Dell, Siemens Collaborate on Cloud Medical Image Storage

As the amount of medical data explodes, Dell and Siemens look to provide the health care industry with extra storage space in the cloud.

Dell and Siemens are coming together to provide a massive amount of cloud storage space for medical images.

The two companies will create the Siemens Image Sharing and Archiving (ISA) service, which will provide a cloud platform for vendor-neutral image archiving and sharing. ISA will incorporate Dell's Unified Clinical Archive. The Dell archive will also provide redundant archiving support for the Siemens Healthcare Cloud Computing Center.

Dell and Siemens will formally announce the agreement at the HIMSS12 health care IT conference in Las Vegas, which begins Feb. 20.

"With Siemens, they'll have a first copy in their data center; the other copy will be in our Dell Unified Clinical Archive," Dr. Jamie Coffin, vice president and general manager for Dell Healthcare and Life Sciences, told eWEEK.

The Unified Clinical Archive stores images from Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) scans, electrocardiograms (EKGs) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests.

Siemens' ISA will allow radiologists to store medical images as well as other types of medical data.

In addition, it could help imaging departments lower the cost of maintaining imaging archives, said Kurt Reiff, vice president of business management for SYNGO Americas at Siemens Healthcare. Siemens makes picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) as well as CT and MR scanners.

ISA will allow radiologists and cardiologists to access and view medical data similar to how consumers log in to a portal like Google for their personal information, Reiff told eWEEK.

While Siemens is confident in its clinical software for radiology and cardiology, it looks to Dell's strength as a cloud computing leader to provide an extra hardware backbone for its ISA cloud platform.

"We want to concentrate on manufacturing, constructing and applying clinical software and not so much on the hardware infrastructure business, where we've traditionally done quite a lot but don't have the highest reputation in the market for hardware," said Reiff.

Community hospitals are particularly looking for the IT infrastructure and storage help, said Reiff.

In December 2010, Dell acquired InSite One, the developer of a medical archiving cloud platform. Dell integrated InSite's InDex Vendor-Neutral Enterprise Archive into its Unified Cloud Computing service.

Dell and Siemens are looking to help health care professionals store the ever-growing volume of medical data.

"One of the biggest challenges in health care right now is we have lots of customers that have petabyte image databases," said Coffin. "Every time they change systems, they have to migrate this data€”it's a hugely expensive proposition for them. We want to be able to get data on a system one time and never have to migrate the data no matter what the system is," said Coffin.

Storage for medical images runs $10,000 a terabyte, he noted.

"We take this all off their plate, the huge cost of maintaining systems," said Coffin. "Images go into the Siemens-Dell archive, and they never have to manage this problem again."

Siemens' Reiff agreed on the need for effective storage of big data, which is a major focus for health care IT in 2012 and beyond.

"The amount of data coming out is going to be exploding," said Reiff. "Lots more molecular imaging data is going to hit the normal device."

A large amount of data in genomics, proteomics and digital pathology will overtake the amount of data in radiology, according to Coffin.

"The radiology problem is a big problem," said Coffin. "If we don't solve the problem now, we're going to have a huge problem going forward."