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PACS helps medical center reduce turnaround time from hours to minutes

As technology becomes an ever-increasing driver to ensuring a smooth and effi cient healthcare environment, a well-run collaboration can hold the key to success.

I By Jeff Hicks

t is well known that most hospitals, regardless of size, deploy some type of digital imaging. As medical imaging continues to advance, hospitals must deal with the signifi cant increase in data that is acquired and must be managed. Accordingly, almost all facilities are in one of three stages: leveraging a complete digital picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) solution, in the midst of deploying a digital PACS solu- tion, or considering moving to a complete digital PACS solution. Therefore all hospitals are either implementing, have implemented, or are contemplating the implemen- tation of a PACS solution that will enable their facility to effi ciently manage complicated issues from large volume data storage to image distribution, work-fl ow effi ciency, scalability and disaster recovery in a fi scally manageable way. Complicating the matter, many institutions neces- sitate a system that can manage all of these issues over multiple work sites with seamless coordination between clinical and information technology staff. Two camps have developed regarding the management of hospital PACS: those who see PACS as the sole domain of the enterprise IT department, much like an e-mail server system; and those who see a PACS solution as a clinical application necessitating a dedicated radiology informatics department staffed with specialized indi- viduals with a combination of clinical experience and information technology know-how. Some might even say that there is a rift between the two camps – a struggle for soul of the imaging suite.

Both camps make a strong case, but there may be a middle ground. An innovative model has begun to take hold which is exemplifi ed by Baptist Health’s approach to PACS management. Baptist Health has a few specially trained radiology informatics (RI) professionals with the strong clinical experience needed for understand- ing measures of advanced clinical decision support, meticulous hospital data presentation, and liaising with multiple medical staff at various locations. At the same time, the team has fi nely tuned knowledge of image stor-

24 July 2010

age, retrieval, management and distribution essential to maximizing the advanced visualization capabilities of our PACS solution. But far from a stand-alone department, these professionals rely extensively on the traditional IT department’s enterprise knowledge in many important ways.

Two camps have developed regarding the management of hospital PACS: those who

see PACS as the sole domain of the enterprise IT department, and those who see it as a clinical application necessitating a dedicated radiology informatics department.

At Baptist Health the general rule of operation is: The data center to the wall outlet belongs to IT; RI takes over from there. Make no mistake; the IT department maintains the integrity of the ever-important network and HIS systems. Even the Philips iVault PACS server is located in the IT data center, along with other informatics system servers. Like most facilities, IT has historically housed an array of servers and maintains a secure area for this purpose. Baptist has found no compelling reason to spend dollars and effort mimicking a well-functioning pre-existing system. Consequently, seamless coordination between IT and RI is essential to a successful partnership, and relation- ship building and project management abilities are of the utmost importance when building a successful RI depart- ment. While the ideal RI specialist is a computer-savvy individual with a substantial clinical background who ap- preciates how complicated medical systems and clinical functions interact, essential supporting roles are often played by those with computer or systems backgrounds; they are the bridge to a successful partnership with the IT


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