The Russian Federal Scientific-Clinical Center of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Immunology has a new weapon in its battle against conditions that affect millions of children. Sophisticated technology allows it to access, store, and share data quicker and more effectively, helping physicians and researchers combat these illnesses and, hopefully, find cures.
The center is named after Dmitry Rogachev of the Russian Ministry of Health. Igor Pyatnitsa, head of operations for the center's automated systems and information security department, told me through a translator that when it was being built, researchers and medical professionals created a wish list for the infrastructure, software, and hardware.
It's exactly the opinion of the doctors, of the medical professionals, and healthcare researchers which... influenced the decision of the IT system which is working at the clinic. It was designed with the aim that it would meet the requirements of the specialists for a longer term, at least five years.
This long-term plan was critical, because the center expects a fivefold increase in the volume of clinical tests it conducts annually, Pyatnitsa said. The facility runs more than 400 active projects, 100-plus clinical trials, and about 20,000 medical tests annually. By 2015, it is expected to serve 5,000 primary patients and generate more than a petabyte of medical data in the form of 2D and 3D medical images taken at the clinic and other Russian medical facilities.
Anticipating such an influx of data is one thing. Finding technology that will keep up is another.
Leveraging its extensive experience translating healthcare researchers' lingo into relatable technological terms, the center's IT team investigated its options.
The team who was working on translating the healthcare requirements into IT requirements has longtime experience and is very well trained in really understanding what are the challenges in front of the healthcare researchers. It was really easy for them to work with the specialists to translate their requirements. We talked to IBM, and IBM was able to discuss the changes with us and offer solutions that were the closest solutions to the one we were looking for on the market. We were looking at a lot of competitive offerings. We were looking at solutions offered by EMC and HP, but... the solution offered by IBM was the closest one to what we needed based on functionality and price/performance.
IBM (the exclusive sponsor of Internet Evolution) and business partner Computel worked with the center on a two-phase plan. The first phase, which encompassed construction of the datacenter, wrapped up in 2012 and included the installation of System x blade servers and IBM Storage Storwize 8000 solutions for storing and handling data, remote backup, and recovery. In this phase, the center installed the infrastructure it needed to host all data entering the facility from laboratories, clinical tests, and other medical records, and making them available through uninterrupted clusters of servers.
The second phase (under way now) includes implementing IBM PureFlex, designed to create and manage an infrastructure. Also on the agenda is the installation of the IBM PureApplication System, which reduces the cost and complexity of deploying and managing applications, and the PureData System, which consolidates up to 100 databases on one system.
Given the wealth and nature of this data, security is critical -- hackers hit the site with about 1,000 unauthorized access attempts per day, Pyatnitsa said. The center's dedicated security SWAT team integrated additional technologies to circumvent these efforts and meet Russia's privacy safeguards.
Already the center is reaping benefits from the as-yet incomplete solution. When a patient gets a hand X-rayed, the cloud-based system analyzes the image and automatically decides -- based on specialization, availability, and other preset criteria -- which physician should get an alert. This doctor receives the image and other patient information, speeding up treatment and maximizing provider efficiency.
In addition, the center has rolled out a PureFlex-based telemedicine initiative for hematology and other patients, Pyatnitsa said.
This checkup and discussion will not require the patient to travel a long way from a part of the country to Moscow. They will still be consulted based on images and clinical data and how they look. Telemedicine is getting more and more popular in Russia.
Whether patients live in Moscow, rural Russia, or other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the new technology empowers the center to share information quickly to treat individuals -- perhaps, one day, leading to a cure for the diseases that tragically affect so many young people.
— Alison Diana , ThinkerNet Editor, Internet Evolution