By Kim Garriott.
UCLA and UCSF have implemented a common enterprise imaging (EI) platform that enables the secure acquisition, management, sharing, and retention of medical images—regardless of type (think digital photos, point of care ultrasound, scope, and others).
“Sharing this platform provides for many advantages,” said Tom Andriola UC’s Systemwide CIO. “One of these being that we now have a centralized repository, a vendor neutral archive, for the long-term retention of all medical image data. Images can be stored long term at the lowest possible cost, shared for research purposes, or used for ground-breaking AI algorithm development efforts. All this synergy is helping bring greater value to UC Health and the individual health systems.”
What is a vendor neutral archive (VNA)? It is the primary, long-term retention (storage) component of the EI platform. Standards based, the VNA helps to make images accessible to the entire care team, regardless of what proprietary system created the images. Such standardization has become the norm for organizations that generate large volumes of medical images from a variety of image-producing departments.
Given that these images are created in many different departments, usually with technology platforms that come from different vendors, it has traditionally been a real challenge to create an environment where images are freely accessible. While VNA doesn’t solve every pain for information exchange, it certainly moves the mark towards robust interoperability.
At present, the UC medical centers all utilize different image management systems. So in 2015, when UCSF began looking into the possibilities of choosing an EI platform, it soon became apparent that the technology would have tremendous benefit for all the health systems. As a result, all five UC medical centers joined forces in a major procurement process to select an EI partner.
Ilayaraja Elangovan, manager of Ancillary Systems and Support at UCLA and program manager of UC Health Enterprise Imaging, is one of the key architects of the collaboration. He said, “It was a challenge to develop the functional and technological requirements and conduct the vendor selection and contract negotiation with multiple campuses. But we had tremendous support from the CIOs that helped keep the process on track.”
By purchasing the platform together, not only did the medical centers set the stage for collaboration on patient care, but they also received significantly better pricing than if each organization had sourced a VNA each on its own. After a lengthy design and implementation, UCSF and UCLA went live on the platform in early 2018.
Elangovan is proud that the EI foundation projects were successful. It provides another positive example of the health systems working collaboratively together as a UC team. Each campus is in the process of implementing a variety of use-case based projects on this core foundation.
Kim Garriott is principal consultant, Logicalis, Inc., and works on the VNA project for UCSF