Just as a car needs a tune-up to run well, complex systems like picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) need frequent adjustment. Unfortunately, many facilities neglect to perform periodic system reviews after the initial installation, other than required software updates and upgrades. That can be a missed opportunity in terms of efficient workflow and optimized storage.
For your PACS to run efficiently, it’s a good idea to look at the system from both a technical perspective and a clinical one. PACS optimization starts with understanding the hardware and software architecture, the facilities requirements, how well the system is performing and at what level it should be performing. The hardware should be carefully evaluated to determine how it can be optimized from the front end and back end, examining any place where bottlenecks occur and looking at network utilization levels (including web use). It’s a good idea to evaluate cache memory, pre-fetching, data compression, DICOM archival and integration with clinical systems such as your EHR.
Long-term image storage is a critical concern for most organizations, so any system review should include an evaluation of storage use, retrieval rates by study type/image file size and projected growth. It should also look at how the archive can be used to input images from other “ologies” to save on storage-related costs. This is a good time to assess your disaster recovery and business continuity scenarios and, if necessary, put together a plan that addresses both from a financial and operational perspective.
An in-depth PACS optimization review should also examine study turnaround times, use of reporting options (including speech recognition) and PACS administrative operations and change management. Ideally, the review will identify areas where software can improve operational performance or help your department meet legal requirements. Examples include mammography, ED reporting, dose management, advanced software for 3D rendering, orthopedic templating and nuclear medicine.
A thorough PACS “checkup” takes time, but it will pay for itself in better performance and improved workflow, saving money while improving overall system operation.
To learn more about how McKesson’s optimization service can help your diagnostic imaging department with its performance and workflow issues as well as help maximize your technology investment, join us on June 3 at 2:00 pm EST for our webinar. Register now.