Earlier this year, Node4’s Cloud Product Manager, Pete Springfield took the opportunity to interview NetApp’s Innovation Manager for Healthcare and Life Sciences for the EMEA region, Philippe Wackers with contributions from Principal Technologist for Healthcare at NetApp, Stephan Schmitt.
We were interested in finding out what was on the mind of one of the leading hybrid-cloud solution companies in the world and a Node4 primary vendor partner. As a result, we had a candid, informal and wide-ranging conversation.
In part two of our interview, we touched on the subjects of organisational funding in healthcare, typical budgets for storage and NetApp’s approach to differentiating data.
Counting the cost
Having discussed healthcare and issues with expenditure and given the NHS’ frequent issues with funding, it seemed prescient to enquire if NetApp had any examples of being able to dramatically drive down costs for a client.
“I think the biggest issue for funding healthcare organisations is that certainly it's changing now, thanks to Covid, because they get extra funding from government now. But organisations must justify it,” said Philippe. “It's not just like spending on a project and then the next week, further spending on a project and buying a completely different infrastructure which doesn't connect and integrate. Then you have to bring in other software to integrate, which can be complex and expensive.
“The direction of the NHS has changed several times and Trust investments have not been optimised to create an integrated and interoperable IT platform delivering to the full needs of healthcare today.
“And that is really taking a helicopter view. Where are you today? What do you want to achieve in the next three years, five years? And if you get in front of any CIO of a hospital, they often don't have the answer. A hospital is more than just imaging and the medical records system. And that's where you see most of the focus is going to those two systems.
“And there, you see the shortcoming of vendors. Not many of them have the capability of delivering these systems completely; they still have to rely on third-party software and so on, which makes it very complex.
“It all comes down to the specs, performance, protection and security. And I’m convinced that NetApp is extremely well placed to deliver to these requirements on all medical application vendors. In the datacentre, in a hybrid model and in the cloud. We have a unique ability to provide the same data management layer across all three.”
How to differentiate medical data the right way
Philippe touched on another of our questions in the above answer and it’s a fascinating one to consider, especially when considering the vast amounts of data that healthcare organisations now generate. We wanted to know if NetApp differentiate between true medical data, imaging and what we would call administrative data?
“I think that's just a way of looking at it. If you consider NetApp, you don't have to look project by project because then NetApp might be expensive,” he replied. “If you look at the total infrastructure here, TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), including backup, archiving, now moving data to the cloud, integration with other management software, automating stuff and so on, then NetApp will probably be the best, one of the better. I'm not going to say we’re the best, but we’re one of the better platforms to store your data, whether it's administrative data or imaging or whatever.
“In today’s healthcare, my belief is that a hospital should be in charge of and controlling its data, not be forced towards different platforms by an application vendor. Healthcare should deliver better, faster results for the clinicians alongside better and faster care for the patient. By making it more complex, more expensive, you're not really helping organisations or the taxpayer. If you look from a medical perspective like storage in a project, it's maybe one to three percent of the total budget. But it is a bit ridiculous that they are forcing their customers to implement different storage and that adds complexity to their environment.
Budgets for storage
Philippe suggested a surprisingly low figure when discussing storage budget – typically, the assumption would be that such a vital part of a hospital’s running would have substantially larger available funding.
“It depends on what type of application or what type of data. If you talk about genomics pathology, there it is a completely different thing. But if you talk about radiology in general, it's around 3%,” he replied.
“If you talk about pathology, that's a different story because the images are a lot bigger. They must store it for the lifetime of patients and want to keep it in the high resolution, mostly. And it all depends a little bit on the application. But I think in general, IT spending is like around 3-5% of the revenue of a hospital. So, to do what you need in a project like storage needs around 3% sometimes…well let's say 3-to-10% of the IT budget spend goes to storage.
“Over time, it might increase if they start doing more with cloud because the way they budget storage now, they don't look at all the storage. If you carried out an inventory of all the storage in a healthcare organisation, you end up with about 40% of unused capacity and that comes from any hand scanner device that comes with storage. But that could also directly go to shared storage or in the cloud. Those mobile carrier devices that come with the PC underneath, with triple the capacity that you would ever need, they (ISVs) are charging for it. There's a lot of standalone storage that could be centralised but is not part of the vision of the hospital, because they just look at it as we're buying storage that ends up in the data centre.”
Look out for Part 3 of our interview with Philippe soon.