Linux helps medical research: a case study (page 1 of 4)
- Wednesday, December 29 - 2004 at 11:25
Large volumes of data files, combined with the necessary high security made Linux and IBM the right collaborative choice to enable data sharing between healthcare institutions in different locations.
Berman: What were the challenges you were facing at the start of this project?
Dr. Hollebeek: Very simply, we needed to acquire digital patient records and make them available. We focused, initially on mammography.
Mammography is an area that is just converting over from analog to digital methodologies. Interestingly enough, the volume of information generated by these new, digital, mammographic machines is really quite large.
Typically, we measure their output in terabytes, per hospital, per year. Another challenge has been trying to build something that would allow hospitals to securely capture that information from those digital machines without having to deploy really serious databases with the hardware on site.
We have solved that problem with the constraints are that you have to handle really high volumes, and you have to do it at relatively high security levels.
Berman: And how was Linux a solution to the challenges of high volume and high security?
Dr. Hollebeek: We needed a vendor that could deliver all the basic components of a large-scale, on demand solution. The Linux cluster includes software, servers and storage equipment that enables leading edge research and data sharing between healthcare facilities.
We basically built systems that were able to move medical content from one hospital to another while simultaneously satisfying all of the government regulations for security. We also had to build in the work flow requirements within -hospitals such as when you can and cannot move medical information.
This work resulted in what is called NDMA, which stands for National Digital Mammography Archive. The development of NDMA was needed because mammography has an extremely large volume of data files that were often unavailable, leaving radiologists without comparative records for making diagnosis.
Berman: How did the University of Pennsylvania get involved in this project?
Dr. Hollebeek: The University of Pennsylvania helped start NDMA and later decided that this was sufficiently interesting to consider commercializing as a technology transfer. So, over the past year, I have been working with a new company called i3ARCHIVE.
Berman: How does this all come together?
Dr. Hollebeek: i3ARCHIVE now has real hospital clients so we are beginning to bring up hospital systems and provide commercial services to them. The way this is done is to put a very high security but lightweight footprint inside the hospital network.
This "WallPlug system" is capable of interfacing between things that have to happen inside of the hospital and things that need to be transferred to and from the outside. These are the kinds of services that we need in the back-end to build these serious databases. That device is called a wall plug just to evoke the idea that this is something that you can plug into and you get services from.
Berman: Where does Linux play a part in this?
Dr. Hollebeek: Linux is used in two places in the system. The wall plugs are special security devices. Part of that runs Linux. Linux is used there to manage network protocols and do very efficient network transport.
The files we use are fairly large and we want to move them efficiently and rapidly.
The information comprised in this section is not, nor is it held out to be, a solicitation of any person to take any form of investment decision. The content of the AMEinfo.com Web site does not constitute advice or a recommendation by AME Info FZ LLC / 4C and should not be relied upon in making (or refraining from making) any decision relating to investments or any other matter. You should consult your own independent financial adviser and obtain professional advice before exercising any investment decisions or choices based on information featured in this AMEinfo.com Web site.
AME Info FZ LLC / 4C can not be held liable or responsible in any way for any opinions, suggestions, recommendations or comments made by any of the contributors to the various columns on the AMEinfo.com Web site nor do opinions of contributors necessarily reflect those of AME Info FZ LLC / 4C.
In no event shall AME Info FZ LLC / 4C be liable for any damages whatsoever, including, without limitation, direct, special, indirect, consequential, or incidental damages, or damages for lost profits, loss of revenue, or loss of use, arising out of or related to the AMEinfo.com Web site or the information contained in it, whether such damages arise in contract, negligence, tort, under statute, in equity, at law or otherwise.