Medical image storage driving exponential growth for vendor neutral
12 September 2013
High growth in medical data storage in vendor-neutral archive
(VNA) systems will drive strong demand for VNA solutions over the
next five years, according to a report from market analysts IHS.
VNA is a general term for networked storage systems in which
images and documents are archived in a standard format so they can
be accessed by any computer system.
According to the IHS report entitled Medical Enterprise Data
Storage — World — 2013, growth largely will be driven by the
migration of picture archiving and communication system (PACS)
images to VNA. In addition, other imaging departments are also
adopting the concept of VNA interoperability.
The Asia-Pacific has been identified as a high-growth region,
with the annual VNA study volume growth estimated at 83.3%. This is
predominantly due to legislation and increasing support for
interoperable care between departments and healthcare provider sites
in Asia during the next five years.
“The migration to VNA has been the biggest trend in the
healthcare IT market for the past 18 months,” said Shane Walker,
senior manager for consumer and digital health research at IHS. “VNA
is set to be at the forefront of how all hospitals manage their
patient images during the next decade. The technology is moving
beyond its initial goal of simply managing PACS images. Instead,
migration of PACS to VNA also is leading to the establishment of
solutions for non-PACS departmental information, thereby shaping the
future of how all information is shared and stored in healthcare.”
The management of images is becoming more important. The key
objective is to share images between physicians in multiple regions,
and even countries, irrespective of vendor or location.
Taking Australia as an example, with its six states and multiple
territories, vendors seek to provide state-level solutions in order
to improve the interoperability of care. A similar approach is being
taken in countries such as China at a provincial level, albeit at a
slower rate compared to Australia’s VNA adoption.
At a healthcare provider level, all hospital departments using
image archives have a growing need for VNA software that
accommodates their imaging needs, which include both image sharing
and providing business continuity. Although VNAs have served these
needs so far, demand for improved interoperability is growing at a
departmental level for image sharing.
Radiology and Cardiology are well ahead in this area, with PACS
images increasingly migrating into VNAs. Dermatology images,
endoscopy videos and sleep and gait analysis studies are touted as
the next types of departmental image information suitable for
To date, non-DICOM files (a standard for radiology images) — such
as JPEGs, TIFFs, PDFs, MPEG videos and WAV audio — although falling
within the VNA definition by IHS, have had little influence in the
VNA market. However, with ever-increasing requirements for
interoperable patient care within hospitals, the DICOM world is set
to propagate beyond PACS, offering a wealth of new migration
opportunities for VNA and healthcare information technology vendors.
Pathology, dermatology and ophthalmology departments are making
significant attempts to follow in the footsteps of the PACS world.
Changes at a departmental level in these areas to adopt VNA
platforms will be a major factor for growth of study volumes in the
The major challenges for image sharing between healthcare
providers vary by region. In the United States for example, the
prospect of a patient’s image being used and followed up on by
another healthcare professional in another institution is unlikely,
due to the inherent complexity of the US healthcare system and
On the other hand, Western Europe has an opposing view in that
interoperable care will drastically improve clinical workflow
efficiency, not only between departments, but also between
Regional and even international sharing of healthcare image data
is increasingly likely with wider VNA adoption. This is highlighted
by the strong prediction for VNA study growth, with the five-year
growth forecast at 990% for the EMEA region, 220% for the Americas
and 1,960% the Asia Pacific region.