Competition Intensifies in the Vendor-Neutral Archives Market
Vendor-neutral archives (VNAs) have finally moved to the forefront of healthcare IT spending after years of debate of the value of keeping image data separate from picture archiving and communications (PACS) applications. As demand for VNA grows, the market is attracting a host of suppliers with a range of product types and strategies. This is according to new VNA thought leadership paper from InMedica and media website plus, recently acquired by IHS, Inc (NYSE: IHS) and is based on InMedica’s report, World Market for Medical Enterprise Data Storage – 2012.
A challenge for PACS suppliers in the VNA market is to prove the ability to deliver a non-proprietary, standards-based approach to archiving that gives healthcare providers control of their data without being locked in to their PACS.
Figure 1. From PACS to Departmental VNA - North American Installed Base by Vendor. Note- Size of bubble represents PACS Installed Base in North America.
Agfa Healthcare, Carestream Health, GE Healthcare and Merge Healthcare have all developed VNA products, either in-house, or through acquisitions. These suppliers were earlier-to-market with their VNA products, driving market leadership. Of these, GE Healthcare has the largest share of departmental archives in North America, while Merge, Carestream and Agfa have established a stronger position in cross-departmental, multi-PACS enterprise archives.
Other PACS vendors tend to partner with VNA providers: Fujifilm and Philips Healthcare have partnered Acuo Technologies; Siemens Healthcare has partnered with Dell.
Independent Software Vendors (ISV)
Independent software vendors (ISV) are who those that have a proprietary VNA product, but not a proprietary PACS. These suppliers have emerged from outside of the PACS market to meet the some of the challenges created by departmentalized data silos.
The leading ISV’s in the VNA market are Acuo Technologies, Dell, Dejarnette Research Systems and Teramedica. These tend to focus on cross-departmental access to data rather than on the storage of specific departmental data.
Over 80 percent of VNA studies in North America in 2011 were from managing DICOM images in multiple departments or at multiple hospital sites, reflecting that current demand is driven by the need to consolidate images and reduce image migration costs. However, as VNA penetration increases, so too will demand for larger integration of non-DICOM and non-image data.
By 2016, XDS-based VNA is projected to account for 30 percent of VNA studies; VNA suppliers, who currently provide full XDS document registry and XDS repository features in their VNA, are well positioned to benefit from this shift in demand.
Figure 2. From Departmental to Enterprise VNA - North American Installed Base by Vendor. Note - Size of bubble represents Enterprise VNA Installed Base in North America. Arrow indicates projected direction of growth in installed base.
As demand for VNA grows and healthcare providers seek better control of their data, PACS suppliers are well positioned to increase their departmental VNA installed base by providing VNA to their radiology PACS customers. The bigger challenge for them is to meet the needs of healthcare providers across departments.
Independent VNA vendors have a greater presence in enterprise than departmental VNAs as they focus more on cross-departmental access to images and other forms of data. As VNAs are increasingly used for this purpose, they are projected to increase their presence further.
For healthcare providers, it is encouraging that VNAs are an increasing priority for PACS vendors; the availability of ISVs also increases the options available. As the issue swiftly moves from “whether or not to adopt a VNA” to “which VNA to adopt,” it is up to vendors to prove their ability to meet the most important VNA adoption requirements: reduced storage costs, reduced migration costs, enhanced image sharing, synchronized cross-departmental workflow, enhanced business continuity and enhanced non-image data sharing.
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