Galway hospital invests in electronic health record technology

15 Sep 2009

Galway Clinic, a 126-bed hospital in the West of Ireland, has invested in a new state-of-the-art electronic health record (EHR) system that will support the long-term storage and retrieval of scanned patient documents.

The hospital has contracted BridgeHead Software to support its drive to create a completely electronic health-care record.

The state-of-the-art medical facility, which provides acute and secondary care services, plans to use BridgeHead’s BH FileStore archiving software for the long-term storage and retrieval of scanned patient documents.

The documents are being digitised using dedicated software from health-care information systems provider, Meditech.

“Our data is growing exponentially as we strive to achieve a totally paperless environment,” said Richard Murdock, network administrator at The Galway Clinic.

“And now our data will grow even faster with our current plans to digitise all paper documents relating to patients. So it’s crucial to put in place a cost-effective, long-term data storage and access strategy and BH FileStore’s archiving and retrieval facilities will play an essential role in this.”

Initially, the Galway Clinic will be digitising the five years worth of patient documents that have been accumulated since it was first opened.

The resulting data will be placed in the secure, fully-indexed BH FileStore archive, from where clinicians and hospital administrators will be able to locate specific archived information using content and meta data search facilities.

As newer documents are digitised, they will initially be stored on Galway Clinic’s fibre channel Storage Area Network (SAN). Over time, BH FileStore will automatically identify older documents that are not frequently accessed and reposition them onto lower-cost secondary storage within the archive.

“Our most expensive, high availability, primary storage assets will be reserved for current patient documents. To contain costs, older data will be moved and remain accessible on longer-term storage within BH FileStore,” explained Murdock.

Because BH FileStore can simultaneously maintain multiple copies of an archive in multiple locations, data can be protected without having to devote time and resources to performing frequent backups.

“Our experience of working with hundreds of hospitals leads us to estimate that in many cases digitising relevant paper documents could generate as much as 60 gigabytes of data per bed per year,” said Charles Mallio, vice-president of business development and corporate marketing at BridgeHead Software.

“Even for a relatively small 100-bed hospital, that would mean an additional 6 terabytes of new data every year. It’s no easy task keeping this amount of data stored, protected and accessible, and that’s where archiving systems such as BH FileStore can help,” Mallio said.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Digital patient documents will be on hand at Galway Clinic, with help from BridgeHead Software.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years