Rick Haverty Keeps the University of Rochester Medical Center Humming with Efficient Data Storage and Back-up

Do you realize that every time you visit a hospital emergency room, or lay on an operating table that IT Operations within a hospital are running behind the scenes to support you and ensure your care?  I didn’t realize how important that behind the scenes infrastructure is, until I listened to Rick Haverty, Director of IT infrastructure at University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC ) speak at IBM’s recent Storage Innovation Conference. The mission of  URMC is to use science, education and technology to improve health.  URMC has received over $400 million USD in NIH grants, which makes them the 23rd largest University-based academic medical centers in the country. They have over 900 doctors, general practitioners and specialists.  This is a full service medical hospital is one of the United States’ top academic medical centers. Listening to the story that  Rick Haverty tells, it’s easy to see why. 

” Storage helps University of Rochester Medical Center handle their medical imaging needs,” notes Rick. ” With 90,000 ER visits a year, there is never a good time for downtime.”  For a hospital downtime is literally the difference between life and death. The bottom line is that care can not be as comprehensive if the hospital’s records and IT infrastructure are not working or even if they are running slowly.  Doctors need to know the medications patients are on, and their medical history, in order to give the best care. Of the patients, Rick says, “I can’t help but put myself in the position these people are in. If you walk around the hospital you see it every day. There are people in trouble, and they need this type of care.”

Providing the best care means data storage of medical records and x-rays/imaging. To understand how vast the University of Rochester Medical Center IT infrastructure is, consider this.  URMC has an IBM BlueGene supercomputer, a Cisco network withover 45,000 ports, and over 7.5 million square feet of Wi-Fi wireless internet coverage. They have three datacenters. The first is 7,500 square feet, the second is 6,000 square feet, and the third is just 800 square feet to hold their “off-site tapes”. 

“There are three full data centers running all the time ,” says Rick. “I’ve got a shadow read-only system so if the data centers are down, the care givers can at least get in and read the information that’s sitting in there. Then I’ve got something called Web Access read-only sitting in the third data center with back-up data that’s away from all of the data centers and it’s available when people in the hospitals can’t reach the first three systems (four counting the shadow system), they now have information on the Web read-only system.”   There are also stand-alone DRCPs containing the hospital’s census information in each unit.  Constant journaling and back-up is continually happening. Rick’s data planning blueprint provides the Medical Center with a number of ways to ensure patient care via well-stored data.

URMC has digitized all of their records, including Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system, medical dosage history, imaging “priors”, calibration of infusion pumps, RFID monitoring, and even provide IT support while the patient is on the operating table. RFID monitoring ensures all of the refrigerators are keeping medications at the right temperature. A single failed refrigerator can lose $20,000 dollars worth of medication.  There is quite simply no room for error. URMC’s EMR software (Epic) runs on clustered IBM POWER7 servers, with DS8700 disk systems using Metro Mirror to secondary location. The medical center  also keep a third “shadow” POWER7 for read-only purposes, and a separate system that provides web-based read-only access. Finally, they have 90 stand-alone Personal Computers (PCs) that contain information for all the patients that have reservations this week, just in case all the other systems fail.



The exploding volume of data comes from medical imaging. For radiology (X-rays), each image is called a “study” takes 20-30 MB each, and they have 650,000 studies per year. This represents about 16TB storage per year, with 3 second response time access. Legal regulations require that the records be kept for 7 years since last view, or until the patient reaches the age of 18 years old, which ever is later.  That makes it mandatory to have excellent storage systems for patient medical imaging.

But  X-rays are only one medical systems which need to be stored.   Tests involving human cells also must be storied plus the studies derived from them.  Each study consumes 10-20GB, and URMC does about 100,000 pathology studies per year, representing 150TB per year.

URMC has identified that they have 42 mission-critical applications. The data for these are stored on DS8000, XIV, Storwize V7000 and DS5000, all managed behind SAN Volume Controller.  That’s a lot of data!  “At some point I hope it all disappears into the Cloud,” jokes Rick.  But that is only a joke right now, with privacy and security concerns to consider, not to mention HIPPA, Cloud is not an area to be rushed into.  “I’m stepping into the cloud slowing, notes Rick.”  This sounds like just the right pace.

To hear more from Rick Haverty, Director of IT infrastructure at URMC, listen to the full session entitled “Continuous Data Availability” on  video in the  IT Storage community, simply click on video box in the upper right corner of the community home page screen and click, then select the Continuous Data Availability” session.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>