Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has procured a vendor neutral archive from BridgeHead Software as it prepares to replace its picture archiving and communications system.

The trust says the procurement is part of a wider image management strategy to replace its existing PACS contract, which expires in June 2015.

Dzinja Kabambe, Homerton’s head of strategic IT projects, told EHI that implementing the VNA has allowed the trust greater freedom when choosing its replacement PACS, as the archive can support all major providers.

Having the VNA in place also provides security if there are any issues with the deployment of the new PACS, he said.

“This way, we know we’ve got the images stored, and we know we can use them directly from the VNA if the PACS isn’t working perfectly on day one.”

Kabambe said the trust decided to develop a wider image management strategy for its departments after having issues with the storage for its cardiology images and other internal imaging data.

“We had onerous and manual workarounds of people recording images onto DVDs and so on, and it caused a lot of pain within the IT department.”

The trust had been keeping all of its data within its two on-site data centres, but Kabambe said it will now use the VNA to move data between systems and the hospital’s cloud environment to reduce costs and improve its resilience.

“The big thing that it’s enabling us to do is to be flexible with storage. With the data in the cloud, it enables us to be more flexible as opposed to keeping it all on site.”

Kabambe said radiology images will be the first to be stored in the VNA, with the trust also likely to use the system for its cardiology and fertility images.

The VNA will also be able to handle non-imaging files and make it easier for the trust to share data with neighbouring trust and other care providers, although he said exactly what data will be shared is currently  a “slight unknown”.

“We wanted to ensure we have a way of sharing the underlying data in a format that any PACS can consume.”

The trust will start moving images into the VNA at the end of the month, and plans to complete the work by November so it can move across to its new PACS.

Kabambe said the trust is finalising its agreement with its preferred PACS supplier, with an announcement expected very soon.

BridgeHead CEO Jim Beagle told EHI the decision to choose a VNA before a PACS will give the trust greater flexibility and ensure its imaging data is safe during the transition.

“We applaud it, because it’s a great approach in terms of putting data at the core of what they do.”

Beagle said the company is working with the trust to implement the VNA and start moving images across.