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15 attributes of a true vendor neutral archive

We’ve made this list for VNA planning and selection – be sure to check it twice

The implementation of a vendor neutral archive (VNA) eliminates data silos, cuts costs and facilitates data sharing by streamlining integration to the PACS and EMR. To achieve these benefits it is vital you choose a truly independent VNA. This checklist highlights the essential attributes, qualifications and functionality to consider when selecting your VNA solution partner.

1.       PACS aggregation and federation: The VNA should be able to aggregate query results from multiple disparate PACS or locations.

2.       Dynamic DICOM tag morphing: Confirm that the product will perform on-the-fly conversion/ mapping of data elements in a DICOM header in support of data exchange between PACS. It should use a “self-learning” library of DICOM conformance.

3.       Pre-fetching/auto-routing (point to multi-point): Make sure the system will perform HL7 or DICOM modality work list (DMWL) enabled pre-fetching of relevant prior data being managed by the VNA and auto-routing of that data to the appropriate department PACS, either directly or through the local VNA facility cache.

4.       Support for DICOM and non-DICOM content: The solution should offer full conformance with latest DICOM SOP classes (SCU and SCP). The VNA should be able to ingest non-DICOM content and make it available in native format to the originating system.

5.        Multi-site DICOM and non-DICOM support: The system should support a distributed high-availability model when appropriate. Remote sites with connectivity limitations should have local access to clinical content and the system should dynamically synchronize when connectivity is restored.

6.       Enterprise XDS capabilities: Look for automated creation and publishing to an XDS repository of XDS-I manifests for all data objects ingested by the VNA. This helps establish the framework for image sharing with ACOs and HIEs. 

7.       Data migration engine: Make sure the product you are evaluating includes built-in software for use in future migrations. Also, ensure that during migration it allows access to prior studies in the legacy archive (federation) as the new system is coming online. This will greatly ease the migration process.

8.       Data integrity: The system should perform synchronized updating of metadata (patient/study level changes) through a journalized approach within the actual image data. Make sure it allows for automated disaster recovery should the database become unavailable as the database and image content sync. The journal can be used as a historical audit of when, what and how metadata content was changed.

9.     Storage abstraction: The solution should be able to support API level integrated connectivity to multiple storage vendor platforms. In addition, the VNA should support on-premise, hybrid or cloud storage architecture.

10.   Intelligent clinical information lifecycle management (ILM) methodology: Your chosen solution should facilitate data movement and retention, both internal and external to the system, based on clinical metadata associated with the study such as date, type, patient age and more. Make sure the solution will provide a separate ILM strategy for each organizational node/database (facility or department). Look for automated, user-defined data purge capabilities.

11.   Hardware independence: Make sure the system is server hardware independent, has primary and secondary mirrored subsystems and provides for active-active or active-passive modes with automated failover and automated reconciliation between multiple subsystems. Check for the ability to support VMware and virtual IP configurations.

12.   Viewer independence: The VNA should be able to support a variety of different viewing technologies since viewing needs can differ for various roles within the organization.

13.   RIS updates: The VNA should spread updates received from RIS or via manual update to all destinations that received studies in order for all available patient information to stay in sync.

14.   Experience in implementation of VNA solutions: Look for an organization with at least 10 years of experience archiving and migrating studies in a vendor neutral format from multiple PACS vendor systems

15.    No future migrations of archived studies: When using standards for ingesting and storing data, the VNA vendor should not require a migration of the archived study data in their system due to a software upgrade, new platform or storage media.