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Service Providers Target Healthcare

It's an embarrassment of backup riches in the healthcare sector, but for customers themselves, the choice of service over in-house expertise isn't always easy.

Hospitals are among the world's largest data gathering institutions, so it's no surprise to see two service announcements in one day: Iron Mountain and IPR International LLC have unveiled services specifically aimed at helping hospitals cope with increased data backup demands. (See NJHA, IPR Partner and The Optical Side of Storage.)

Iron Mountain's service scans and digitizes X-rays for hospitals, which can be later copied to disk or tape and stored off-site by Iron Mountain. Separately, Iron Mountain offers online backup to disk for healthcare customers and others through a resale arrangement with LiveVault. IPR International has created an online backup service based on EVault software specifically aimed at hospitals. The new offering grew out of a deal IPR has with the New Jersey Hospital Association.

Several forces have converged to make healthcare a hot market for backup-and-recovery services. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) now mandates how hospitals gather and store data. At the same time, it's gotten cheaper and easier than ever for service providers to put together backup and recovery offerings, thanks to lower equipment costs and better products.

Despite all this, users don't see such services as an obvious choice. There are several issues: Services require a hospital to relinquish control to an outsider -- not easy for any large business. Services don't necessarily make backup more efficient or recovery faster. And services aren't really cheaper.

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