Vendor-Neutral Archive? Or Archive-Neutral Vendor?

August 24, 2012

The future of image storage will depend upon some type of neutrality. Whether that storage is PACS neutral or archive neutral depends on facility preference.

From all corners of the industry, the consensus is that the future of image storage will depend upon some type of neutrality. Whether that storage is PACS neutral or archive neutral depends on a facility’s preferences.

A recent report from health care technology research company KLAS revealed that more than 50 percent of all industry providers were considering either a vendor-neutral archive (VNA) or a PACS enterprise imaging strategy, also referred to as archive-neutral vendors, for their next image storing move.

“Image storage is a necessity, no matter what option is chosen,” Ben Brown, imaging research director and report author, said in a written statement. “As providers start to bring in more studies and the studies themselves increase in size, the need for storage will increase. In addition, as a provider explained, images will need to be managed, as well as stored.”

There is one main difference between these two tools. With a VNA, customers have an archive that can seamlessly migrate their data between PACS vendors. With the PACS enterprise option, providers supply their own archive option while maintaining their current PACS.

According to Paul Chang, MD, radiology professor and vice chair of radiology informatics at the University of Chicago, the PACS enterprise imaging strategy has emerged because PACS manufacturers want to retain their market share. In doing so, these vendors make their PACS compatible with a multitude of archiving solutions available on the market.

This trend is still in its infancy, but several vendors, including GE and Philips, are already working toward an archive-neutral option. Fuji has also entered the playing field. Merge and TeraMedica are leading names associated with VNAs.

Regardless of the storage solution selected, however, sharing images across the medical industry is now expected and necessary, Chang said. Both VNAs and PACS enterprise imaging strategies are the next step forward in image management.