Buyer's Handbook:

What to look for when buying an enterprise imaging platform

Think on how clinical imaging systems, EHRs will integrate in future

A colleague recently relayed a story about caring for her ill mother, which included a mind-bending tale of carrying medical image files on CD-ROMs from one specialist's office to another.

In 2017, keeping images on hard discs doesn't sound nearly as nostalgic as enjoying music on vinyl records. Clearly in some cases, healthcare facilities have a desperate need to modernize clinical imaging systems.

For many providers, a likely approach to medical imaging involves some variant of a vendor neutral archive (VNA). The latest SearchHealthIT buyer's handbook starts from that assumption, as contributor Reda Chouffani explains what hospitals must consider as they craft or update their enterprise imaging strategies.

One of those considerations struck a chord with me: Would-be buyers should give extra points to clinical imaging systems that can hop between different electronic health record (EHR) technologies. It's in the name of having easy access to all of a patient's images, regardless of whether they come from a hospital ER, physician's office or a rehabilitation clinic.

Thinking years ahead, I have to wonder whether EHR vendors will attempt to take over the market from clinical imaging systems sellers and thus insert themselves into overall buying decisions for image technology.

Already, medical image data interacts in some form with EHRs. But could the entire spectrum of medical imaging revolve around an EHR system? I'm neither a health IT user nor a fortune teller, so the answer isn't at my feet, but we all have seen the influence of EHR companies across various healthcare departments.

Given that scenario, it may also be important for today's health IT buyers to think about how deeply their current clinical imaging systems could integrate with EHRs should technologies shift again in the future.