Healthcare research has a tremendous impact on society. In 2018 alone, new breakthroughs included the development of an artificial pancreas to treat diabetes and harnessing the body’s own immune system to treat cancer. Yet this process doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Clinical data drives it. And, it’s growing at such rapid rate that storing, managing and securing it all poses a significant challenge, especially since much of this data falls under federal regulations such as HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).
Data & demands
Modern medical research generates massive amounts of data, and performance demands are equally daunting. Image archiving and communications systems, genomic sequencing, connected devices and systems - all are data-intensive applications that require not only enormous capacity but also high-speed access. Additionally, storage systems must be able to scale up or down as needed to cost-effectively meet the needs of individual research teams.
Data must also be accessible from various locations. Research facilities may not only be spread across a campus, they span the globe with multiple teams collaborating on a single project. That data must also be protected, ideally with RPOs (recovery point objectives) and RTOs (recovery time objectives) of near zero in the event of an outage or disaster. Downtime not only costs money, but lost data can seriously jeopardize research results.
Finally, there’s the issue of securing information. Data must be encrypted in transit and at rest to prevent exposing personal health details. Managing fully encrypted information is tricky, but necessary, as a simple data breach could ruin an organization’s reputation and result in lost funding. Auditing logging and control is needed to track access. And, of course, so is proving compliance with regulatory and security measures such as HIPAA, GDPR and SOC-2.
Doing all this on your own is difficult, to say the least. That’s why, healthcare organizations are increasingly turning to storage services like ClearSky.
ClearSky is the only hybrid cloud storage as-a-service solution that combines the performance and availability of local enterprise storage with the scalability and economics of the cloud. It delivers on-demand primary storage, offsite backup, as well as disaster recovery as a single, integrated service.
It’s a research-ready approach, one in which complex requirements for data storage, access and management are met with a secure, turnkey option that is cost effective. That means rather than managing infrastructure, IT personnel can focus on delivering technology services to support researchers.
In fact, organizations use this infrastructure as a differentiator, attracting top researchers who know technical resources can advance their efforts.
Partners in research
Case in point is Partners Healthcare (Partners), Massachusetts’ largest healthcare system and a leader in biomedical research. Several of its hospitals are teaching affiliates of Harvard Medical School. The Enterprise Research & Information Services (ERIS) group inside Partners’ serves the organization’s research and clinical Innovation communities with technology services and platforms that support their work. ERIS specifically chose to use ClearSky to overcome the challenges of managing extremely sensitive data.
Many of Partners’ departments have contracts that stipulate a high base level for security and compliance. With ClearSky, they can meet all privacy, protection and security requirements without spending a month auditing their systems to demonstrate compliance. And because IT personnel no longer need to manage storage or babysit backups, they can spend their time working on more strategic projects.
“The ERIS group relies on ClearSky to protect, secure, store and provide access to our data,” said Brent Richter, enterprise director of Partners ERIS. “As a result, our team members can focus on data projects that can make a valuable difference to Partners’ mission of making medical breakthroughs instead of spending their time solving storage issues.”
ClearSky has met ERIS’ varied requirements, including audit logging and data encryption. Data is backed up automatically every few minutes, with no impact on the production environment, and restoring data is fast. With annual retention policies included as a default and plenty of customization options for different regulations and data, ERIS is protected against outages and data loss.
“With ClearSky, the data our researchers need is highly accessible,” Richter said. “It’s where it needs to be at the right time, which eases the process of accessing and using the data. And we’ve had no issues with latency. We still have some storage that we manage on-prem, and our teams cannot detect any difference in system performance while accessing data that we manage ourselves versus the data managed by ClearSky. That’s a huge benefit.”
Want to learn more about how ClearSky can help your clinical research organization overcome data storage, protection and access challenges? Take a look at our clinical research brief or sign up for a demo today.