Acquiring a PACS system for a mid-sized imaging facility is often challenging, as one needs to plan for the present while keeping future growth in mind. This article highlights five major areas that any mid-sized imaging facility should look into for a PACS.
1. Single Database Platform
These days, the use of a PACS isn’t limited to radiology departments. Departments like ophthalmology, pathology, cardiology, and dermatology can also use PACS for image viewing and storage. In this regard, it’s very important to opt for a PACS with a single database platform to ensure that all images and patient data are accessible to users from any department. This not only reduces costs but also improves turnaround time and overall utilization for all departments as well.
2. Financial Justification
Mid-sized imaging facilities should seek a viable economic justification for acquiring a PACS. According to (Cohen, 2005), while assessing the cost-effectiveness of any PACS system, three factors should be considered. These factors include tangible dollar savings, time value for money, and the quantitative value of money. Tangible dollar savings are calculated by assessing the number of film reductions by the introduction of PACS. The time value for money is assessed by improvement in personnel productivity e.g. technologist, radiologist, and referring physician. The quantitative value of money is assessed by calculating the improvement in turnaround time, patient, and referring physician satisfaction. Improving turnaround time leads to an improvement in capacity utilization equipment and human resource. This expedites the treatment process, which leads to the patient and referring physician satisfaction as both are receiving reports in a timely manner.
3. Operational Functionality
A key factor to consider before acquiring any PACS system is operational functionality. An imaging facility’s workflow should harmonize perfectly with that of their new PACS. Their PACS should be customizable to adapt to and ideally, improve the imaging facility’s workflow. A workflow-driven PACS is easily able to meet imaging facility workflow needs.
It’s important for imaging facilities to ensure they acquire a PACS that meets HIPPA compliance guidelines. It’s best to opt for a system that provides security options to enable image access to only those users who need it by the patient to patient basis. In many countries, it is required by law to access only those imaging exams that the user is authorized to view and read.
One of the major factors an imaging facility should consider when acquiring a new PACS is scalability. Imaging facilities should ensure that the PACS they acquire is scalable in regards to their current and potentially, future radiology workflows. In other words, their PACS should be designed to keep pace with their expected growth. In this regard, imaging facilities should ensure that their PACS provides unlimited users, modalities, and workstations and flexible payment options.
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