Two imaging storage strategies vie for provider dollars

Healthcare providers are divided on the best approach to an enterprise imaging strategy, according to a new study by KLAS, an Orem-Utah-based research firm.

Some organizations are considering a vendor-neutral archive (VNA) approach, others a PACS enterprise archive solution. But most providers don't believe a single vendor can meet all of their needs.

Twenty-seven percent of KLAS' respondents favor an archive-centric strategy, while 25% incline toward the PACS-centric approach. The VNA solution was most often selected by hospitals with more than 500 beds, while smaller institutions tended to choose the PACs-centric option.

Other strategies mentioned by respondents include "utilizing the cloud" (13%), image exchange (11%), image enable vendor (10%) single PACS/PACS vendor (7%), DR/BC (6%), virtualization (2%), enterprise image viewer (1%), and storage consolidation (1%). Seven percent of respondents were still planning their strategy.

Among the vendors that offer PACS enterprise archive solutions, the most frequently mentioned were GE and Philips. Fuji came in third.

The most frequently cited vendors for a VNA-centric strategy were Agfa and Merge. Some clients were lukewarm toward Agfa but told KLAS they planned to stick it out. Merge's main drawback, in the view of respondents, is that it hasn't gotten enough imaging system vendors onboard.

The two main non-PACS vendors offering VNA are Acuo and TeraMedica, according to KLAS.

"Image storage is a necessity, no matter what option is chosen," said Ben Brown, imaging research director and author of the report. "As providers start to bring in more [imaging] studies and the studies themselves increase in size, the need for storage will increase."

The VNA approach may be confined to an enterprise or it can be a cloud-based solution that offers multiple providers the ability to not only store and manage images, but also share them. Merge's Honeycomb, for example, is a vendor-neutral, cloud-based network for sharing images among different provider organizations. Launched last November, Honeycomb is hosted by Dell through its Unified Clinical Archive solution, which manages about 4 billion images for healthcare providers.

In February, Peake Healthcare Innovations (a collaborative venture between Johns Hopkins University and Harris Corp.), VMware, and Intel announced an initiative to create a national imaging "mega-cloud." Johns Hopkins' hospital system will pilot the project.


To learn more:

- read the KLAS announcement

Related articles:

Merge network to enable online medical image sharing
Medical imaging 'mega cloud' in the works
Cloud computing in healthcare: the question is not if, but when


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