Radiologists have traditionally used picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) to manage and share their medical images. These systems have had their ups and downs, but in the end they've proven to have a plethora of practical issues, particularly when it comes to user training, scalability and integration with existing health information systems. That's why more organizations are turning to enterprise image management and vendor neutral archives.

During the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine 2014 conference, health care and information technology professionals turned their attention toward the great advancements of IT in radiology. According to Diagnostic Imaging, the growing prevalence of electronic medical records has spurred a demand from clinicians in other departments for access to radiology files. As Rady Children's Hospital chief information officer Albert Oriol said, this desire for inter-operation is what's pushing the shift to all-inclusive EIM systems.

"Doing that when all of these systems are one-of-a-kind and managed independently becomes really complex, really expensive, really quick, so that drives some of the convergence," Oriol said at the conference.

But many radiology departments are still afraid to open up access, largely due to fear of a loss of control with the increased security that EIM provides and the increased reliance on IT professionals using this streamlined technology. However, these two departments can do great things in the world of clinical archiving when they work together, which Oriol emphasized to radiologists during the conference.

"[Y]ou guys are the experts, and while IT might have the expertise on managing databases and managing storage and doing the hardcore technology, that understanding of how the workflows function, how things that work in one area can be leveraged in another … is priceless," Oriol said.

The transition to an enterprise focus can also deter radiologists. Making the change isn't always easy, but it pays off in the long run - enterprise image management can accommodate many different departments and organizations. Additionally, VNA companies can help make the transition easier, providing software solutions, training and support. Oriol's recommendation to those organizations making the change is to think of the process as an evolution and to move at a pace that's suitable for your facility.

News brought to you by TeraMedica, Inc., leaders in healthcare enterprise imaging (VNA) solutions.