vendor neutral archive
The following article written by Michael J. Cannavo was published in the February 2016 issue edition of DOTMed Healthcare Business News and is reprinted here with permission.
At RSNA 2015, hospital decision-makers walked the exhibit hall show floor trying to figure out exactly where PACS fits in their long-range strategic plans. Does it remain as it is today, primarily as a standalone radiology system, does it join other clinical imaging systems like cardiology to become an Integrated Imaging Solution (IIS) or does it become a part of an enterprise-wide electronic health record (EHR)? The answer, not surprisingly, is all of the above.
Vendor neutral archives are designed to help reduce resource and financial pressures. The flexibility and neutrality of these radiology imaging archives provide key short- and long-term benefits for healthcare executives looking to offload time and cost.
Whether you need short-term relief from expensive PACS archives, or are looking to overhaul your entire imaging system, a vendor neutral archive (VNA) may be the answer.
Data management is a costly business, especially when it comes to medical imaging. Healthcare providers are challenged with managing data governance, security and disaster recovery across multiple siloed imaging systems. Often, executing and monitoring a single corporate strategy is almost impossible.
Add to that some costly data migrations, as systems go out of date, and you understand why imaging data management is considered to be one of the biggest financial and logistical headaches for healthcare providers.
How can healthcare providers protect their sanity and reduce overhead as new data technology emerges?
Healthcare organizations of all sizes and complexities must address the changing landscape of value-based care. Older, proprietary archive systems are increasingly becoming obsolete, replaced by vendor neutral systems that support each other seamlessly.
This digital integration must be supported by a similar departmental integration. Radiology departments looking to streamline their imaging processes and data with other departments and facilities can turn to vendor neutral archives (VNA) for this purpose.
Here are three ways that a VNA can streamline integration between departments, improving workflow and producing better overall care.
1. Shifting image management away from PACS
Every healthcare leader understands the immense cost of data breaches. Understandably, CIOs and security directors are increasingly concerned about data security. How can the right vendor neutral archive (VNA), allow these leaders to sleep easier at night knowing their data is secure?
Jonathan Carr, Business Development & Channel Manager at McKesson, notes that the centralized nature of a VNA provides the best opportunity for healthcare data protection.
“When you have a VNA, you basically have a centralized inventory of all your data assets in one system,” Carr said. Such an inventory can be used to help consolidate your data under a seamless encryption system.
The last thing an organization looking to consolidate patient images and streamline image sharing needs is a vendor neutral archive that’s not truly vendor neutral. So, how can you quickly sift through the hype to determine whether a product is a gussied-up PACS or a true VNA?
It’s actually not as hard as it seems. PACS are optimized for data injection—i.e., absorbing images from multiple modalities into the system so they can be diagnosed by radiologists and other imaging specialists. Vendor neutral archives, in contrast, must be optimized for outbound communication so that thousands of referring specialists in the community can access patient images. Any product you’re evaluating that doesn’t simplify workflow for all users (not just within or between departments) and enable image data sharing between disparate healthcare systems is not a true vendor neutral archive.
Leaders of healthcare organizations are continually being challenged to do more with less while proving that improved efficiency and better patient health stem from their decisions. At McKesson, we work closely with healthcare executives and hear about the challenges they face. This allows us to create enterprise medical imaging solutions that can help them address their healthcare systems’ needs.
Whether healthcare systems have outdated PACS that operate in silos, need strategies to maximize their EHR investment or are trying to improve staff efficiency, most decision makers face overlapping issues. The most common considerations when choosing a new enterprise medical imaging system include return on investment (ROI), performance, patient care and balancing quality and cost.
The pressure on hospitals continues to build as CMS payments decrease, special payments like tax breaks and incentive funding expire, and utilization declines. To survive, many large hospitals have merged with smaller ones in an effort to maintain operating profits through asset consolidation. Other hospitals are expanding vertically, purchasing ambulatory care facilities, home care agencies, and free-standing dialysis clinics. Some are doing both.
In the midst of all this change, plus repeated cost-reduction directives, medical imaging executives are seeking guidance. Specifically, they’re asking: What is the role of imaging in a consolidated environment and/or one that involves care across multiple settings?
As hospital organizations realize the ever increasing amounts of stored imaging data residing in their PACS systems, they are beginning to question their image archiving strategies.
The cost of medical imaging data storage has increased due to advances in digital imaging scans. These rising costs coupled with other environmental factors have caused vendor neutral archives (VNA) to grow in popularity, representing a true solution for hospitals wanting greater control over how their images are stored and used.
The most attractive benefit for choosing a vendor neutral archive for many health care IT departments is in eliminating the need to migrate data from its PACS which is costly and cumbersome.
Achieving the picture of better health means focusing on the technology and services that can help make a healthcare organization run more efficiently than ever. Technology is integrating organizational complexities, connecting care teams and streamlining workflow. Enterprise imaging solutions give medical professionals the confidence to make those decisions that deliver better care.
No Clear Picture
But just what is enterprise imaging? There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on a true description. As one definition, enterprise imaging is a solution that archives and manages image data on behalf of the systems with which it interfaces.