Many healthcare institutions with multiple locations have experienced slow DICOM transmission across their WAN links, and have looked for solutions to improve transmission speeds (usually due to the critical nature and timeliness of the transmissions). WAN acceleration or WAN optimization devices help speed up these transmissions. But are your devices packing the 1-2-3 punch that Black Box provides?
While some traditional WAN acceleration or optimization technologies have been used by healthcare organizations and have provided some relief in certain situations, there are two basic technological or architectural problems that are limiting the benefits of these technologies in other applications.
Punch #1 and #2 – Cashing and Compression
Most WAN acceleration or optimization technologies involve caching or compressions. This approach can help in some cases, but in others it can be very limiting. Caching benefits transmission speeds by taking frequently requested data and storing it locally (instead of sending it across the internet each time you need it); this can help with web pages or other frequently used info, but doesn’t help much if the information being requested is unique medical images. Compressions can help by shrinking the file size of the data being sent, but many PACS systems have modes where they pre-compress the data before sending it. In this case, the compression attempts by other WAN accelerator appliances can actually slow down the transmissions.
Punch #3 – Protocol Optimization
Black Box can help PACS systems communicate across multiple locations with one or both of the following products:
Opti-WAN: A family of WAN Acceleration appliances, the Opti-WAN does not use compression or caching to achieve its speed gains. The Opti-WAN is specifically designed for long-distance or high-latency WAN connections. It accelerates links from a 1-Mb to a 1-Gb connection by accelerating and making more efficient all TCP/IP transmissions. Speed improvements can be as small as 20% or as high as 10x or more (depending on latency and other factors). DICOM traffic is one of the many formats that are helped by Opti-WAN.
Optinet: A family of secure web gateways, the Optinet provides packet-level visibility into the traffic going through your Internet gateway. By gaining this visibility, it allows the organization to identify critical traffic and accelerate it through the gateway. The ability to take DICOM transmissions from a PACS system and elevate it past all e-mail and general web browsing traffic can substantially increase the throughput. Traditional gateways don’t have the Layer-7 inspection capabilities of Optinet, and would have trouble identifying and selectively prioritizing unique traffic such as DICOM.
Think of all of the archived charts, pictures, x-rays, and other important files in your organization. Plus, many times a patient’s records involve several pictures in a series, from different angles, or with different filters. With the proper WAN appliances, PACS can efficiently deliver critical information; saving time, money, and lives.