marlborough, Mass) leverages an AI-powered algorithm with a three-dimensional imaging technique called tomosynthesis (

These types of diagnostic and therapeutic imaging technologies are fueling the explosive growth of precision medical imaging solutions, with the market set to grow from $120 million in 2017 to over $8 billion by 2027 according to a Frost and Sullivan report published in February of 2019.   

Storing the growing volume of medical imaging data

The PACS or VNA solutions receiving and managing the imaging data, typically require a 2-3 tier storage architecture, depending on vendor. Newly generated images are held locally in an ‘image cache’ while under physician review, which could be weeks to month, before being moved to lower cost “cooler” storage which may be a destination, or a precursor to a long term archive (LTA). An exception to this architecture is required for single-tier PACS/VNA solutions such as CHANGE HEALTHCARE which involves a single storage tier capable of delivering both the hot data performance for image retrieval, and the larger, cost-effective volume of longer-term storage. 

Due to the typical workflow of images and retention periods of 8-10 years and often far longer, the pressure is obviously on the destination tier. Factor in the increasing use of imaging disciplines combined with an ever-larger file or study size, and the need for highly scalable, industry compliant storage is clear.  Now, the emerging discipline of digital pathology is set to generate individual file or study sizes in the GB’s. 

Enter HPE software defined scale-out storage solutions focused on the destination tier for medical imaging data.  HPE has a long and storied history of understanding healthcare customers IT challenges and delivering solutions that meet their requirements. 

To address the imaging data storage challenge HPE provides software-defined scale-out storage solutions with Scality, Qumulo, and iTernity, which offer:

  • Extreme Scale: Solution options capable of scaling from TB’s to 100’s of PB’s
  • Geo-distributed data: The ability to store, manage and access vast amounts of data across multiple sites
  • Software based IP: Software storage solutions avoid HW lock-in, freeing customers to leverage the advances of forthcoming storage server platforms alongside existing and previous generations while avoiding the “rip-and-replace” disruption
  • Reduced Risk: HPE software-based storage solutions that reduce the healthcare providers exposure to the potential ordeal of the fork-lift platform upgrade, scale-up and upgrades are delivered through the addition of the latest industry standard storage servers
  • Regulatory compliance: Solutions that meet the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other key regional requirements.

HPE medical imaging data storage solutions to match customers of all sizes

Small-to-Medium: Based on the HPE Apollo 4000 series storage servers (ProLiant optional), the rapidly deployed, appliance-like iTernity ICAS FS serves the small-to-medium, clinic or sports facility. Scaling from 2-128 nodes, iTernity ICAS FS can grow from the low TB’s to 2 PB’s. 

Medium-to-Large/Extreme: The highly scalable, multi-site, cloud ready Apollo-based Scality RING solution takes care of large providers, scaling from just 3 nodes to potentially thousands, and delivering potentially 100’s of PB’s of usable storage. Scality RING is also available via the GreenLake consumption model. 

Scalable Single-tier Storage: For customers running PACS/VNA requiring the single-tier storage architecture (e.g. CHANGE HEALTHCARE), the Qumulo-on-Apollo solution delivers both the performance and capacity, 4-thousands of nodes sable to scale into the 10’s of PB’s. 

Ever greater metrics

With a rising senior population of over 75 million Americans projected to be over the age of 65 by 2030, and the increasing diagnosis of chronic medical conditions, the healthcare challenge is not getting any smaller. The increased use of medical imaging technology means ever greater volumes of medical data that will need to be at the fingertips of physicians, and accessible across all applications. 

HPE medical imaging data storage solutions are designed to help healthcare providers’ storage to keep pace with the growing data volumes generated by existing and new imaging technologies. Removal of the storage and management challenges can only help healthcare providers focus on the most productive use of their data. 

Resources to learn more:

[1]  “Driving Data Growth in Healthcare: Challenges and Opportunities for IT,” IDC

Nicholas White
Hewlett Packard Enterprise


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Nicolas joined HPE in late 2018. He publishes papers and blogs to communicate how HPE storage solutions can meet our customers growing data requirements.