As the need to build an enterprise imaging strategy and the number of mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare industry continue to rise, many entities are moving towards vendor neutral archives (VNAs) for medical imaging management. Experts believe healthcare providers may gain many benefits as a result of the move from more traditional enterprise imaging systems such as picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) to VNAs.
PACS was once the go-to solution for enterprise medical imaging and storage, but was designed with radiology in mind, and today all kinds of physicians – not just radiologists – need immediate access to images in order to quickly and accurately diagnose patients. In contrast to PACS, VNAs allow for the capability to store images and objects outside of the traditional radiology and cardiology departments. These range from surgical videos, pictures and related paper documents across the entire clinical spectrum. This allows the care provider to see the entire patient record within the EMR or using a single viewing application on a common storage infrastructure.
As David LaBrosse, Strategic Partner Manager, Healthcare Data Management Solutions at NetApp explained to us in a recent interview, “Doctors and healthcare providers across the continuum need easy access to medical images and traditional enterprise imaging solutions are limited in this regard. In order to truly be able to enhance patient care, providers need solutions that allow them to review medical images and patient’s medical history within an electronic medical record (EMR) simultaneously. That’s where VNAs come in.”
In addition to allowing for a central hub of imaging data that can be shared across the hospital network, VNAs offer other benefits. Tony Turner, Strategic Partner Manager at NetApp, added, “VNAs allow healthcare providers to access even the most complex medical information such as patient-related documents, sound, multi-media images, and video to mobile devices or desktops using a zero-footprint universal viewer.”
VNAs also create cost efficiencies for hospitals and providers. “From a cost perspective, VNAs offer the ability to more efficiently manage storage. With VNA, each PACS becomes a cache avoiding the need to grow individual storage silos across the hospital system anymore. They allow for one common storage infrastructure, bringing about economies of scale,” Turner said.
Perhaps more important than creating cost efficiencies, VNAs have the capability to enhance patient care in a number of ways. The speed and accessibility available with VNAs support better clinical decision making. VNAs facilitate better patient communication, collaboration and diagnostics by enabling caregivers to see the full patient record. Finally, unnecessary patient transfers may be reduced with the use of VNAs. Turner shared this may be done with “real-time sharing between clinicians and specialists so they may identify immediately whether or not a patient should be transferred.”
Turner concludes, “Vendor neutral archives (VNAs) are critical to helping modern healthcare organizations create efficiencies, cut costs, and ultimately deliver better patient care. And that’s what we’re all striving for.”
Find out how NetApp is providing scalable systems for imaging and archiving here.