Healthcare providers face a bright future. Today, there are more solutions than ever to deliver better, faster, and more cost-effective patient services. Thanks to developments in hospital information systems (HIS), providers can deliver the right patient data to the right clinicians at the right time. Additionally, evolutions in flash-based storage are ensuring providers can boost the performance of their HIS environments while staying well within their IT budgets.
A key example of this is Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok. As a leading private healthcare provider in Thailand, it operates a network of facilities from cosmetic to tertiary care, and employs 3,000 healthcare professionals across its two major hospitals: Samitivej Sukhumvit and Samitivej Srinakarin.
Both hospitals have successfully used HIS technology for more than 10 years to help deliver better, more effective patient care. Nevertheless, the MedTrak HIS system in place had been superseded by a more advanced system, TrakCare, and the hospital recognized it was time to upgrade its technology.
Problem with existing environment
The Windows XP-based platform underpinning MedTrak was coming to the end of its lifecycle, and the hospital had to think about the future.
Chief Information Officer at Samitivej Hospital, Dr. Panuratn Thanyasiri, explains, “Our operations are expanding by five percent a year, making our HIS environment more important than ever. The existing HIS system was already showing signs of strain. We would experience downtime of 10 to 15 minutes very frequently, so we needed to move from Windows XP as soon as possible as we upgraded the software.”
The transition to TrakCare would radically change things. The environment, which runs on Windows 7, would future proof the hospital’s HIS for years to come. What’s more, it offered improved functionality for greater patient services and support for tablet devices, which Samitivej Hospital plans to introduce in the coming years.
Still, an upgrade required a fundamental rethink of the IT platform underpinning the solution to deliver the required IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second).
Dr. Thanyasiri says, “To get the most out of our HIS investment, only flash-optimized storage would do.”
The search for the right HIS platform
Samitivej launched a public tender process for the HIS environment’s entire IT platform. It invited bids from leading providers for servers and storage. Dell emerged as the winner of the contract.
Dell was in a strong position from the start since Dell servers and storage had successfully supported the old HIS environment. In addition, the hospital had already chosen Dell Wyse P25 zero clients to provide the front end to the TrakCare system across Samitivej Sukhumvit and Samitivej Srinakarin.
“To ensure successful implementation and integration of the deployment, the Samitivej IT team worked with Dell to finalize the platform design and complete the set-up within a month. The solution was fully functional three days later,” says Mak Chin Wah, Enterprise Solutions director for South Asia, Dell.
The finished design featured two Dell Compellent SC8000 Storage Center flash-optimized arrays – one at each hospital – to support the HIS’s main database. Alongside both storage arrays, the hospital installed Dell PowerEdge R720 and R620 servers with Intel Xeon processors to run the environment’s non-virtualized key applications.
Additionally, Dell EqualLogic PS6100E and PS6100XV storage, and Dell PowerVault MD3660f storage were installed to support the system’s VMware-based virtual applications and the PACS.
According to Dr. Thanyasiri, the cost effectiveness of the Dell Compellent storage set the solution apart. He says that as with any organization, there’s competition among departments for resources, and he appreciates that other teams within the hospital are seeking funds to meet their own programs.
“I believe Dell Compellent flash-optimized storage was 30 percent more cost-effective than the equivalent solution from Dell’s competitors,” he says. “We had the resources available to purchase more costly storage from competing vendors, but it was clear that the Dell Compellent storage made greater business sense. It meant there would be resources available for other departments to use, and this was crucial.”
Today, Samitivej Hospital is delivering improved patient care, building on the success of its previous HIS environment.
With its flash-optimized storage, the hospital gets the maximum value out of its investment. Patient and hospital data is being written to the TrakCare main database and then read to “shadow” databases in real time and accessed by a series of clinical, administrative and department modules. It means clinicians can obtain a consolidated view of up-to-the-minute patient data to make better decisions more rapidly.
In addition, executives can access reports, graphs and dashboards, which provide combined key performance indicators on clinical and administrative operations.
The storage solution is also delivering high amounts of IOPS within a small footprint – cutting power and cooling significantly.
“In the past, Samitivej Hospital could only achieve something like 4,000 IOPS with more than 100 disks,” says Mak Chin Wah, Enterprise Solutions director for South Asia, Dell.
Chin Wah explained that Dell’s SC8000Full Flash Array combines the speed of flash solid state drives (SSD) with the capacity of hard disk drives (HDD), enabling faster access to hot data, while keeping cold data that is not critically needed on high-capacity HDDs.
“This flash-optimized solution from Dell is the first of its kind, offering customers the opportunity to leverage the performance and reliability of single-level cell SSDs, while enjoying the capacity of lower-cost multi-level cell SSDs.
With the flash-optimized Dell Storage solution, Samitivej was able to reach up to 100,000 IOPS with sub-millisecond latency on the database and far fewer disks.”
As for reliability, replication processes are near completion between the Compellent storage at the primary data center in Samitivej Sukhumvit and the secondary data center at Samitivej Srinakarin, located 20 kilometers away. The sites are connected by a main 200 megabit (Mb) link and a 100Mb DR link.
Dr. Thanyasiri says, “Replication between the two sites will be automatic, almost in real time. The lag between data being written to the DR database will be just two minutes, so in the event of an outage, we can keep our patient systems up and running. This is something we couldn’t have achieved previously.”