In my previous article, I examined the legacy IT system challenge and how they are not only costly to maintain, they are putting your hospital at risk. Now it’s time to count up the number of legacy systems you have in your facility. How many ghosts of PACS, EMRs, ADT and lab reporting systems are still costing you in licensing fees and IT staff time to keep running? Don’t forget those nearly forgotten, cobbled-together connections (APIs) among various IT systems that date back a decade.
The cost of maintaining legacy systems and the potential tangible and intangible costs of a data breach make a strong case for retiring outmoded technology. And when you consider the ability to turn unstructured data into useful information and managing data in a heterogeneous environment, a next-generation vendor-neutral archive (VNA) or application-independent clinical archive (AICA) is making sense to an increasing number of hospitals and health systems.
Here are five reasons a next-generation VNA or AICA should be your data platform choice:
- You’ll make better use of unstructured data. Legacy systems often hang around because staff see no way to migrate unstructured data into current systems. An AICA will include tools to not only migrate this data successfully, but turn it into useful intelligence that becomes part of the patient record. Look for systems that can migrate content from DICOM, HL7 and XDS applications, along with unstructured file repositories.
- You’ll speed future EMR implementations. During an EMR migration, vendors really don’t want to move data that’s more than 12-18 months old—especially if the migration is from a competing company. And even if the health system insists, migrating this older data is quite expensive. So what’s a hospital to do? Migrating that older data to a next-generation VNA or AICA makes it available in the current EMR in the form of a continuity of care document (CCD), available as a clickable link.
- You’ll speed future PACS implementations, too. Because of the volume and increasing fidelity of medical images, PACS represent an estimated 70 percent of a hospital’s data. Hospitals replace PACS every five to seven years, which is a ton of data migration. By moving imaging data into an AICA, providers can ensure that data is stored efficiently and intelligently, as well as preserved using open healthcare data standards. By adhering to open data standards, this will be the last painful PACS migration you will have to perform.
- You can establish a heterogeneous storage environment. An AICA is storage agnostic, working with all manner of media and hardware, regardless of vendor. As the AICA sits between the applications and the storage, it allows you to establish policies that manage your clinical and administrative data. This means that providers can optimize the use of all of the storage hardware across its estate, with greater utilization and delaying expensive storage refreshes.
- You can share data between applications. Retiring legacy systems and creating a heterogeneous storage environment results in a common healthcare data management platform that can facilitate the flow of useful information between IT systems. In fact, these platforms facilitate a pragmatic, measured and supported pathway to the cloud for many hospitals and health systems. This closer coordination makes data sharing easier and more secure.
About the author: Michael has worked in the healthcare industry for more than 20 years managing commercial operations for European and US businesses. He holds a BSc in Life Sciences from Aberdeen University and a PhD in Biochemistry from The University of London.