When examining which technologies will have the most impact in the healthcare industry in the near future it’s hard to ignore Vendor Neutral Archives. Hospitals are looking to VNAs to improve patient safety and reduce readmissions by improving communication and information sharing between departments. As health systems become larger and more integrated, VNAs seem a natural next step for those that focus on patient-centric care.
What Are VNAs?
OffSite Image Management describes vendor neutral archiving as “the process by which images and other medical data can be shared, regardless of who is using what hardware.” Without data being tied to a single vendor, access to both images and information is easy and available to all providers.
VNA enables hospitals to utilize the cloud to store images and reports, and eliminate the need for tiers of online and offline systems. In addition, with most providers managing the system’s operation, IT and other hardware-related costs are decreased.
In the event of a disaster, hybrid VNAs can be a lifesaver, since they store second copies of images on the cloud. This can significantly reduce the cost of recovery.
Although the full benefits of VNA are still being identified, they include:
- Access to complete patient records for all providers, regardless of hardware
- Inclusion of images and reports in Electronic Medical Records
- Interoperability among IT systems which enable easy sharing of medical information
Future of VNA
Although growth has been steady, data breaches and long lifecycles of VNA software—which could extend 10-20 years—have resulted in slowing down the buying process. In addition, some are uncomfortable about switching out an entire archiving system, and mistakenly believe that a complete VNA system needs to be installed all at once vs. over time.
There is still some confusion about exactly what constitutes a VNA and lack of uniformity in what each system offers. It is up to each institution to research vendors to ensure they are getting what they need in terms of interoperability and conformance.