10 questions to ask your enterprise imaging vendor

2021 05 27 17 58 9629 Computer Digital Hospital 400

If you're looking to add an enterprise imaging platform to your department or practice, asking the right questions of potential vendors can make or break your success, according to a presentation delivered May 25 at the virtual Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) meeting.

Kim Garriott.Kim Garriott.

Enterprise imaging services vary from vendor to vendor, and the needs of a radiology practice or department need can vary as well, said presenter Kim Garriott, chief innovation office at NetApp Healthcare in Sunnyvale, CA. She offered a list of 10 questions to pose to a potential enterprise imaging provider, based on a scenario where a department or practice is seeking to purchase an all-in-one platform.

  1. How does the enterprise imaging platform accommodate orders -- and encounters-based workflows? "I cannot stress enough how important it is to determine what type of workflow support your vendor may provide," she said. "Vendors have worked with many organizations -- consult with them and lean on them."
  2. How does the vendor incorporate AI? What types of inference models are available? "Is your vendor leveraging current AI technology to assist in workflow management and image interpretation?" Garriott asked. "What other types of AI learning models might they support?
  3. How does the enterprise imaging platform manage DICOM and non-DICOM images? "You want to partner with a vendor [with clear understanding] [of what their [image archiving] capabilities are, and how they'll help you handle nontraditional, non-DICOM images," she said.
  4. What intraoperability standards does the vendor use and support? "You want to ensure that the solution you're purchasing has the highest degree of standards and great interoperability opportunities," Garriott noted.
  5. What are implementation and postimplementation support options? "What kind of training [does the vendor offer]?" she asked. "How big of a change will the [EI implementation] be for your clinicians? Spend time with your individual service areas to create workflows that accommodate their natural way [of doing things]."
  6. How does the platform's design mitigate performance latency and workflow disruption? "We're all aware of needing to be sensitive to how quickly images can be loaded so physicians can see them," Garriott said. "What's the delivery time from [image capture to viewing device]? Does the vendor support nondisruptive [platform] updates?"
  7. How often are platform enhancements/upgrades available? "Understand how long it will take for you to find out when an enhancement request has been integrated into the design," she said. "Also understand how often the platform will be upgraded, so you can plan for those disruptions."
  8. What image lifecycle management capabilities does the vendor support? "Image lifecycle management is more than just deleting studies," Garriott noted. "[Ask the vendor if you can] automatically age data off [higher tiers of storage] if it hasn't been accessed for a certain amount of time."
  9. What is the approach to data migration? "Does the vendor do data migration for you, or train your staff? Do they suggest you use a third party?" she asked. "Data migration tends to be an expensive and long process and it's important to understand how long it will take and if you need to provide support for it yourself."
  10. How does the vendor leverage cloud technology? "The cloud is here to stay, and healthcare is in it," Garriott said. "Imaging is a big consumer of storage, so you're going to want to leverage the cloud. Make sure you understand the vendor's 'roadmap' for the cloud: Are they operating in a private [space], or [using a hosting service] like Google, Amazon, or Azure?"

It all comes down to determining what your department really needs, according to Garriott.

"We've come a long way in the past decade -- enterprise imaging [has come] of age," she said. "The solutions [available] have changed over time, and the needs and priorities you have as an organization will vary as well."

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