E-Handbook: The evolution of VNA systems and medical imaging modalities Article 1 of 4

VNA systems benefit from cloud for storage, content management

Medical imaging, much like the rest of the healthcare industry, is undergoing a transformation. The cloud, AI and analytics have added new capabilities to traditional medical imaging systems like vendor neutral archives and picture archiving and communication systems, and the market is predicted to grow to $3.87 billion by 2023, according to a new report from Meticulous Research.

That growth is being driven by advancements in diagnostic imaging, an increased adoption of health IT and EHRs, and the explosion of big data in healthcare. As such, healthcare organizations should reconsider what they need from their existing vendor neutral archive (VNA) systems and how they can best keep up with the increasing demands that are being placed on medical imaging systems.

For example, healthcare organizations might want to evaluate new or upgraded VNA systems based on new cloud capabilities, said Rasu Shrestha, M.D., chief innovation officer at UPMC, a nonprofit health system in Pittsburgh.

"As we're contemplating the future of VNAs, it's also important to make sure that that strategy around intelligent enterprise content management goes hand in hand with emerging capabilities around cloud management," Shrestha said. Central to that approach is "ensuring capabilities around information, security and privacy; allowing for responsible data governance across all of the content; and allowing for more scalable economic models that cloud-based capabilities would bring to the table." 

Additionally, look at storage. When it comes to where and how to store medical images, the cloud has emerged as either an alternative or complement to on-premises VNA systems. A major benefit of the cloud for VNAs and other medical imaging modalities is that it offers scalability -- a necessity considering some medical images can be 1 GB or more. For imaging-intensive specialties like radiology, image files can quickly eat up existing storage space. For those organizations that aren't quite ready to fully leap into the cloud, a hybrid model offers a safe middle ground.

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