Whether you crave immediate results from IT investments or love to get ahead of a curve, we’ve got points for consideration on integrating your organization’s cardiovascular information system (CVIS) with your vendor neutral archive (VNA).
Let’s talk about the practical side of integration, the part where you get near-instant gratification. First, if your organization has purchased a VNA, you want to leverage that investment. Connecting the CVIS to the VNA creates opportunities for more efficient storage asset management and reduction in administrative overhead. Most VNA systems today offer image management capabilities that are superior to most CVIS systems. Put simply, it doesn’t make much sense to have a central image repository and store cardiology images in a separate system.
The second consideration is access. Yes, most cardiac systems allow authorized users to access cardiac images via the web, but this requires opening, configuring, and managing a separate access port, which doubles the exposure to risk. Once cardiac images are in your VNA, they can be easily accessed by authorized users both within the enterprise and outside it.
But connecting the CVIS to the VNA is not only critical for better IT operations. It is also critical for the success of the Diagnostic Imaging practice in your organization. The lines between cardiology and radiology are blurring. With the growing adoption of Interventional Radiology and the ongoing clinical improvements in this area, we already see radiologists performing certain procedures in the cath-lab or cardiologists performing procedures that are not related to the vascular system.
Another example could be the need for a cardiologist to review a chest CT scan. When images are kept apart clinicians struggle to read the resulting images and either waste time or not provide the best care possible. The radiologist probably does not have access to CVIS images on his/her desktop and may have to travel a considerable distance to find a machine that does. Integrating the CVIS to a VNA can solve this problem. VNA’s are usually coupled with an Enterprise Viewer that streamlines workflows across departments and facilities. Images can be accessed by all authorized users regardless of where the image was acquired.
That’s not the end of the world, of course, but we must look at the reality: this trend is just beginning, especially as more surgeries move from invasive to non- or less-invasive procedures involving imaging and catheters.
The clear solution is centrally stored images with access for all.
Two Integration Stages
When it comes to integration, we again have an immediate option and a more long-term one. Since most CVIS can connect to a VNA through a DICOM interface for image archiving, achieving basic integration (one-way data flow) is relatively simple and a great first step.
However, tighter integration through more sophisticated interfaces like Image Object Change Management (IOCM) results in two-way data flow that allows for more efficient patient updates, data transfers, and more. In an ideal world, the VNA becomes the driver for PACS and cardiology workflow as well as new, interventional workflows that span the two systems.
Regardless of whether you’re arranging a basic integration first or diving right into a more complicated one, common sense dictates that if you plan to change or upgrade your CVIS, you’ll want to purchase one with the ability to use advanced protocols. And it goes without saying that if you want to stay with your current system, it’s a good idea to talk to your vendor to make sure they plan to add IOCM in the near future.
Likewise, you’ll want to make sure your VNA can support the various workflows needed by the departments that will be using it. Cardiology in particular has important, specific requirements such as storing non-DICOM data and cine clips.
As our customers decide how they’ll integrate CVIS with enterprise systems like VNA and EMR, we’ll be following them closely and relating them to you here.
If you’re going to RSNA this year, book a demo or meeting in advance to discuss how we can help you address your security workflow and interoperability needs, then visit McKesson booth 7313 in the North Hall.