Customer Stories / Healthcare / United States
Optimizing Enterprise Imaging in the Cloud Using Visage 7 PACS Platform on AWS with Allina Health
Learn how Allina Health connected its infrastructure to a fast, secure PACS in the cloud.
Allina Health (pronounced “A-line-a”) needed to replace its picture archiving and communication system (PACS) so that it could serve radiology patients better across its hospitals and clinics. PACS is a medical imaging technology that securely stores and digitally transmits diagnostic imaging and associated reports. The ability of Allina Health’s radiologists to read images quickly and accurately alleviates the anxiety of patients waiting for their results, a critical part of Allina Health’s mission to provide exceptional care.
To replace its existing on-premises infrastructure, Allina Health opted to use solutions from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and selected Visage Imaging (Visage) and the Visage 7 Enterprise Imaging Platform (Visage 7). Visage is an AWS Partner that provided an option for a customer-hosted or a managed PACS-as-a-service solution. Allina Health deployed to the cloud within weeks using Visage’s fast, clinically rich, highly scalable software as a service. Using Visage, Allina Health off-loaded the management of its PACS infrastructure, seamlessly incorporated its other applications, and reduced the time that radiologists need to display imaging studies by 67 percent.
Opportunity | Modernizing Allina Health’s PACS Using Visage 7 on AWS
Based in Minneapolis, Allina Health is a not-for-profit healthcare system that owns or operates 12 hospitals and more than 90 clinics throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Its radiologists use PACS technology to read more than one million new imaging studies a year in specialties such as orthopedics, mammography, cardiology, and nuclear medicine.
For 19 years, Allina Health had been using the same PACS solution, which relied on aging infrastructure that featured dozens of siloed servers acting as hubs that transmitted data to designated spoke sites. The legacy PACS model, originally part of a 5-year digital transformation plan, resulted in slow load times that frustrated radiologists trying to optimize patient care. “Our prior PACS was approaching end of life,” says Brad Messerschmidt, Allina Health’s manager of radiology information system (RIS) and PACS applications. “It was time to move on to an enterprise model so that everything was available everywhere at any given time.”
Allina Health had narrowed its decision to two PACS providers: Visage and an on-premises solution from another vendor. “Initially, we were looking primarily at functionality,” says Messerschmidt. “Cloud was not one of the top five things we had to have, but the cloud solution was light-speed faster. And we didn’t want to build out substantial infrastructure. So those were deciding factors for Visage.”
Using Visage 7 on AWS, we’ve significantly improved the speed of our imaging. Getting images quickly for our radiologists and physicians is key for us. That’s very beneficial for patient care.”
Manager of RIS and PACS Applications, Allina Health
Solution | Using AWS Direct Connect for a Secure Cloud Connection to Display Imaging Studies 67% Faster
In November 2022, Allina Health went live with Visage 7 across the enterprise. “It was out of the box, basically,” says Messerschmidt. “The speed with which we could implement because of Visage 7 on AWS was unbelievably fast. Even my team was questioning how it was possible that we could go so fast.”
Allina Health required a secure connection that encrypted all data passing between its on-premises infrastructure and Visage 7 on AWS. Also, all traffic had to pass through its preexisting security architecture from Palo Alto Networks, an AWS Partner that helps customers accelerate cloud migration initiatives with inline and API-based security offerings that complement native AWS security features. Together, engineers from Allina Health, Visage, and AWS built a secure, dedicated network connection using AWS Direct Connect, a cloud service that is the shortest path to AWS resources. “AWS stepped up and gave us really good resources to use, and Visage really knew its stuff,” says Jarrod Swetland, senior network engineer at Allina Health. “We had a working environment in under 3 weeks coming from zero AWS experience or connectivity.”
Allina Health no longer deals with updates to its operating systems, firmware, or applications, which sometimes took months. “Using Visage 7 as a software-as-a-service deployment on AWS, we don’t have that anymore,” says Messerschmidt. “In a hospital environment, uptime is key for us.”
Using Visage 7, radiologists display images in about 1 second on average, approximately 67 percent faster than the legacy PACS solution. This saves significant time over the course of a doctor’s day. Some patients know their results before they leave the clinic. Even prior studies load instantaneously, providing access to the entire imaging patient jacket, which means that radiologists don’t have to skip over patients in the queue because images from previous exams aren’t available. Visage also provides an intelligent way to schedule and prestage prior imaging studies from Allina Health’s third-party vendor-neutral archive so that all patient imaging is available days before the patient arrives to be scanned for their new image. “We used to get complaints on a daily basis about slow routing, that radiologists were waiting for large datasets to download to our legacy PACS,” says Messerschmidt. “Using Visage 7, our complaint calls have drastically decreased. This has completely changed the interactions for the radiologists. I can’t believe that we didn’t do this earlier.”
Allina Health also seamlessly integrated Visage 7 into its existing clinical applications, such as its Epic electronic medical records, its reporting software, and a new orthopedics application. Radiologists at Allina Health’s flagship hospital and those working remotely off-site can quickly and precisely read and interpret multimodality diagnostic imaging from a patient seen at any Allina Health location.
Outcome | Adopting PACS in the Cloud to Improve Patient Care
Allina Health’s radiology groups, emergency department groups, and breast imaging and orthopedic groups are all using Visage 7. “In this day and age, it’s the architecture on the backend that sets one PACS apart from the others,” says Messerschmidt. “Using Visage 7 on AWS, we’ve significantly improved the speed of our imaging. Getting images quickly for our radiologists and physicians is key for us. That’s very beneficial for patient care.”
About Allina Health
Based in Minneapolis, Allina Health owns or operates 12 hospital campuses, more than 60 primary care clinics, 20 same-day and urgent care centers, and more than 100 specialty care sites throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
AWS Services Used
AWS Direct Connect
The AWS Direct Connect cloud service is the shortest path to your AWS resources. While in transit, your network traffic remains on the AWS global network and never touches the public internet.
Organizations of all sizes across all industries are transforming their businesses and delivering on their missions every day using AWS. Contact our experts and start your own AWS journey today.