The evolution of technology is fascinating. Just think about music. Fifteen years ago CDs were how you accessed music and now, you can listen to music anywhere, instantaneously from tiny devices. The population has embraced the change, so why has accepting change in healthcare been so slow and difficult?
I’m not saying we all need to be on the bleeding edge of innovation, but it’s important to remove tunnel vision and recognize advances not just in diagnostic medicine or medical research, but also in health IT innovations that make things faster, easier and less costly. I was surprised when I read a recent report on enterprise imaging that their research and results was limited only to organizations with a Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) or Universal Viewer (UV) technologies.
While this report got it half right, VNA and UV solutions don’t fit the needs of every organization. If facilities are going to advance the quality of care, then it’s time to accept new and nimble health IT solutions for enterprise imaging that bring patient images to people’s fingertips as swiftly and securely as the cloud delivers your favorite song.
Cloud-based Image Exchange: Over the last few years, cloud-based image exchanges have gained popularity for enterprise imaging. A HIMSS Analytics Cloud Survey showed that 83% of healthcare organizations used cloud-based apps in 2014. While this simpler approach isn’t the same as a VNA, it achieves the same overall goals – often more efficiently. Facilities can be running on a cloud-based image exchange in just two weeks and have central access to all necessary images – anywhere, anytime.
Vendor Neutral Archives History Lesson
VNAs are one of the oldest imaging technologies. When introduced, they finally allowed healthcare sites to collect pictures from all departments in one location, and exchange that information with a broader audience. But what about patient care happening elsewhere and other types of patient data beyond images like reports from other physician consultations? Today, it’s critical to share information with other facilities – not just other departments. In addition, the shift to value-based care means healthcare organizations require quick, efficient technology that follows patients across a continuum, which takes more than just sending an image from point A to B.
VNAs can take up to two years to implement, and are expensive. Further, since they don’t encapsulate all of a patient’s data, sites need to use them in connection with other solutions to have a complete enterprise imaging strategy.
Cloud-based imaging provides more than the seamless sharing of images. It delivers real value and efficiencies like capturing and sharing all relevant patient data; just like the cloud allows you to access music, videos and playlists effortlessly between your phone, laptop and tablet. Which is why I’m perplexed that society openly welcomes this technology in our lives, but accepting technology that can make life saving differences has proved to be so challenging. The time to embrace is now. If not, I fear that we will only continue set back an industry that so desperately needs to move forward.