Symantec to play host to health care companies

Symantec Health offers online storage and archiving for hospitals and health care providers to better help them retain and share medical records.

Symantec on Monday announced the launch of a hosting service designed to let health care providers store, archive, and share their medical records.

The company's new Symantec Health service is designed to help hospitals and health care companies offload the costs and internal resources used to house medical records. As health care firms are forced to keep more image-based files, such as lab tests, for longer retention times, their storage costs have soared, said Symantec. The Symantec Health service will offer an alternative cloud-based storage environment where companies can budget and pay only for what they need.

The service will also allow health care providers to share their reports and images with hospitals and doctors over the Internet, an alternative to the CDs and DVDs that many companies now use to send out reports.

The new service will incorporate two different components: Symantec Health Safe and Symantec Health Image Share. Symantec Health Safe will handle the image archiving, said the company, and provide the necessary security to keep those images safe and protected. Symantec Health Image Share will take care of the file sharing, letting medical providers access and view the stored records.

Symantec sees the new service as another technology to help hospitals deal with the high cost of health care. The company cited an industry report from last June reporting that the average health image file now ranges in size from a few tens of megabytes to several hundreds of megabytes. As a result, health care providers are seeing a 20 percent to 40 percent annual jump in their imaging archive needs, bumping up costs despite lower prices on storage hardware.

"Health IT executives continually cite the soaring costs associated with medical image storage as one of the biggest challenges they face," said Lori Wright, vice president and general manager of the Electronic Health Group at Symantec, in a statement.

The storage provided by Symantec Health can be increased as a hospital's records and medical images grow. Symantec said it will also offer analytics to help budget future needs. The company stressed that the storage would be secure and available even if the business suffers a security problem or other disruption. Doctors and other authorized staff would be able to search for, view, and download medical images through the Web.

Symantec Health Safe is now available to health care providers, while Symantec Health Image Share should be released in the next few weeks.

Through Health Safe, Symantec joins a growing list of companies eager to expand into the growing health care technology market. Digitizing and sharing medical records is a key initiative for health care providers, one of several that the industry hopes can make a dent into the high cost of medical care. Dell , Microsoft , and IBM are just a few of the many players offering new products and technologies to take advantage of the move toward electronic medical record keeping.

Other tech companies are announcing their own initiatives at this week's annual Health Care Information and Management Systems Society Conference & Exhibition, a health care trade show in Atlanta.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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