Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) – Imaging

The Vendor Neutral Medical Image Archive Solution


Healthcare Information Systems have undergone tremendous changes in the past few years. Digital imaging has proliferated across the entire healthcare industry; from large hospitals to remote clinics. Furthermore, these imaging systems were once the exclusive domain of clinical specialists such as radiologists and cardiologists, but now these images are being made available to all healthcare professionals.

Healthcare Imaging Capacity Needs are Exploding

The amount information being created worldwide is staggering. The healthcare field has a special set of issues:

  • The amount of data being created and stored by these imaging systems is growing at a rapid rate as imaging technology improves, and as new forms of diagnostic imaging are marketed.
  • Laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) dictate the long-term storage and protection of patient information (including imaging studies).
  • The healthcare industry is especially susceptible to litigation and the resulting eDiscovery of electronically stored information (ESI). For example, a child undergoing a medical procedure has legal recourse for up to 9 years after their 18th birthday.

The creation of these digital images has spawned proprietary management systems from companies such as Agfa, GE, McKesson, and others. The Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) is the underlying software for the various clinical areas (“modalities” in healthcare-speak) and the data formats vary between vendors. The result is that each vendor has a lock on their data that requires a costly exit or conversion to another vendor’s product. For example, a Long Island NY hospital has spent $3M over the past three years migrating data from a GE imaging system.

The development of an Application Neutral Archive (ANA) or Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) unlocks the vendors’ hold over the hospital should their relationship or technology deteriorate. Most hospital systems have grown through acquisitions of small hospital which has resulted in multiple PACS performing the same clinical function. Because of the preferences of physicians and specialists of the acquired hospital system and/or the cost of migration, multiple systems and associated costs result. These issues are further complicated by incomplete or nonexistent patient indexing systems.


Strategic Planning Ensures Success

It is short-sighted to view a VNA purchase as merely an opportunity for IT hardware simplification or consolidation of
radiology images. This narrow view jeopardizes the enterprise clinical workflow improvements that broadly benefit clinical
quality and physician productivity. As these examples have illustrated, success is often driven by an enterprise imaging
plan that reflects the organization’s overall needs – and not just those of a single department. It is also reasonable to
expect that one or more of the following enterprise imaging challenges can be addressed, even if primary drivers are
improved patient care, physician productivity and clinical quality:

  • Unmanageable IT support costs because of the large
    number of disparate IT systems
  • Clinical users unable to get a unified view of patient
    clinical information across disparate systems
  • Poor system availability with inadequate business
    continuity and disaster recovery
  • Slow data migration, often interrupting clinical service

About Sandpiper:

Sandpiper Data Systems provides strategic, complete and all-encompassing IT solutions, integration services, strategic architecture and facilities management. While the company has built a solid reputation with highly technical storage management services, Sandpiper is now a recognized leader in providing the expertise, methodologies, products and solutions required to easily navigate the entire IT enterprise. SDS was founded in 1998.