PACS versus Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) first Architecture

When thinking about VNA’s, most people in the radiology industry believe it to be a simple, backend, long-term storage solution to keep all the imaging data from all modalities in a safe place. They believe the VNA to be a support system to the front-end PACS that most of the staff and clinical team deal with every day. This mindset is a PACS-first enterprise imaging architecture.

Healthcare is evolving, and as the government, the people, and healthcare facilities push for more interoperability, PACS-first architecture is not evolving with the times and cannot stand any longer.

What if instead of PACS-first, facilities began with a VNA-first architecture. All the data from the modalities, the PACS, pathology, reports, AI, 3D reconstruction, and more can be stored in one location. From this location, radiology, cardiology, referring physicians, patients, AI (Artificial Intelligence), clinical research and others can access all the data without impacting the network traffic for the radiologists so they maintain quick access from PACS. The VNA is a source of more than just PACS data, with built-in rules and routing to provide access to more than just radiology. With a mass of data stored in a single location, users outside of radiology can benefit from the data. Using a VNA to image enable the EHR provides even more access to other physicians without impacting any departmental PACS performance. For this reason, the PACS vendor and the VNA vendor should be separate. Is a VNA truly “vendor neutral” when using the same vendor? If you decide to switch PACS, would they let you keep the VNA? Is that a separate contract? PACS is built for clinical workflow, for viewing images, and for generating reports. VNA’s are built for security, for mass storage, and now for enabling clinical teams outside of radiology to utilize the important imaging data.

Why you need InsiteOne Lifeline VNA Service?

Over two-thirds of all healthcare facilities said they have experienced ransomware attacks in 2021, and 2022 is already experiencing a 94% increase in the number of ransomware attacks (link). The state of healthcare is under attack from cyber criminals globally, and it is looking more likely that at some point every healthcare facility may have to deal with the repercussions of an attack.

There are numerous ways of countering ransomware, from firewalls to employee training. However, once an attack is made aware, it is too late. So how does a facility recover from an attack? Healthcare needs to maintain an off-site, disaster recovery archive, or fully redundant, off-line system workflow. What this could look like is an exact replica copy of your imaging set-up, including PACS, viewers and dictation, at an off-site location that is kept off-line except in need of disaster. When a ransomware attack or any other disaster that shuts down your on-line systems occurs, turn on the off-site cloud replica.

Since all the data is now held in ransom, the VNA can be turned to online access as well to provide the imaging data for the back-up PACS. In theory, a completely redundant system is now made available to the imaging staff with full copies of data as well. Any on-site modalities can push their imaging directly to the off-site VNA until the main system is brought back on-line, and the VNA can push those images back to the on-site datacenter as well for recovery.

The main benefit experienced here is a full, back-up system that can consolidate all of the imaging data and be turned on-line the moment it is needed. This will save lives, reduce the cost of ransomware attacks, and soften the disruption from disasters.