America’s leading healthcare institutions share one common trait: they refuse to compromise on the patient experience. For Georgia-based Hamilton Health Care System (“Hamilton”), excellent patient experiences start with well-informed clinicians who have real-time access to the diagnostic tools and data they need to deliver care to each person who comes through its doors.
“We didn’t just want a solution for today. We wanted to make an investment for at least 10 years, and with Pure, we’ve now got both the technology and ongoing support we need to make that happen.” –Darren Fowler, Director of Information Services, Hamilton Health Care System
The organization moved its picture archiving and communication system (PACS) onto Pure Storage® FlashBlade®. Hamilton’s radiologists and surgeons can now pull up any image from the system in just seconds—from X-rays, to mammograms, to historical patient files—helping them deliver high-quality care rapidly to their patients. In parallel, its IT team has established itself as a crucial transformation driver, supporting Hamilton in its quest to become a five-star healthcare institution.
“Our patients see us as part of their community,” says Darren Fowler, director of information services at Hamilton. “We take that responsibility to heart and are committed to delivering five-star care. Today, that means investing in the technologies our clinicians need to excel, and FlashBlade absolutely ticks that box.”
Medical Imaging Gets a Refresh
Hamilton has a reputation as one of Georgia’s best medical institutions. Its Dalton-based flagship, Hamilton Medical Center, is a 255-bed acute-care hospital that offers major medical, surgical, and diagnostic services, complete with an award-winning stroke and chest pain center.
But by last year, its approach to data storage was due for a refresh. Hamilton’s previous system presented challenges and was resource intensive to manage, not to mention its limited value to doctors who require real-time access to digital patient data and imaging.
“Radiologists, surgeons, and other doctors rely on these systems to treat patients. Real-life diagnostics aren’t like an episode of House where the cause of a patient’s symptoms comes to them in a dream. The answer is locked in a patient’s history and data, including imaging, and we need a system that makes this information easy to access and analyze,” says Fowler.
Fowler and his team replaced Hamilton’s previous storage solution with FlashBlade for its unified fast file and object platform. Radiology imaging ordered by a Hamilton doctor is now stored on these systems, which also hold the organization’s historical PACS data. This is only the beginning for Fowler, who plans to add new modality workloads to the mix and begin experimenting with artificial intelligence (AI) to detect anomalies in patient images.
“We’re more scalable than ever with FlashBlade, which is important because we constantly need to accommodate new imaging technologies. For example, we recently took on a new 3D mammography modality which produces images that are 10 to 20 times larger than its predecessor, and Pure handled them without a hitch,” says Fowler.
A Healthier Approach to Storage
Hamilton also has unique needs when it comes to data management and security that made Pure’s flash-based storage the right choice. Many industries are moving their storage to the cloud, but with sensitive data in their care and low latency requirements for their enterprise imaging strategy, organizations like Hamilton require a hybrid solution.
This raises some complications, as few on-premises providers offer the scalability of a cloud vendor. That was a major consideration for Hamilton, especially as its picture archiving and communication system (PACS) is a dynamic workload that continues to grow as its imaging technologies and diagnostic methods become more advanced.
“I was amazed by the scalability of FlashBlade, especially when combined with Pure’s Evergreen Storage subscription model,” says Fowler. “We didn’t just want a solution for today. We wanted to make an investment for at least 10 years, and with Pure, we’ve now got both the technology and ongoing support we need to make that happen.”
On the subject of scalability, Hamilton uses the Pure1® data services platform to track and manage its storage as demands evolve. According to Fowler, the application also improved his team’s relationship with other stakeholders. “I was in a meeting with our CIO, who asked if we had enough storage capacity to handle some new imaging devices. Within seconds, I was able to pull up Pure1 on my phone and confirm that the FlashBlades could handle the additional load,” he says.
Hamilton’s IT team also has gained peace of mind in their data recovery and backup capabilities. “The fact that we can restore our entire data center in under an hour is pretty remarkable,” says Fowler.
Pure SafeMode™ snapshots offer Hamilton additional resiliency when it comes to data security. According to Fowler, their strategy is one of zero-trust at the edge of the network. They pay extremely close attention to security and take advantage of the latest technologies to ensure their approach to data protection is robust.
Teaming Up to Deliver Better Care
For Fowler, one of the high points of this project has been the closer relationship it has fostered between his IT team and Hamilton’s doctors. “Our clinicians have never been more supportive of IT and our contribution to their work. As a result, my team has never been more confident in our ability to meet doctors’ needs and help them to deliver exceptional patient care,” he says.
With Pure, Hamilton has transitioned 80% of its data center to flash-based storage, with more planned. The next step is to give doctors more powerful diagnostic tools, from analytics to data visualizations, that will not only help them treat patients but also help patients better understand their diagnoses.
“Before we implement a new technology, we start by asking ourselves if it is genuinely innovative. With Pure, that was never a question,” concludes Fowler. “We have some of the most advanced tools available, from machine learning technologies to cutting-edge security systems, and FlashBlade ranks right up there as one of my favorite products in the organization.”
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