Is PACS Still Relevant?


Results From PACSWithout context, it’s easy to say, “PACS is dead.” But when viewed from the side mirror, so to speak, third generation PACS has evolved considerably from when it was first introduced. The informatics field has moved from a workflow fee-for-service model to new reimbursement models where managing medical imaging, rather than reading studies, will determine revenue.

Thought leaders in the enterprise medical imaging arena offered their thoughts recently regarding whether PACS is becoming obsolete. The following are summary statements from a few of the industry’s most knowledgeable informatics professionals.

PACS 3.0

“In a capitated model, radiology is a cost sink not a revenue generator. This requires us to change our view. Anything we talk about when we design the next-generation PACS has to directly result in measurable improvements in the value proposition, with value defined as quality, efficiency and safety simultaneously,” says Paul J. Chang, MD, Medical Director, Enterprise Imaging, The University of Chicago Medicine.

Third party payers, consumers and government mandates are causing disruption within the health care system like never before. Chang says that many in radiology are not ready for these new realities and foresees vendor neutral archives playing a larger role in providing data beyond the firewall. (Source: Health Imaging.)

PACS & “the Cloud”

Keith J. Dreyer, DO, PhD, Vice Chairman of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, echoes Chang’s belief that next generation PACS require a different architecture—one that emphasizes interoperability and leverages the cloud.

PACS today have not been designed to put the patient first, which is a vital part of current healthcare reform. To be relevant today, PACS need to help radiologists give both patients and doctors what they need—a way to move images outside of siloed hospitals.

According to Dreyer, radiology departments also need two-way communication that integrates across institutional boundaries, giving radiologists the capabilities to extend their presence beyond their department throughout the entire patient care process. (Source: Health Imaging.)

Smart PACS Era?

In order for PACS to remain relevant, “smart systems” need to be developed, not only to keep pace with other sophisticated technologies, but also to actually give radiologists what they need, says Eliot L. Siegel, MD, Director, Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center Radiology.

PACS should automatically mine the record before the radiologist reads the exam, for example. This functionality hinges on better integration between PACS and the EMR, which would enable access to laboratory information, problem lists, progress notes and discharge summaries at the PACS workstation, improving the patient care process immeasurably.

In an ideal world, all image datasets would be easily accessible on a single system, such as vendor neutral archives, he adds. (Source: Health Imaging.)

McKesson Weighs In

From cloud-based computing to its underlying architecture, McKesson provides 3.0 solutions for your mission critical infrastructure, whether studies are acquired elsewhere, are large and complex, retrieved from another DICOM system, or travel between facilities on low bandwidth networks.

As PACS has evolved from the film era, McKesson has invested in creating an enterprise imaging tool that not only focuses on workflow, but also improves collaboration and enhances productivity. By providing interoperable features that radiologists actually use, we believe our PACS solution is more relevant than ever.

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