By Devin Partida, technology writer and the Editor-in-Chief of the digital magazine, ReHack.com
The healthcare industry, like many other sectors today, is becoming increasingly digitized and data-driven. This transition into a digital landscape comes with various benefits but can complicate some matters as well. As medical trends lean toward digitization, solutions for accessibility and interoperability are essential.
On average, healthcare organizations manage 8.41 petabytes of data, up 878% since just four years ago. At the same time, most of these organizations experience at least one data disruption a year. The medical industry needs better data management, and vendor neutral archives (VNAs) provide it.
VNAs give medical facilities an interoperable solution for data access. Here’s a closer look at how these solutions are changing the industry.
Increasing Data Accessibility
VNAs are one of the most promising healthcare trends today because they address one of traditional systems’ most glaring flaws — inaccessibility. A VNA is an archiving system that stores and consolidates data from across all departments in a facility. Thanks to their neutrality, VNAs can store nearly any kind of file and work on any system.
Vendor-specific systems make it challenging for staff to access data from different departments. With these approaches, doctors have to use various platforms to view different files, which can take precious time. The time doctors spend trying to access all the different data they need is time spent away from tending to patients.
VNAs, on the other hand, provide a single viewing experience for all image formats. This ease of access enables doctors to save time, which, in the medical industry, can save lives.
Efficiency isn’t the only benefit of this emerging medical trend, either. The cohesion and consolidation of a VNA cut down on conversion-related and transfer errors, which can be severe in the healthcare field. With medical error being the third leading cause of death in the U.S., avoiding these flaws is essential.
Technical errors aside, traditional archiving systems can lead to mistakes from an inability to see the whole picture. With a VNA, doctors can view everything at once, giving them a more cohesive view of a patient’s situation. They can then proceed to treat them in a manner that best fits their needs.
Doctors don’t need to be proficient in various systems to understand different data with VNAs. This improvement in accuracy is likely why 40% of top hospitals rely on this technology.
Maintaining Legacy Records
As hospitals adapt to new medical trends like digitization and the cloud, they might struggle with older data. The variety of tools in a facility already produces diverse file types, but legacy records add another layer of complication. Vendor-specific systems may not be able to function with obsolete file types, but VNAs can account for them.
Hospitals need to store patient records for five years or more in almost every state. To ensure these records remain intact and accessible, facilities need to include a disaster recovery plan for their data. Institutions like Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) have turned to VNAs for their disaster recovery.
Using a VNA, CCHMC was able to transfer a copy of their legacy data at an off-site data center. That way, if something were to happen to the hospital’s electronics, they would still have backups of all patient files. As more medical facilities move to a cloud storage solution, the interoperability of VNAs becomes crucial for storing legacy records.
Better Data Governance Is Critical to Digitized Healthcare
As the world moves toward digitization, organizations have to be careful not to sacrifice anything in the transition. What makes VNAs one of the most promising healthcare trends is how they offer a scalable, versatile solution for digitization. In an industry as sensitive as medicine, these types of solutions are invaluable.