The Vendor Neutral Archive offers the promise of a future-proofed archive, but because there isn’t any VNA conformance statement, there is no litmus test for a true VNA. The proliferation of PACS over the past decade makes the need to centralize and share data has even more imperative – but also more difficult as the complexity of workflow challenges impacts a healthcare provider’s ability to effectively manage their archive.
While many vendors may claim that their products are vendor neutral, there are several criteria to consider.
- First, you want to make sure that any solution you consider provides long-term viability of your stored data. Long-term viability can be provided by using a non-proprietary format (DICOM Part 10) to store your medical images and other objects. This strategy enables you to share all the DICOM data elements of your medical images, such as presentation states and key image notes –enabling you to support a future strategy for growth.
- Second, you want a solution that can integrate with your EMR. You need to consider a solution that can store many types of electronic documents (medical images and scanned files) in the archive and associate them with the patient or study – making it possible for your Electronic Medical Record (EMR) to access them. In addition to the EMR, you need to consider how you can interface with your HIS and other clinical systems for the communication of reports, results, and updates – via the HL7 standard.
- And last – but certainly not least – you want to make sure that any VNA solution you consider is supported by a storage environment that offers built in capabilities to manage upgrades and replacements so that those projects can be completed with minimal impact on clinical operations. You need to minimize disruption to your workflow, and it is critical to understand how your future plans for PACS migrations and other updates will impact you.
As you can see, there is more to being vendor neutral than simply making the claim. Assess your current situation, and learn how you can future-proof your archive.