Driven by the need to store massive digital files and follow new compliance regulations for patient records, healthcare is becoming a booming market for networked storage.
SAN vendors EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) recently announced major contract wins, and smaller vendors with products that specialize in digital content see this vertical market as one similar to the movie industry.
"It's one of the fastest-growing segments of IT," says EMC's John Mello. "There are two major applications: PACS and electronic patient records." PACSs (picture archiving and communications systems) store cardiology and radiology tests, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results, and other large files.
Healthcare storage needs have also expanded due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a federal regulation that requires records to be kept longer. "They're taking all that off film and making it digital," Mello says. "Those pictures take up a lot of storage."
Still, Mello says healthcare is a late adopter of technology, claiming that only about 5 percent of healthcare firms have sophisticated electronic storage systems. He says that most large hospitals already have them, while smaller and midsized facilities plan to implement them soon.