Frequently Asked Questions
A PACS provides the ability to acquire, display, communicate/distribute, manage, and archive an imaging file.
A PACS requires a functioning network, a HIS/RIS interface, an image acquisition modality/device, a diagnostic
workstation for image viewing and interpretation, an infrastructure of servers for storage, distribution and
archiving of these images. These servers could comprise of an image server, NAS or direct attached storage
for fast retrieval of these images, a web server to distribute the images over the web or the local intranet,
and a long term archive which could but not limited to include a tape jukebox or Storage Area Network (SAN).
The need for speed and efficiency is great in this day and age. PACS will speed up the process of interpreting
studies when scanners today can generate upwards of several hundred images for one exam. It also gets the
information to the referring physicians faster. A major benefit is the ability to put more clinical information
at the radiologist's fingertips. This includes relevant prior studies and associated reports. Turnaround time
on reports and images is greatly reduced with the PACS investment.
Moving forward without a well thought out plan. A lot of organizations that proceed without a plan, fail.
There are so many opportunities to mess up that almost all PACS don't operate up to their capabilities.
Not having a well defined specification is another reason the PACS implementation fails. Yet another reason
could be no having an in depth understanding of why you are deploying an imaging network.
Most organizations I have worked with look for a turnkey solution. Even though the various pieces of a PACS
could come from different vendors they are looking to one vendor to put it all together. E.g. a PACS vendor
Y would use a film digitizer manufactured by vendor X, but most organizations look to vendor Y to put
everything together for them.
Turnkey solutions provide an added benefit. There is no finger pointing involved. One vendor is responsible
for the maintenance and up keep of all devices on an imaging network.
The cost of deploying a PACS based on the needs of every organization. Generally small to mid sized organizations
will spend upwards of $500,000 - $750,000. Large organizations could spend upwards of $1 million - $5 million.
Just depends on your needs.
A good PACS consultant can be an insurance policy. They can save you significant amounts of money, reduce time
to implementation, and greatly increase the probability for a successful outcome. A good PACS consultant will
look at the organizations needs and what its capabilities are. They will want to thoroughly understand why the
organization wants to deploy a PACS and what issues the organization is trying or resolve. A consultant may cost
you 10% of the total cost of your deployment but it is worth it.
An article in Imaging Economics July 2006 edition "The 14 Ingredients of a PACS Administrator" has the answer.
Three categories of professional competencies:
1. Behavioral (focusing on workflow and skills used when working with all end users)
- Workflow analysis
- Reading environment
- Customer relations and management
2. Business (focusing on administrative skills in project management)
- PACS readiness
- Strategic vision
- PACS economics
- Vendor selection
- Sustaining PACS
3. Technical (focusing on those skills required to keep the PACS operating smoothly)
- Technical overview
- Systems management
The authors acknowledge that it would be unlikely for one person to demonstrate competency in all three categories.