Vendor-Neutral Archive (VNA) & PACS

Vendor-Neutral Archive (VNA) & PACS

In this blog, I will be touching on improved data sharing and interoperability capabilities within the NHS and Private Healthcare organisations.

The end goal for the whole of healthcare is patient care, regardless of whether or not the patient lives locally or has been seen previously by the consulting doctors or supporting staff.

In my opinion, the most viable option is a system which houses the patients' full case history along with the results of their most recent test results, including MRI, CT and X-ray images. This, in turn, will enable clinicians to achieve greater patient outcomes across a combination of services.

The standard way of holding an image file digitally is in a dedicated Picture Archiving and CommunicationsSystem (PACS). This allows individual departments, such as radiology, cardiology, dental and pathology, to manage digital images and share data within their own territory.

However, to improve data sharing and interoperability capabilities, many organisations have now turned to VNAs, which have been specifically developed to address some of the most significant shortfalls of a PACS, Trusts will need to be able to make their content accessible on a wider scale, meaning critical images can be reviewed by any authorised physician in any department anywhere in the country.

Is change needed?

Well, one major limitation of PACS is that they are unable to reliably exchange content with non-compatible systems, both internally within departments, and with other Trusts.

"If you have three PACS systems, 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.

Another argument is whether hospitals really need both a VNA and a PACS. If a PACS system can do double upas VNA and PACS.

So, what doVNAs offer?

There are two major interoperability issues caused by PACS that are solved with a VNA.

The first is the clinicians' ability to continue reading files when a Trust has switched PACS vendors at the end of a contract.

The second; the ability to share data among multiple departments within the same Trust.

VNA allows images and content to be viewed seamlessly, regardless of the PACS vendor implemented or which department the information is coming from. This can significantly reduce the cost and time of data migration, once the initial VNA is installed, of course.

What are the challenges?

There is a delaying cost that has restricted the rate to which VNAs are implemented in the NHS, despite the benefits of implementing being apparent. The major cost involved, however, is the migrating from a PACS to a VNA, which can be an expensive and difficult process.

This cost is also increasing with time, as the longer NHS Trusts delay the migration of their data to a VNA, the greater the amount of data needed to be migrated. This, inevitably, means the costs are set to continue to rise year upon year.


Despite the costs involved with the initial implementation of a VNA, the realisation in the need to improve the exchange of information in the NHS is driving Trusts into looking at the option as a solution for the future.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

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