Value-Based Care and Industry Consolidation Driving Demand for Vendor Neutral Archives

After investing in health information technology for several years, the healthcare industry has found itself mired in digital data today, and in the years to come.

Indeed, in 2016, IDC, in collaboration with Dell EMC, projected that healthcare stakeholders will produce 2,314 exabytes of data by 2020, a significant increase over the 153 exabytes generated in 2013.

This data growth comes during a time of major transformation around both the delivery of healthcare services, and the way that providers are reimbursed. In the value-based care environment, where payment is tied to clinical efficiency and patient outcomes, healthcare data fragmentation is problematic. Clinicians need access to more data sources and analytics to generate insights and determine the most efficacious treatment for their patients.

The challenge of this evolving industry is that today’s health IT infrastructures were not architected and deployed in a way that streamlines data sharing even within a single institution.

Until recently, healthcare organizations deployed diagnostics tools to meet the needs of individual departments. These isolated projects included localized storage infrastructure, leading to the creation of a new data silo with each additional deployment.  This approach subsequently complicated the task of compiling a complete digital picture of a patient’s health from disparate information sources.

The continued rise in hospital mergers and acquisitions adds further complexity, as healthcare IT systems undergo consolidation. Pressure to better manage costs and significantly improve the patient experience has led providers towards consolidation, but it has not always been easy for merging organizations to synthesize their data along with their administrative operations.

Siloed Infrastructure Unable to Provide a 360-Degree Patient View to Clinicians

Traditional IT infrastructure – and in particular, storage architectures supporting existing and new modalities – represent a significant roadblock for providers seeking an integrated workflow across departments.

Legacy workflows, infrastructures, and storage architectures are not designed to support a 360-degree view of the patient, nor can they handle the accelerated growth of medical imaging data that will eventually feed machine learning and artificial intelligence models geared towards providing clinical decision support.

Historically, if you had three PACS, a physician wanting to look at a patient’s images across all systems would technically have to open three different viewers, log in three different times and search for the patient three different ways. Then the physician would need to manually look at and process the images, and assemble them in their head.

VNA’s Ensure Reliable Access to the Right Data at the Right Time

Fortunately, a solution to healthcare workflow integration for medical imaging does exist in the form of the vendor-neutral archive (VNA). A storage infrastructure that does not require a redesign every time an organization adds new data sources or makes workflow adjustments can significantly improve efficiency and IT agility, offering enhanced insights and more reliable access to the right data at the right time.

Migrating these files to new storage systems during an architecture upgrade, for example, can be a complicated project. Most organizations undertake this type of periodic refresh process every three to five years to prevent hardware failures and upgrade infrastructure capabilities. As organizations generate and store more medical imaging data, the project can get more complex and costly each time.

A VNA can prevent data gaps by managing all updates to DICOM files and pointers, drastically reducing the burdens and costs of this critical process.

A VNA also allows a healthcare organization to integrate viewing capabilities and storage with other health IT solutions regardless of its specific PACS application vendor, and its automated data reconciliation capabilities will result in less time spent on ensuring that healthcare providers are able to retrieve the data they need to make informed decisions.

Ultimately, provider organizations should seek to create future-proof infrastructure that is flexible enough to support a broad range of anticipated performance demands, including advanced data analytics, expansion into private, hybrid, or public clouds, and constantly changing clinical workflows.

The VNA is a foundational component of a healthcare ecosystem predicated on efficiency and quality. The challenge remains making preparations for a VNA deployment and choosing the right strategy for the successful launch of a new system.

To achieve these goals, organizations may wish to partner with infrastructure development vendors who can help them to scale their architecture without downtime and consolidate without detracting from day-to-day performance while reducing or eliminating the burdens of future migrations.

Value-based care and provider consolidation are driving healthcare organizations to reevaluate the status of their current resources, especially health information. While some health systems and hospitals have the financial capital for a VNA deployment, others may have to consider a phased approach. In either case, a business imperative is driving medical imaging integration with other health IT systems to ensure that physicians are making care decisions based on the most pertinent, complete, and timely patient data.

For more information on Dell EMC’s Vendor Neutral Archiving solution, download our white paper here.

About the Author: James Han

James is the Sr. Manager for Healthcare Business Development & Alliances for the Storage Division based in Seattle, WA. He joined Dell EMC in early 2013. James has over 15 years in various strategy and product development roles in Healthcare IT organization such as GE, 3M and Microsoft focused on analytics, Health Information Exchange, medical imaging, structured reporting, and speech recognition.