Vendor neutral archiving systems are fundamental to the enterprise-wide imaging platform for a healthcare system. Such tools not only help providers manage, store and share clinical images no matter the digital format, but they also enhance interoperability and can help organizations reach meaningful use attestation. So it's important for C-suite professionals to conduct an extensive investigation when shopping for VNAs. It can be a daunting task, as optimal tools such as FUJIFILM TeraMedica's VNA solutions are few and far between. Others have proven to be wasteful or deficient, draining precious time and resources at a great inconvenience to the enterprise.

That's why Imaging Technology News recently highlighted the three main factors - beyond cost - to keep in mind when shopping for a VNA: scalability, interoperability and manageability.

1. Scalability
Scalability is essential on both the infrastructural and departmental levels. VNA storage technology should be able to scale with future expansion of infrastructure to meet growing amounts of patient data as well as host new formats created by various departments and specialists. At the same time, VNAs must maintain an interchangeable platform without requiring format conversions.

2. Interoperability
The ability to share patient images and data across departments and the entire enterprise is becoming increasingly important in the current climate of healthcare. A VNA should allow for existing systems to interact with each other so that providers can exchange, display and interpret data quickly and efficiently, regardless of which vendor is used. Interoperability should work on three levels:

Foundational: Clinical image files and other patient data can be exchanged from one IT system to another.
Structural: The transfer of data can be interpreted accurately - it has not been altered and its quality is preserved, and movement between systems is smooth and uniform.
Semantic: Systems should use the same vocabulary with no discrepancies between electronic medical records, making codified data clear and comprehensible among all departments.
Working with a VNA company that also offers a universal viewer may also be beneficial, as such a tool enhances interoperability among different specialties.

3. Manageability
Being able to control patient data is imperative to clinical functions, and so a VNA should offer management features. These clinical archiving tools should also be capable of image lifecycle management, fully utilize hierarchical storage allocation and have compression capabilities.

Clinical archiving systems address many of the issues surrounding scalability, interoperability and manageability. They allow clinicians to store and manage images. In recent years, vendor neutral archives have been gaining popularity and have proved to aid the process of sharing images beyond a single department or point of care. VNA technology makes image sharing more universal by allowing doctors to access a large variety of formats, including both non-DICOM and DICOM images.

News brought to you by FUJIFILM TeraMedica, Inc., leaders in healthcare enterprise imaging (VNA) solutions.