Friday, May 1, 2009

Is VNA in your DNA?

The more I read about Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) solutions the more I become convinced that there is mass confusion about the subject. It is almost as bad as the "meaningful use" definitions that are going to decide whether or not an EMR will qualify for future certification. 

I believe there is an opportunity for the IHE to deliver clear definitions of VNA actor and transaction behaviors. In addition, the interface between a VNA image database and archive needs to be clearly defined. 

Also, despite several attempts, a VNA standard for internal archiving format has yet to be determined. This means that several vendors store data in a proprietary format, which is the antithesis of vendor neutral. 

Here's some of my key requirements for a VNA:
  • It must be patient-centric. This means that all the information about a particular patient should be available, not just data from radiology, or cardiology, or whatever.
  • It should be truly multimedia, covering not only images but waveforms, reports, structured reports with measurements, voice files, and MPEG's for the video captures from endoscopes and laparoscopes.
  • There should be no place for proprietary data formats.
  • Synchronization between multiple institutions should be possible using IHE standards for patient queries, and the reconciliation of multiple patient ID’s is a critical part of this.
There are more requirements that I am going to cover in a future white paper. However, if you are in the market for a PACS today, I would recommend paying close attention to the archive structure of the systems under consideration as “VNA” is still only a term, not a standard.