Case Study | April 03, 2013 | Ascendian Healthcare Consulting

Sentara Healthcare: VNA Readiness and Launch


Sentara Healthcare operates more than 100 sites of care serving the residents of Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. Founded in 1888, the organization is growing and is recognized as one of the top integrated health care systems in the nation. Sentara Healthcare currently consists of:

  • 10 hospitals
  • Advanced imaging centers
  • Three medical groups
  • Nursing and assisted-living centers
  • 3,680 provider medical staff
  • Optima Health – Sentara-owned health plan serving 450,000 members


Sentara’s quest for superior patient care, continuous innovation and expansion required the organization to consider a vendor neutral archive (VNA) solution to increase interoperability and connectivity for their current and future enterprise medical imaging initiatives. To launch the VNA effort, Sentara engaged Ascendian Healthcare Consulting as a partner to establish the foundations required for a successful business strategy and the supporting analysis, education, phased design and deployment. An enterprise VNA will enhance Sentara’s capabilities across clinical image data flow, work flow and integration with their EHR solution. The effort required:

  • Identifying the technical and functional requirements of an Enterprise Imaging Platform, including an enterprise viewer
  • Developing and delivering education to technical, clinical and executive leadership
  • Conducting a robust vendor selection process
  • Designing a design, build, migration and implementation strategy that includes image-enabling their EHR (EPIC)


Client Quote

“Before engaging Ascendian we treated the VNA as an application project,” said Trent Conwell, technical manager – integration architecture at Sentara.   “With the expertise that Ascendian brings to the table we now have a comprehensive view of what we call Sentara’s Enterprise Imaging Strategy. This strategy has given our team the knowledge and structure to focus on each of the components necessary to achieve Sentara’s enterprise imaging goals.”



The complexity and costs of storing, securing and sharing data has intensified for healthcare providers. A VNA solution can enhance the quality of care, patient safety and increase efficiencies within a health system’s operations. These benefits are compounded when healthcare organizations are growing through M&A, or participating in emerging HIE’s and ACO models. 

Vendor Neutral Archives (VNA)

A comprehensive roadmap was developed to drive objectives and codify timelines and deliverables. Each of the 10 hospitals had unique needs based on existing technology, processes and organizational requirements. Additionally, the final VNA solutions would need to provide disaster recovery capabilities and business continuity across the existing silos of existing data. Ascendian’s initial analysis and strategy provided Sentara a complete picture of how a VNA solution would drive clinical integration, enterprise-wide image management and the sharing of images in a unified context. Key deliverables during the engagement focused on:

  • Designing a strategy to provide enterprise image access from a single viewer while the VNA effort is underway
  • Designing and delivering educational components and content to technical teams, clinical teams, IT support teams and executive leadership
  • Understanding both the technical and clinical impacts and effects of a VNA solution assisting with building the business case that demonstrates the value of VNA both from a clinical, technical and cost perspective
  • Shaping an implementation strategy that meets the demands of Sentara’s complex environment, including a migration strategy


Sentara’s VNA will harness enterprise medical data and provide an integrated system that allows physicians and medical professionals access to image data across its regional operations in Virginia and North Carolina. Integration and interoperability is key to Sentara’s expansive operations and the management, storage and distribution of digital medical images as well as other clinical content across its healthcare and hospital systems.

About Ascendian

Ascendian Healthcare Consulting is a national leader in HIT solutions. We are renowned for our ability to help healthcare organizations quickly and cost-effectively adopt technology and innovative practices. Ascendian offers information systems interoperability, HIT strategic planning for implementation, ACO planning and deployment, vendor neutral archiving analysis and development and radiation dose consulting. For more information: or call us directly at 866-323-7227.







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