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Add to that some costly data migrations, as systems go out of date, and you understand why imaging data management is considered to be one of the biggest financial and logistical headaches for healthcare providers.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?
Vendor neutral systems, built on open, non-proprietary infrastructures, offer providers a method of data sharing that consolidates formats and helps reduce potential maintenance costs. By taking these responsibilities off of the local healthcare staff, a vendor neutral archive (VNA) can cushion resource budgets, freeing up time for improved patient care. Here’s how:
1. Avoid data migration and interfaces
With a VNA, there is no need to migrate data as PACS systems gets replaced. Data is standardized and can be accessed with standard tools, and sharing data is simpler and done from a single hub.
Michael J. Gray, Principal at Gray Consulting, notes that a VNA can offer true storage savings over disparate PACS.
“The typical VNA supports a sophisticated Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) application that can move image data between various tiers of storage media based on metadata filters — current data is kept close at hand, and older data is moved to less expensive media,” Gray said. “The VNA has a lower Total Cost of Ownership due to lower costs of storage and storage management.”
2. Less administrative overhead
Non-proprietary VNA solutions can adapt to existing on-site and virtualized storage options. This frees the provider to seek the least expensive storage combinations for their current infrastructure.
Centralizing your storage option reduces costs, as it becomes easier to implement corporate-wide strategies (such as disaster recovery).
When the University Hospitals (UH) Health System in Cleveland chose to migrate its imaging data from a PACS-only system to a VNA with virtual Windows servers, it solved two of their largest pain points:
- Provided a virtualized, backup option in case of physical disaster
- Reduced downtime during migrations (from an industry-standard 12 hours to just 15 minutes)
According to UH PACS Manager Beverly Rosipko, RT(R), CIIP, there were 3.8 million studies performed between 2004 and 2011 (under the original, PACS-only system). With the new virtualized VNA, their disaster recovery system has expanded to 4.8 million studies. Because of this, UH is better protected from disastrous (and costly) data breaches.
3. Leverage new technologies
PACS require routine maintenance of aging machine and imaging software, especially if they operate on different departmental infrastructures. Resources needed to convert imaging files between department PACS can also affect overall maintenance costs.
This is a prime benefit of newer, virtualized systems, where the physical storage represents only part of data imaging collection. VNAs can leverage new virtualized storage to provide online image access with the same standard format as on-site access.
VNAs adopt new storage technologies (like virtualized/cloud storage) faster than traditional PAC systems, providing a better application lifecycle management that leads to more efficient storage utilization.
Providers who opt for a VNA can bypass common PACS-related management costs, giving them more resources to improve patient care. Read more about modern radiology imaging by subscribing to the Medical Imaging Talk blog or read more about McKesson’s vendor agnostic solution suite, Conserus™.