A new report from a US-based research firm predicts strong demand for vendor neutral archives over the next few years.

The IMS Research report, ‘Medical Enterprise Data Storage – World – 2013’ claims that “the migration to VNA has been the biggest trend in the healthcare IT market for the past 18 months.”

Shane Walker, senior manager for consumer and digital health research at IHS, said: “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.”

VNAs enable images and documents to be accessed in a standard format, making it possible to share images between different PACS used in the same hospital and to share other non-structured data such as documents.

The report says that demand for improved interoperability is growing at a departmental level and that in radiology and cardiology in particular, PACS images are increasingly being migrated into VNAs.

It predicts that dermatology images, endoscopy videos and sleep and gait analysis studies are likely to be seen as the next types of departmental image information suitable for migration.

The five-year VNA study forecasts growth at 990% for Europe, Middle East and Africa, 220% for the Americas and 1,960% for Asia Pacific.

The demand for image sharing is strong in Western Europe, the report says, because of the growing belief that interoperable care could improve efficiency, not only between departments, but also between healthcare providers.

In the US, however, the complexity of the healthcare system means there is little demand for image-sharing between healthcare providers.

To date, non-DICOM files, such as JPEGs, TIFFs, PDFs, MPEG videos and WAV audio, have had little influence in the VNA market, but this is expected to change as the demand for interoperable patient care increases, the report says.

This would offer a “wealth” of new migration opportunities for VNA and healthcare information technology vendors, it adds.