Digital Medics GmbH answers the demands of its distributed medical imaging solution with IBM technology

Published on 06-Feb-2012

Validated on 01 Aug 2013

Digital Medics GmbH

Computer Services

Deployment country:

IT/infrastructure, Cloud Computing, High Availability , Optimizing IT, Smarter Computing


Headquartered in Dortmund, Germany, Digital Medics GmbH develops innovative solutions in the field of medical image processing and visualization for medical imaging. VivoLab is the company’s revolutionary new diagnostic tool designed to enable radiological specialists to interact with images directly using a pen-enabled display. Innovative solutions such as these help healthcare professionals to rapidly deliver high-quality diagnoses and reduce overheads. Every solution implemented by Digital Medics GmbH is bundled with monitoring and maintenance.

Business need:
Digital Medics created an end-to-end high-resolution medical imaging system, which is a major advancement on current solutions that can only handle scaled-down versions of large data sets. The new solution called for a scalable IT infrastructure that could cope with the increased demand in storage and processing power.

Digital Medics and IBM® created an elastic private cloud, which can be easily scaled to handle very high peaks in workload. The cloud runs in a virtualized Linux® environment supported by IBM BladeCenter® technology. IBM System Storage® DS8300 and TS3100 systems are used for data storage, configured by IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager.

By providing the ideal support for Digital Medics’ medical imaging solution, the IBM infrastructure contributes to impressive cost savings for clinicians, with one hospital client estimating savings of up to 300,000 EURO a year. Advanced data compression and automated storage management cut data storage costs by more than 50 percent.

Case Study

To read a German version of this case study, click here.

Headquartered in Dortmund, Germany, Digital Medics GmbH develops innovative solutions in the field of medical image processing and visualization for medical imaging. VivoLab is the company’s revolutionary new diagnostic tool designed to enable radiological specialists to interact with images directly using a pen-enabled display. Innovative solutions such as these help healthcare professionals to rapidly deliver high-quality diagnoses and reduce overheads. Every solution implemented by Digital Medics GmbH is bundled with monitoring and maintenance, ensuring clients are fully supported in their journey towards an end-to-end high-resolution imaging workflow.

Dealing with the data explosion
Image data sets produced by the current generation of medical imaging devices increased up to a factor of 16 to 320 when compared to data sets produced by older generation devices. The increase can be attributed to higher-resolution images, e.g. for multi-slice-CTs, on the one hand and to the addition of functional data, e.g. for PET/CT, on the other. These advancements – also called the data explosion, come with disadvantages as well as benefits.

Physicians in hospitals and practices are flooded with images and are forced to adapt the everyday diagnostic routine to this rapid change in technology. Being confronted with low performance image viewing software at the frontend and a backend originally developed for handling a fraction of the images produced nowadays, physicians take the fastest way out of this dilemma by reducing the size of the produced data sets, before they are transferred to the image archiving and distribution system.

Digital Medics identified three areas that needed improvement to enable an end-to-end high-resolution workflow. These were enhancing image transfer through networks with varying characteristics, performance at the backend and user frontend, and tools at the user frontend for advanced analysis of large-scale data.

A key to succeeding in its goal was to find a suitable hardware infrastructure that could keep pace with the challenging demands posed by this high-resolution workflow. The huge volumes of data involved in processing, storing and distributing medical images meant that an exceptionally high-performance platform was required. Moreover, the selected IT solution needed to offer excellent levels of stability and availability, as any interruption or delays to a medical imaging service could have serious consequences for patients’ health. With the demand for medical images impossible to predict and constantly fluctuating, high levels of flexibility and scalability were also called for.

Specifically, the company needed to select the correct infrastructure to meet the requirements of a key client: the German clinical center Evangelische und Johanniter Klinikum Niederrhein (EJK), which has four locations in Duisburg, Oberhausen and Dinslaken. Aiming to boost efficiency and continuity of service, EJK wanted to consolidate its different radiological systems into a single, fully digitized solution. Digital Medics planned to create a private medical imaging cloud, accessible by all of EJK’s healthcare professionals from anywhere onsite.

Choosing IBM solutions
Digital Medics selected the IBM BladeCenter HS22 server as its platform of choice due to its unparalleled flexibility and performance. At EJK, the company deployed two IBM BladeCenter HS22 blade servers running the Red Hat Linux Enterprise operating system at the clinic’s computing center located at the Heart Center in Duisburg. Acting as a ‘nerve center’ for Digital Medics’ innovative radiological imaging system, the unique design and in-built versatility of the IBM BladeCenter technology optimizes performance of the software.

An IBM System Storage DS8300 disk system was implemented, with data archived to IBM Tape Storage TS3100, introducing multiple layers of failover for added resiliency. The IBM System Storage DS8300 offers integrated virtualization capabilities based on leveraging logical storage volumes. As a result, Digital Medics’ clients can benefit from the efficiencies of consolidation, without sacrificing the ability to tailor resources to the workload.

Exceptional scalability
Digital Medics recommends that all clients who run the company’s solution select IBM technology. Since demand for medical images varies unpredictably along with the number of diagnoses per year, it is impossible to predict the capacity required, making the easy scalability of IBM BladeCenter technology a major selling point. For example, during the project with EJK, Digital Medics was able to quickly and easily expand capacity three times by simply plugging in an additional blade server or an additional storage bay.

The blade servers are connected to cost-effective Lenovo x86 servers in each of the hospital sites, housing a local cache for images. The complexity of migrating data from one site to another is hidden from the user and triggered on-demand, whenever a user requests the data at the frontend. Each site works mainly on its local cache, where copies of recently archived or accessed studies are stored in Digital Medics’ proprietary compression format.

Data that cannot be found by the local cache is transparently requested from the main server at the computing center. This request is then locally forwarded to the IBM Tivoli Storage Manger middleware, which automatically handles local migration from tape archive to local discs, if necessary.

IBM Tivoli Storage Manager supports advanced service management capabilities, masking the complexity of the underlying infrastructure and automating resource configuration. This ensures easy management for solution providers like Digital Medics, enabling them to focus on core competencies with the tools to work most effectively at their fingerprints.

By offering healthcare professionals at EJK access to a private medical imaging cloud, the clinical center benefits from increased efficiency and consistency of operations across all locations.

Contributing to higher-quality patient care
The IBM solution drives rapid access to high-resolution medical images, helping healthcare professionals increase the quality of diagnoses. By providing access to a greater range of medical images at a higher resolution, physicians are given the tools they need to make more accurate diagnoses and best select a treatment plan for patients.

Diagnosing patients faster and more accurately leads to shorter waiting times and faster recovery. Both these factors contribute to shorter patient stays, enabling doctors to treat more people, cutting down on the cost of treating each patient while enhancing the quality of treatment. As a result, patients are more satisfied and the hospital can do more with limited resources.

Hospitals which are replacing printer-based systems with the Digital Medics visualization system make even larger savings – with EJK estimating it will save up to 300,000 EURO a year as a result of the project. Specifically, advanced data compression and automated storage management cut data storage costs at EJK by more than 50 percent.

Designed for Data: Images are stored as ‘thin slices’ in the archive, downloadable at high speed by clinicians as high-resolution medical images from anywhere onsite. IBM Tivoli Storage Manager configures data storage, handling tens of terabytes to optimize use of resources and ensure very high system responsiveness.

Tuned to the Task: The IBM BladeCenter HS22, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and Linux operating system together comprise a data retention stack, which provides the ideal platform to meet the expected peaks and troughs, offering unparalleled versatility and performance. Exceptional scalability enables Digital Medics to quickly and easily expand capacity or processing power by simply plugging in an additional storage bay or BladeCenter blade server.

Managed with Cloud Technologies: Digital Medics has created a private cloud solution for one of its largest clients. Rather than invest in fixed hardware capacity, when demand for diagnostic imagery rises, the IBM Tivoli Storage Manager software and the Red Hat virtualization layer automatically deploy greater resources to ensure continuous high-performance service delivery. The storage location of each study in this multi-site environment is hidden from the user, as migration logic is handled by the cloud itself. Leveraging cloud computing techniques masks the complexity of the underlying components, dynamically optimizing both storage and data processing.

Driving Innovation: Digital Medics has developed a groundbreaking medical imaging solution. By selecting IBM hardware as the platform of choice, Digital Medics offers clients superb reliability and flexibility, replacing physical systems with high-speed visual diagnostics and visualization dedicated to improving patient outcomes.

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

BladeCenter, BladeCenter HS22, BladeCenter running Linux - Red Hat, Storage, Storage: DS8300, Storage: Tape & Optical Storage, Storage: TS3100 Tape Library

Tivoli Storage Manager

Operating system:

Legal Information

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