In a recent conversation with Jeff Timbrook, global vice president of healthcare, Perceptive Software (http://www.perceptivesoftware.com/), the subject of an ROI analysis came up with respect to the vendor neutral archive (VNA). Jeff was curious as to whether ROI analyses come up often in my consulting practice with respect to prospective VNA acquisitions. I indicated to Jeff that it is the exception rather than the rule. This got me to thinking – is an ROI analysis an important element in the consideration of a VNA?
From what I have seen in the marketplace, there may be elements of the VNA that come under some form of ROI analysis, such as the infrastructure it will operate on, but I have not seen widespread application of an ROI analysis used in justifying a VNA. Considering the size of investment for a VNA, this seems unusual.
One possibility may be that the VNA is part of a larger acquisition, and is either justified on the basis of a broader application, or is considered part of the infrastructure necessary to support it. Another possibility is that it may simply be considered a replacement for existing storage, and deemed to be a replacement cost.
In the early days of PACS implementations, there was a lot of emphasis on ROI. I have done my share of ROI assessments for PACS implementations. Most of these analyses focused on offsetting the PACS investment with film and film handling labor cost savings. The key was replacing one process (film) with another (digital image). In the case of the VNA, it’s not so clear-cut, in that usually one is replacing one digital storage solution with another. So the question is, is there sufficient operational cost differences between older archive approaches and a VNA? Are there new processes such as lifecycle image management that can offset other operational costs to justify the VNA technology?
Robin Schroeder-Janonis, vice president of sales, TeraMedica (http://www.teramedica.com/) has some additional perspective. Robin emphasizes a VNA’s Clinical Information Lifecycle Management capability and the role it can play in cost savings. “The user has two options, either purge or compress the data after the retention date is reached. This can result in a significant cost savings or avoidance of additional storage purchases in the future or reclaim the space they already have.” Similarly, “a study can be managed differently if it is flagged as negative,” and it can be managed differently on a less expensive storage tier but still available to the enterprise.
So, there are clearly opportunities to generate cost savings with VNA’s. My efforts to secure some end-user perspective have thus far not resulted in any comments on real-world experience. I am curious as to what CIOs think. Are there clear-cut ROI cases to be made for the VNA? Or, is the VNA rolled into a larger acquisition, and part of a larger ROI? Are we too early in the lifecycle of a VNA to see justifications for anything other than PACS replacement archives?
I welcome your feedback on your experience with an ROI. Feel free to share your opinions!