Croydon Health Services NHS Trust has gone with SynApps Solutions to provide a vendor neutral archive to store data, beginning with X-ray images.

The deal comes five months after the trust renewed its core picture archiving and communication system contract with Sectra.

According to SynApps, the VNA content management system will build on Sectra’s PACS, enabling the trust to share content more effectively across different departments and giving clinicians easier access to radiology data.

The new system replaces Croydon Health Services’ PACS approach implemented under the National Programme for IT.

The trust’s chief clinical information officer, Tony Newman-Sanders, explained that the trust was keen to use the opportunity of re-procuring its PACS in order to “do it all better second time around”.

Speaking to Digital Health News, Newman-Sanders said that one of the key factors in going with a VNA was the trust “wanted to get data in a standard format”.

“It was a no-brainer really,” he said, saying that NPfIT had failed to deliver on a lot of things it had hoped for. “For individual organisations this isn’t really a re-procurement, it’s more a first procurement.”

Newman-Sanders added that the trust decision to go with SynApps' VNA was influenced by the decision of nearby Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to go with the system in December 2013.

“We thought it would be easier for all south west London trusts to be on the same platform. But we were also very impressed with way SynApps responded and their technical engagement.”

Storing data in a non-proprietary format will also benefit another key area of importance for Croydon Health Services – the ability to share patient images with other healthcare providers. This was not possible under its previous system.

Newman-Sanders said the VNA makes use of Sectra PACS to integrate with Croydon Health Services’ electronic patient record Cerner Millennium, which the trust installed in October 2013 and has since expanded.

“The pathology system is completely integrated. Staff just need to click on a cloud viewer button in the EPR to access the PACS.”

Newman-Sanders added that the trust stuck with Sectra as its PACS in order to “keep things simple”.

“Our customers for PACS are internal, and they were happy with Sectra. This deal offered maximum continuity.”

The VNA will begin to store both archive and new X-ray images in June 2015, with future plans to host other imaging files, including cardiology, obstetric ultrasound, videos of arthroscopies from theatre, endoscopy and medical photography.

Croydon Health Services also has plans for the VNA to host other forms of data, including structured and unstructured medical documents.

Newman-Sanders said the plan is to store data of “anything that would otherwise be sitting a folder in a desk”.

He also said he expects the use of a VNA to change the behaviour of doctors, such as choosing to shoot longer video loops during surgery as there will not be limited by space.

The announcement at Croydon Health Services comes one month after Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust said it had bought SynApps Solutions’ VNA to replace a contract it had with Accenture to store images in a central data store.

SynApps’ VNA is also in place at other trusts including The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and is being implemented at Kingston Hospital.