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Symantec Survey Shows Healthcare Organizations Considering Managed Disaster Recovery Solutions

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Symantec Survey Shows Healthcare Organizations Considering Managed Disaster Recovery Solutions

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March 31, 2011
By Laura Stotler
TMCnet Contributing Editor

A survey sponsored by Symantec and conducted by Dimensional Research at the Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society Event shows that disaster recovery is a cause for concern for 55 percent of respondents. For healthcare organizations, disaster recovery planning is even more problematic with compliance concerns like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) at the forefront. A majority of the 568 healthcare IT respondents (56 percent) said that they are considering using hosted solutions to manage their data and applications.


Medical imaging is a relatively large area of concern, and increased availability and quality of images is helping healthcare providers to diagnose and resolve patient problems quickly. This places a burden on IT departments to retain those images, which have enormous file sizes, in a reliable, secure, accessible and scalable place.

Nine percent of survey respondents are currently using cloud-based solutions for archiving medical images while 58 percent are using or have plans to use a cloud vendor for storage of their medical images. HIPAA plays a huge role here, with 69 percent of participants reporting that they are not following HIPAA recommendations for storing their medical images, and 41 percent stating that they are very concerned about staying compliant with HIPAA.

The survey shows that while 82 percent of participants keep two or more copies of medical images in their archives, they are still extremely concerned about disaster recovery. Of those who do not plan to use a cloud-based archiving solution, security was the main concern in their choice, followed by performance.

According to Symantec (News - Alert), to meet the HIPAA mandate as well as provide a form of risk management insurance, medical image storage should include a backup of electronic protected health information (ePHI) in a second, secure data center operated by a healthcare entity. This center should be at a site more than 100 miles from the primary site, preferably. Organizations may also rent space and functionality at a tier-3 or tier-4 data center located more than 100 miles from the healthcare facility.

They may also store ePHI in multiple data centers owned by the healthcare organization which utilize grid-storage technology.

A final option would be to outsource the management and storage of ePHI to a storage service provider for disaster recovery and possibly for long-term storage as well.

A majority of the respondents do not follow these recommendations, with only 31 percent reporting that their medical images are stored in data centers more than 100 miles apart. While 36 percent of those responding said they do store their images in multiple locations, those locations are less than the recommended 100 miles apart.

Hospitals were less likely to follow HIPAA recommendations than freestanding imaging centers and radiology organizations, with only 20 percent of hospitals storing their archives in multiple locations more than 100 miles apart. Freestanding imaging centers and radiology practices reported 36 percent compliance for storage.

Tape and CDs were the top means of storage for participants at 42 percent, with film coming in at nine percent, and 16 percent using older forms of storage because they have not yet invested in hard disk drives. The survey found no clear leader among in-house hard disk drive solutions used for medical image archiving.




Edited by Janice McDuffee

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