Tags: VNA

What is a Venor Imaging Neutral Network (VNIN)

At SynApps we are continuously looking for ways to improve our solutions to the benefit of our customers. One such area of focus is centred around standards-based interoperability by allowing collaborating hospitals to establish a Vendor Neutral Imaging Network (VNIN). But what is a VNIN?

A Vendor Neutral Imaging Network (VNIN) is a healthcare-related concept that refers to an interoperable and standardized system for the storage, exchange, and retrieval of medical images. It is designed to overcome the limitations of traditional Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS), which often have proprietary formats and communication protocols, making it challenging for healthcare facilities to share medical images seamlessly.

The primary objective of a VNIN is to create a platform where medical images, such as X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds, and other diagnostic images, can be shared across a region in a standardised manner. This enables healthcare providers, including hospitals, clinics, and imaging centres, to efficiently access patient images and data across different facilities and systems, regardless of the vendor or manufacturer of the equipment used to generate the images.

Vendor Neutral Imaging Network

Key features and characteristics of a Vendor Neutral Imaging Network include:

  1. Standardization: VNINs adhere to industry standards, such as DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine), FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), XDS (Cross-Enterprise Document Sharing) and XCA (Cross-Community Access), which ensure that medical images are stored and communicated in a uniform format. These standards allow different systems to communicate, understand and interpret the images consistently.
  2. Dynamic Interoperability: VNINs are designed to support the dynamic on-demand sharing and retrieval of Patient Images and Documents across a region of collaborating hospitals without mandating the creation of a single central archive. VNINs can be integrated with other regional or national XDS registries to support wider information sharing.
  3. Centralized Image Repository: Since a VNIN supports the dynamic sharing of information, a central repository is not mandatory. However, VNINs may also provide a centralised storage repository for medical images to improve scalability, accessibility or resilience depending on the need.
  4. Scalability: VNINs are scalable to accommodate the growing volume of medical images generated daily. This is essential as medical facilities continue to adopt digital imaging technologies and generate increasingly larger datasets.
  5. Security: Given the sensitivity of medical images and patient data, VNINs implement robust security measures to protect patient privacy and comply with relevant regulations, such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the United States.
  6. Vendor Independence: As the name suggests, a VNIN is vendor-neutral, meaning it is not tied to any specific medical equipment manufacturer. This independence allows healthcare facilities to choose imaging devices from different vendors while maintaining seamless data exchange.
  7. Access Control and Authorization: VNINs implement access controls and authorization mechanisms to ensure that only authorized healthcare professionals can access and view patient images.
  8. Data Integrity: VNINs prioritize data integrity, ensuring that medical images remain accurate and unaltered during storage and transmission.

By adopting a Vendor Neutral Imaging Network, healthcare organizations can improve clinical workflow efficiency, enhance collaboration among specialists, and ultimately deliver better patient care by ensuring that critical medical images are readily accessible and shareable across the healthcare ecosystem.

The SynApps VNIN solution offers these critical features alongside an advanced zero footprint diagnostic viewer which can further extend access to not only other clinicians within the hospital but also those users within the community or primary care who may not have historically had direct access to such critical patient data.

SynApps Solutions awarded to the new National Framework Agreement for Legacy Information Integration and Management

Hatfield, UK – July 18th , 2023 – SynApps Solutions, the enterprise content management specialist with deep experience across the NHS, has announced that it has been named as one of six suppliers to the £150 million contract following the launch of a new framework agreement, designed to allow NHS trusts to procure legacy information and management solutions.

The framework, managed by the Commercial Procurement Service and set to run until 2027, is expected to meet the challenges presented by migrating from one patient administration system to an EPR. It allows for the procurement of a cloud-based or on-site archive which interfaces directly with a live EPR, so clinicians can access archived clinical patient data seamlessly from within the live EPR.

The data is then extracted, analysed and migrated to the new system, ensuring the data is usable in the new system. Data can be extracted from multiple systems and aggregated into one archive, simplifying access where multiple systems may have been in place previously. The archive and the live EPR will interface directly, and access to the archived data is available within the new EPR system, streamlining access and allowing the legacy contracts to be ended.

The Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s Commercial Procurement Services recognised the challenges faced by many NHS organisations around how to deal with legacy applications and data; thus, creating the new framework agreement to enable NHS Trusts to purchase solutions and services to help tackle these issues.

“We are delighted to be one of only six vendors on this framework, which will help clinicians access archived data and patient information seamlessly from within their EPR,” comments Jason Scholes, CTO, SynApps Solutions. “SynApps is transforming the way NHS Trusts provide the whole patient record (DICOM/non-DICOM) to clinicians via existing EPR systems and share the records with other healthcare providers in the local community so this Framework is a natural fit for us.”

SynApps provides software, consultancy, implementation and support services for Alfresco and OpenText Documentum and has authored a suite of content integration and migration solutions, ConXApps, that allow businesses to quickly maximise their investment in ECM technologies. The company also builds VNA (Vendor Neutral Archive) solutions which extend into VNIN (Vendor Neutral Imaging Networks) for shared Radiology. These provide proactive image sharing, cross-network reporting, CDC support, a single view of multimedia data, and image sharing within and beyond regional imaging networks, leading to enhanced patient diagnoses and outcomes.

SynApps Solutions is also part of several other government frameworks, including NHS Supplychain, QE Facilities, and the North of England Framework.

University Hospitals Dorset introduce a cloud-based Unified Image Sharing System from SynApps, J4Care and OpenText

Hatfield, UK – May 10, 2023 – SynApps Solutions, the enterprise content management specialist with deep experience across the NHS, has been selected by Dorset’s three NHS provider trusts (University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust (UHD), Dorset County Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (DCH) and Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust (DHC)) to deploy a proactive image sharing system based on a transient use of  its Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA).

The secure, cloud-based image sharing portal, built in tandem with partners J4Care and OpenText, enables upstream multimedia data captured within the Sharing Domain to be available proactively and without delay to clinical staff at the point of care within their existing image management systems.

“Previously, we relied on lots of manual workarounds with no effective information flow, which meant images taken at one site would not necessarily be available in another department, leading to duplicate images being taken,” explains Peter Gill, Chief Informatics Officer, University Hospitals Dorset. “There are up to twenty clinical departments outside of radiology that rely on imagery and scans so being able to proactively share them is vital.”

Following a comprehensive procurement process involving 19 potential partners, the Trusts selected SynApps, J4Care and OpenText based on performance, compliance and the fact that they could deliver an architecture based on messaging rather than image pooling.

The project, which begins this month, is expected to complete the implementation for core organisations and radiology within twelve months. It will enable proactive image sharing, cross-network reporting, CDC support, a single view of multimedia data, and image sharing beyond the South East 3 imaging network. This will lead to better patient diagnoses and outcomes.

“Access to older images taken across our network improves diagnostics enormously because we can more accurately track symptoms, such as the growth of a lump,” adds Gill. “SynApps gives us a viewing system that will render all images in a single portal, built on a database of metadata, which can bring together historic images.”

“We are delighted to partner with University Hospitals Dorset Trust as well as J4Care and Open Text to deliver this proactive image sharing platform,” comments Jason Scholes, CTO, SynApps. “By enabling clinical staff to access images from across the network, it will make a positive impact on patient care and reduce waste across the Trust.”

How the market finally caught up with the Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) promise

I hope you spotted the great news that came in at the end of last month that the most trusted name in the IT commentary world, Gartner, rated us extremely highly in that part of the market known as the VNA.

VNA is not the sexiest term for a technology ever, I’ll grant you – but actually, it’s a really important tool and one that could really help a lot of people.

That’s because the name – it stands for ‘Vendor-Neutral Archive’ – doesn’t really convey what its power or potential actually is. We know – we’ve been marketing some excellent VNA solutions, especially for the NHS market, for a number of years now, and the vagueness of that name has perhaps not been to its help.

Why? Because NHS buyers see the VNA as in, essence, a medical device… it’s a bit of software that is good for storing my medical imaging data, specifically all the PACS and DICOM data that I needed to find a safe and secure home for when the old off-site PACS storage NPfIT contracts came to an end in 2015.

Which it is – a VNA is a fantastic way to store very large data files and access them really easily. But that was never what a VNA was only supposed to do. That’s because, out of the gate, you had this really cool XDS tech built into it – XDS standing for ‘Cross Enterprise Document Sharing’.

Why XDS is so useful is that it is a standards-based way to work with multiple forms of content, of all different types. That means that a VNA isn’t actually just a place to stick big X-ray image files, though please carry on doing so… it’s actually an Enterprise or Document Management System.

Why should I care, I hear you thinking? Well, a VNA might not be a whole lot of use to a manufacturer, a retailer or a financial services CIO.

But if you are

  • an NHS CCIO or CIO trying to help colleagues in different departments
  • and/or an NHS CCIO or CIO tasked with helping connect records with other stakeholders
  • a local authority social care team looking to join up information on vulnerable or elderly patients to help address their complex, cross-team needs
  • a GP surgery looking for better ways to document the patient journey
  • a CCG committed to more paperless ways of working with patient data
  • a policymaker in an NHS England STP (Sustainability and Transformation Project) interested in the power of digital to revolutionise patient care

Well, then – yes – what a VNA can do suddenly becomes absolutely central. How: because it’s the proven, available and tested way to keep all patient data – from notes to prescription charges to medical imagery to social care interactions – in one place.

And from cradle to archiving – across multiple stakeholders.

In that Gartner report, that route of travel has been clearly signaled. The good news is that here at SynApps Solutions, we spotted the potential for this years back, and have accumulated relevant expertise and intelligence on doing just this kind of Super-VNA work (and have some significant trails underway to make a VNA-based Shared Care Record a reality – an in months, not years).

It’s brilliant to see that Gartner has caught up with us – but we’re not boasting, we’re just saying that we are ready whenever you are.

Let’s work together to make VNA do what you and your patients and service users really need it to.

Chris Brice is SynApps Solutions’ Director of Sales and Marketing

Post WannaCry, It’s Time To Think Of A Better Future

As the worst of the NHS Ransomware crisis fades, it’s time to try and take stock of what happened.

Firstly, SynApps Solutions is very concerned, and is here to help any NHS Trust or other healthcare organisation still struggling to beat off the WannaCry malware infection. As a proud supplier of information technology solutions to the national health Service, we were appalled by this vicious cyber attack, and our team is here to offer any advice needed over and above that provided by NHS Digital and NHS England to get you back up and safe.

However once the immediate aftermath is over, we have to think, as an IT community, about what to do to ensure it can’t ever disrupt our hospitals and GP surgeries again.

The key to that has to be modernisation. It’s definitely time to upgrade hospital architecture, and this is a problem that needs the joint, smart thinking and collaboration of the NHS, the Department of Health, the supplier base – and ultimately, the government.

All these stakeholders need to pull together to rebuild patient and citizen trust in our resilience and stability. There will be a financial aspect to this, ultimately. The XP holdover happened because both the government and many CCIOs just didn’t want to spend money. It’s tempting to stick to such platforms, as you will want to sweat the asset and extract as much value from it as you can over time – and, as we all know, the NHS has huge budgetary pressures these days.

But as the crisis has shown, it’s a false economy to keep putting off replacement of IT. It’s effectively leaving a back window open in your system stack that a malicious ill-wind like WannaCry can blow into. So, let’s address that.

Standards and great software design will help

We need to fix this because we’re just not going to get any real traction to what we all want, which is a digital-empowered NHS.

The good news is that no SynApps VNA or Integrated Digital Care Record clients were affected this month. That’s because content (be it DICOM image files or patient records) stored in ECM (Enterprise Content Management) platforms are protected against attack in multiple ways. For a start, content is stored in the server and separated from the desktop; so unlike with a mounted network drive, attack at the desktop level, in the style of WannaCry ransomware, would only affect temporary, local, copies and not have an impact of the master files stored in the server.

Even better, ECM version control always allows the roll back of any corrupted file to a proper version, so should an end user mistakenly upload a corrupted file the system can revert, safely, to where it should be. And finally, encryption at rest will stop any unauthorised access to the content

Another advantage of ECM-powered NHS suites will be their sound design. Written to the latest software engineering best practice metrics, and in our case firmly adhering to important international standards like CDA, it’s just a much safer bet to put your faith into something like this than an archaic, obsolete platform.

Perhaps it’s a bit too soon for some of you to be thinking like this, but ultimately we have to re-stabilise NHS IT and ensure it’s bulletproof from now on.

Look to ECM as one way to do just that. It can really help.

Gary Britnell
Head of SynApps Healthcare Practice

SynApps Seen As The Foundation Of Key Digital Exemplar EPR Project






In widely-followed sector publication Digital Health, SynApps Solutions project at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust has received some positive coverage.

A project is underway there to deliver a new Electronic Patient Record strategy based on an open standards-based vendor-neutral archive. The article discusses how Royal Liverpool is one of NHS England’s 16 global digital exemplar sites, which are being centrally funded to provide digital transformation best practice for other trusts to follow. IT systems used by the exemplars are likely to be adopted widely by other trusts, observers expect, for example.

Digital Health highlights SynApps role in preparing for the EPR in 2013, when we helped Royal Liverpool migrate nearly 90 million images to the SynApps vendor neutral archive (VNA).

Find out more about the project in more detail here

SynApps Takes A Look Back At 2015

christmas-ornament-1042545_1920Can I first wish you a Merry Christmas, and extend a sincere hope you get some good time off in the next couple of weeks? Try not to eat too many calories if you can and remember – the dog will always appreciate a walk if it all gets a bit too claustrophobic with the relatives in front of the Queen’s Speech.

It’s been a big year for us here – especially in our core NHS market. Let’s wrap up a few of the main trends we saw there, and how it’s helped shape SynApps and our progress over the past 12 months.

Tactical VNA

Fantastic to see so many Trusts coming off the National Programme PACS contracts and making the tactical move to not re-order expensive DICOM platforms but move to VNAs. That way, they’ve got their data back and can keep it in a safe and affordable format. A lot of CCIOs did this without much strategy, and it was the smart move.

Becomes Strategic VNA

Then, a lot embarked on the next equally smart step: now that all that X-ray and image/DICOM data has been repatriated, HIT (health IT) leaders are increasingly looking to exploring using the VNA to work with both that structured but also all that unstructured data . This is almost always under the rubric of the move, set right at the top by the Department of Health itself, to move to a ‘paperless,’ or at least radically digital, NHS by 2018. We’ve been pleased to have been part of such discussions – and, better, to be the chosen means of taking them forward.

Collaboration Emerges As A Key NHS Informatics Theme

Over the year, we were struck by a sea-change in NHS technology. We were expecting to hear a lot about sharing of data – between departments but also, at least tentatively, between different/disparate health and social care teams.

That happened, yes. But better, we heard more and more demand for doing more – to not just share but to actively, proactively, collaborate – and almost always in an open source, XDS way.

The goal was to join up the gaps that have for so long been there in the patient journey, not just through the system but across our lifetimes.

So what starts as an in-house collaboration space naturally soon evolves into a cross-organisational shared space, in the cloud, and with stakeholders, clinicians, social care professionals, starting to look to move data around in ways that best suit the patient.

This is really exciting and important. It’s been amazing to have seen this start and to play our part to help it along. This has to be the best way for the NHS to evolve, and it can solve so many social problems with our ageing society. I expect collaboration to become not just a nice-to-have but a requirement for our NHS projects in 2016.

How about that for a high note to end 2015?

Merry Christmas – and see you soon,


Mark Winstone is SynApps’s Joint CEO and Sales & Marketing Director