August 18, 2022

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Why your PACS isn’t a VNA

 You can consolidate medical images into a single view and take control of your enterprise imaging information. You just need to go beyond your PACS.

Phil Wasson

Healthcare industry manager and consultant at Hyland

Medical professional reviews medical images on a computer.

For years, we’ve all heard the debate about your PACS: Traditional PACS can’t always compete with a true vendor neutral archive (VNA).

That is true!

Why? Because today, nearly every healthcare facility is struggling to manage imaging data generated outside of the traditional areas of radiology and cardiology. Many healthcare organizations today don’t even know the impact of these areas on their costs or revenue.

The bottom line is that imaging is becoming more available.

It’s also moving outside its traditional areas and becoming more embedded within the clinical care requirements at the point of care.

As a result, imaging generated outside of these conventional areas has become trapped in siloed approaches, creating inefficiencies that increase costs and complexity.

I would submit that a VNA solution today operating at the core of an enterprise imaging strategy is needed more than ever to fit the strategic needs of the healthcare delivery organization (HDO).

What is VNA? The consolidation point for enterprise images

Much like EMRs did to drive an enterprise approach to departmental systems, VNAs can serve as a consolidation point for all the enterprise images within your organization. This positions your HDO for more effective, efficient and functional medical imaging.

Why are siloed approaches to imaging within HDOs today any different than the departmental system approaches that existed 20 years ago?

With the advent of more enhanced workflow methods and viewing capabilities — including diagnostic capabilities — and with healthcare enterprises getting larger and more complex, a new, more strategic approach is now required for enterprise imaging.

How does VNA work? By providing a complete view of the patient

A VNA works by consolidating imaging information throughout the healthcare organization.

It makes that information easily accessible to the healthcare practitioners who use it in order to deliver quality care and improve patient outcomes. Together with the EMR, VNAs help create a complete view of the patient, which is imperative with the shift occurring from volume to value reimbursements. Imaging silos impact a provider’s ability to get a complete view of the patient, resulting in duplication of services that can waste time and money.

Silos also interfere with accurate and quality diagnoses, lowering patient satisfaction scores.

HDOs struggle with managing images not only within traditional imaging areas, but also in new areas where they deploy imaging.

Requirements, such as photos, video, ultrasound and others outside of the traditional imaging areas that reside in radiology and cardiology must be managed, indexed and made accessible with the same consideration given to traditional PACS.

Additional content such as GI images, surgical video, bedside ultrasounds, dermatology photos and pathology are often stored in non-integrated stand-alone silos around the HDO. Growing and creating more complexity by the day, it’s only through an enterprise imaging strategy — with the VNA at the core of that strategy — that gains a technical advantage for HDOs. HDOs must find strategic ways to effectively harness the myriad of imaging capabilities emerging in today’s highly complex healthcare system.

> Read more | Case study: UNC Health adopts VNA, achieves universal access and more

Why switch to VNA? Today’s healthcare needs versatility

Because of these complex challenges, HDOs should consider replacing traditional PACS with a more scalable and versatile, enterprise-based imaging solution that is strategic for the organization. Regardless of the need in enterprise imaging, the vendor-neutral archive platform provides the sophistication that is needed for versatility, functionality, scalability and enterprise approaches to many of the imaging workflows inside and outside of the HDOs that many traditional PACS solutions cannot meet.

This is at the heart of this VNA versus PACS debate.

We wanted to create a seamless image viewing experience for our physicians, so that it didn’t matter if a doctor was looking at a patient image in our community hospital or our main academic campus.

— Vineeta Khemani , Director of Information Services Division Architecture and Clinical Systems at UNC Health

What’s the difference between PACS and VNA? A standards-based strategy 

The core PACS vs. VNA difference is that a PACS is traditionally department-focused.

A VNA provides a more robust, resilient platform for multi-speciality imaging. A VNA also offers better support for mergers and acquisitions, integration and interoperability with enterprise applications, enterprise image access, and sharing and flexible storage architecture. With a VNA, you retain a full history of image ownership, which helps prevent data loss when your healthcare organization goes through changes.

A true VNA is one that is standards-based.

It offers the healthcare organization the ability to manage medical imaging on a standardized, vendor-independent platform and can provide access to a full range of DICOM and non-DICOM imaging data — wherever it resides.

With a true standards-based VNA at the core of an enterprise imaging strategy, a healthcare organization gains control and ownership over all medical images and associated data. The VNA can:

  • Reduce storage and migration costs
  • Capture point-of-care images correctly
  • Increase sharing capabilities
  • Integrate with EMRs
  • Improve overall data liquidity

The right VNA solution will offer a vendor-neutral approach to an enterprise imaging strategy. It will generate significant opportunities to standardize the enterprise, support its medical imaging needs and unleash the HDO’s control in managing its imaging information.

Taking control of your imaging data can significantly improve quality, drive efficiency and lower costs. You can consolidate all relevant medical images into a single view throughout the enterprise and finally take control of your enterprise imaging information.

You just need to go beyond your PACS.