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Enterprise PACS or VNA: Which is best for your organization?

July 18, 2017
Health IT
From the July 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Even if an organization consolidates facilities on shared enterprise PACS, a VNA may still be required for managing and exchanging imaging records outside the clinical domains of the PACS, and the facilities it serves.
What is right for your organization?

Determining the most effective imaging IT solution architecture for today and tomorrow requires an examination of your current and projected needs and workflows. The design should be based on the organization’s strategy, vision, values and policies.

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If the organization is regionally focused, a single PACS (per clinical domain) may yield significant benefits among the users and cost savings. As patient referral patterns tend to be localized to a region, a single PACS can reliably provide a common diagnostic image repository.

When selecting an enterprise PACS, several capabilities are commonly required, including the ability to manage multiple patient identities (including an MPI value), multiple procedure sets, organization-specific QC workflows, different pre-fetching rules and others.

Depending on the image archive capabilities of the radiology PACS, it may be capable of acting as the long-term archive for cardiology exam data and even enterprise images. Capabilities to integrate with enterprise viewer, image sharing and health information exchange applications should also be evaluated.

When an organization is large and distributed over several regions, sharing an image repository, such as a VNA, can provide a common view of all of a patient’s imaging records. Each connected PACS may serve multiple facilities within a region. In this case, the merits of an enterprise PACS are experienced among the facilities within a region where a patient commonly seeks services, and the benefits of the VNA are realized when patient record access needs to span regions.

Careful attention should be paid to how a PACS interoperates with a VNA that is acting as the long-term image archive, as this can vary and any gaps may prevent information access, cost reduction and performance objectives from being met.

An effective enterprise viewer solution can significantly reduce the number of users who access the PACS, so it is an important part of a comprehensive medical imaging strategy.

About the author: Don K. Dennison has spent more than 15 years working in the medical imaging informatics industry. He serves as a consultant specializing in imaging informatics. Dennison serves on the board of directors of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) and several committees. He also chairs some American College of Radiology (ACR) committees.

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