Whitney Palmer

Healthcare. Politics. Family.

The Fate of PACS

Published on the Sept. 2, 2015, DiagnosticImaging.com website

By Whitney L.J. Howell

Since May, there’s been ongoing debate about one of your most significant, frequently-used tools – your PACS. Has it, in fact, outlived its original purpose only to be replaced by a sleeker, more versatile system?

At this year’s SIIM conference, Donald Dennison, director-at-large of the SIIM Board of Directors and chair of the ACR Connect Committee, rocked the industry by suggesting just that. He predicted that by 2018, the radiology world would be PACS-less, and there are some in the community who agree.

But, not all. Many of you – practitioners, vendors, and customers – still believe there’s life-blood in PACS. Just not in its current iteration. The system has to change to fulfill a new role within a rapidly-morphing health care environment. If it can do that, radiology’s diagnostic workhorse will still be able to meet your needs and those of the industry’s other stakeholders.

“This isn’t a death – it’s a maturation. It’s overly hyperbolic and misleading to discuss the death of PACS,” said Paul Chang, MD, radiology professor, vice chair of radiology informatics, pathology informatics, and enterprise imaging medical director at the University of Chicago. “This is us saying today’s radiology department isn’t the file room. Our value is in interpretation of imaging studies and contributing to patient management.”

But, to meet that goal, you must be aware of the many factors affecting the direction in which your PACS will likely go.

To read the remainder of the article at its original location: http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/pacs-and-informatics/fate-pacs

September 4, 2015 Posted by | Healthcare | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vendor-Neutral Archives: The Rapid Shift in Image Archiving

Published on the Aug. 24, 2012, DiagnosticImaging.com website

By Whitney L.J. Howell

When it comes to image storing, PACS still rule the industry. But vendor-neutral archives (VNAs) — products that help you store and share studies across manufacturer systems — are gaining market share fast.

While only 5.4 percent of the nearly 1.5 billion worldwide imaging studies were stored by VNAs in 2011, VNAs are expected to archive more than 30 percent by 2016, according to a May 2012 InMedica report. In fact, a 2012 KLAS report found 27 percent of providers already plan to include VNAs in their image-storing strategies.

“As we’re moving into health care reform, sharing data with other hospitals to coordinate care will be tough if we have to do it across 10 different PACS vendors,” said Chris Tomlinson, executive director of Radiology Associates of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “By purchasing a VNA, we could segment ownership from the viewers we read things in. It was like getting out of PACS jail, and it’s a great way for radiology to take a lead role within an institution.”

The shift toward VNA implementation has been — and, by most estimates, will continue to be — rapid. And, it’s a move that will impact your purchasing decisions, your image management, and how you shuttle images between institutions. The question, however, is what those impacts will look like.

Making a Purchase

Whether you work in a private practice or a hospital, roughly one-third of image CDs sent from one institution to another are unreadable because the PACS systems are different. This problem has long been understood as a patient-care issue, but it’s also a financial one, said Steve Tolle, senior vice president for solutions management for Merge Healthcare, vendor for the VNA system iConnect.

“Every image CD sent costs about $15 in addition to staff and physician time,” he said. “A hospital can spend between $60,000 and $70,000 annually on courier costs just shuffling CDs between hospitals. That’s a hard savings that can be had with the enterprise and share functionalities of a VNA.”

But you must be careful when selecting a VNA. Examine potential VNA vendors carefully, said Michael Gray, lead consultant at Gray Consulting, because some have modified their marketing efforts to sell PACS systems as VNAs. After you’ve narrowed your vendor choices down, request quotes from each. Remember, if the price tag is high, you can implement a VNA in stages, such as only replacing your tape library, to control costs.

“Identify what’s the most important thing for you to do right now. Do you want to move all your data? Do you want to stick it in a data center?” Gray said. “Have vendors show you creative pricing for putting in part of a VNA. Few real VNA vendors are so busy chasing the $4 million deals that they’re too busy to tell you what you can do for a couple hundred thousand.”

Impacting Image Storage and Management

Most hospital departments operate in separate worlds, making it difficult to share images across institutions. However, expected increases in team-based care and bundled payments will likely make this business and care model unsustainable.

“Interoperability is where we’re going in this world. We’re going to have to share images, so we can’t have these silos of data sitting around,” Holle said. “VNAs offer an entire view of a facility’s diagnostic images, and they provide a solution for all specialists — the cardiologists, the radiologists, the pathologists and others.”

Merge’s iConnect brings together images from any PACS in an institution and offers replicated content management, a feature that supplements back-up recovery by making and storing elsewhere automatic copies of images and data. iConnect also uses a standardized DICOM format that all vendor equipment can access, Tolle said.

Using a VNA will also impact how you interact with your referring physicians, said Merge’s Kurt Hammond, vice president for interoperability solutions. This tool can help you meet growing patient demands.

“Turnaround time is getting really aggressive as physicians expect faster and faster image reads for their patients,” he said. “With a VNA, you’ll save time because there will only be one place to go for images no matter which department they’re coming from.”

According to Shannon Werb, chief operating and strategy officer for Acuo Technologies, employing a VNA also provides you the autonomy to change how you manage your system or distribute your images without contacting the manufacturer.

Acuo’s VNA product, UCP3, is similar to iConnect. However, in addition to DICOM standards, it supports the global authority on international health information technology interoperability Health Level Seven International (HL7) and Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) profiles, including Cross-Enterprise Document Sharing (XDS).

VNAs can also save you the time and money you’d expend when migrating imaging data from an old PACS to a new system. Currently, it’s easier to let your PACS vendor transfer the data because it’s time consuming and can be confusing. Often, vendors change DICOM headers, such as CT of the head to CTHead or HeadCT, making it impossible to find some images if they aren’t categorized correctly in the new PACS. The cost for this service is often between $200,000 and $300,000.

To view remainder of story at original location: 


August 31, 2012 Posted by | Healthcare | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Follow-Up: How Secure Is Cloud-based Image Sharing?

Published on the Feb. 1, 2012, DiagnosticImaging.com website

By Whitney L.J. Howell

Interest in cloud image sharing has swelled in recent months. The topic has appeared on national conference agendas, and a growing number of vendors now offer clients the ability to transfer images anywhere worldwide. But the rising popularity of sending images via the Internet doesn’t mean everyone in the radiology industry is comfortable with the idea.

In an informal, nonscientific January Diagnostic Imaging poll, 70 percent of respondents reported they are concerned about the security of cloud image sharing. According to many vendors, this type of image sharing prompts two main worries: Will images viewed through the cloud be of high enough quality to render a diagnosis, and will a cloud sharing system protect the large number of patient images effectively?

Many industry leaders and vendors said existing privacy protocols are more than enough to keep patient images safe.

But not every cloud image sharing vendor creates an entirely new privacy and safety protocol. For example, eHealth Global Technologies relies on measures that exist within health information exchanges (HIEs) to keep the images in its eHealth Connect® Diagnostic Image Exchange safe.

“Health information exchanges already have security and consent controls set up,” said Ken Rosenfeld, eHealth Global’s CEO. “Rather than asking clients to spend the time and money to put new protocols in place and reinvent security measures, we work within the framework they already have.”

To read the remainder of the article: http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/informatics-pacs/content/article/113619/2024991

February 1, 2012 Posted by | Healthcare | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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