St. Anthony's selects IBM technology to deliver real-time access to patient medical images

Saint Louis 23 May 2003St. Anthony's Medical Center is installing a new data centre using IBM storage, server and software, allowing physicians to access patient information, including large diagnostic image files, such as X-rays, mammographies and CAT scans, typically in 30 seconds or less. The new system will allow doctors to access high-resolution images quickly from a computer. Previously, medical images from radiology would have to be stored on film, retrieved and hand delivered to doctors.


St. Anthony's, a private hospital with 794 beds, is the third largest hospital in St. Louis and is growing rapidly. In an effort to keep up with their growth, improve the speed of patient diagnosis, and comply with new regulations such as HIPAA, the medical centre selected IBM technology to run a Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS), a library of high-quality radiology and ultrasound diagnostic images.

"The ability of physicians to immediately access medical images and X-rays will result in faster diagnosis, and the potentially life-saving benefits this provides will have a major impact on the health of our patients", stated Greg Pinz, Director of Information Systems at St Anthony's. "The IBM technology gives us the capacity to hold and quickly access the data-intense images in our PACS library, currently 250.000 images and growing."

St. Anthony's will deploy a massive 20-terabyte storage area network (SAN) with IBM's newest TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server, codenamed "Shark", IBM Enterprise Tape Library 3494 for back-up and recovery and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for storage management. In addition, the data centre includes IBM eServer pSeries to help deliver the images over the network. The IBM SAN stores information created through a PACS.

Implementing this kind of advanced digitised radiology solution places St. Anthony's at the forefront of high tech medical treatment facilities. Additionally, the new technology infrastructure will allow St. Anthony's to stay ahead of the technology demands of the latest digital modalities for cardiac and radiology patients.

St. Anthony's chose IBM over competing vendors because of the reliability of their storage systems and their superior disaster recovery technology. Protecting patient data in the result of a disaster and complying with HIPAA was St. Anthony's highest priority. The IBM storage solution will help the hospital by providing a secondary data centre that will "mirror" all the data, so the hospital can be up-and-running quickly, should anything disrupt the primary data centre.

The new HIPAA requirement is creating more demands on hospital's digital storage infrastructure due to the need to implement a highly reliable disaster recovery solution, an audit trail for viewing patient data and the need to store patient information for longer periods. "Leading-edge hospitals like St. Anthony's want to deliver images to doctors and radiologists within seconds and with more reliability to improve patient care", stated Kathy Smith, vice president of Emerging Business Markets, IBM Systems Group. "The IBM infrastructure will provide a solution that will help allow doctors to have on-demand access to patient files."

In addition to mission-critical PACS data, the IBM SAN will support many of the hospitals' systems, including pharmacy and transcription data, as well as office automation applications such as e-mail, document management, financials and pay-roll, and other back office applications. Lowery Systems Inc., an IBM Business Partner, also helped with the planning and installation of the SAN.

IBM draws on its diverse product portfolio to develop integrated solutions that leverage the strength of its storage division together with its breadth of IT products and cutting-edge work in health care, life sciences and other industries. Having invested $200 million over the last two years alone to life sciences development, IBM is the largest player in the field outside of the major pharmaceutical companies.

St. Anthony's Medical Center opened at its present location in 1975. The 794-bed facility, level-two trauma centre, remains South County's only hospital today. It offers a broad continuum of health care services as well as strategic centres of excellence for childbirth, orthopaedics, cancer, cardiology, behavioural health, hospice care and surgery. The Emergency Department logs more than 70.000 visits annually, has 44 treatment rooms and serves 10 ambulance districts. St. Anthony's also operates two separate urgent care facilities in South County.

Leslie Versweyveld

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