Some of today’s picture archiving communication systems (PACS) are capable of archiving images to a vendor neutral archive (VNA) and then pulling them back out when they’re needed. That’s pretty much all they can do—help providers move images around. In a world where sharing data for improved referral management and better patient care is increasingly important, healthcare organizations need smarter systems that do more than just move or store images.
We are focusing our efforts on what we call the “reconstructed PACS,” which represents one of the most exciting advances in the evolution of PACS because of the ability to go beyond simply managing images.
Here are the core benefits of reconstructed PACS and the reasons why this is significant advancement for healthcare provider organizations:
For the flipside of this PACS discussion read Distributed, Deconstructed, or Reconstructed: What You Need to Know about Today’s PACS
- Better integration. Reconstructed PACS can integrate with VNAs on unprecedented levels, moving not just the original patient images, but also everything that goes with them such as the annotations and key images. These are needed by the referring physicians, intensivists, and other caregivers to gain a complete picture for better care delivery. The Reconstructed PACS stores the created objects as DICOM standard objects such as key objects, presentation states, audio clips, and reports (as DICOM SR or DICOM PDF). Not only must it create these objects in a DICOM standard manner (not holding them hostage in a proprietary database), but it must also be able to correctly display these same items that would have been created on a different third-party PACS. Reconstructed PACS provides these to the VNA which is typically the repository used by the enterprise clinical viewer (such as iConnect® Access). This enables clinicians to access all of the image resources they need from one location, pull all items together, and share entire patient studies with each other quickly and easily.
- Better quality control. Quality control (QC) editing of studies is a fact of life. Mistakes happen, emergencies occur, names change, etc. QC editing is a necessary process. What is important is that the PACS be able to nearly seamlessly propagate these changes to the VNA, thus avoiding the need to do “double QC” which is inherently error prone and subject to delays and interruptions.
- Less cache. By leveraging faster VNAs, reconstructed PACS can eliminate the need for separate PACS caches. The ability for PACS to operate as a “plug-in” to the VNA completely eliminates duplicative image cache storage. Removing redundant storage not only saves money; it also greatly reduces a significant source of friction in the reading and handling of imaging studies – namely prefetching of and access to prior comparison studies. With PACS systems in place for as many as 20 years, encountering patients with dozens or hundreds of prior studies is now commonplace. Prefetching of dozens or hundreds of prior studies is simply not realistic. This leads to inefficient manual searching for the right prior comparison study or studies. Effective practice requires a VNA that is capable of providing the rapid image access required in a reading environment.
- Reconstructed PACS make it possible to archive and manage complete patient studies for a better care experience and enhanced quality efforts. The technology can even generate new business models for hospitals. Reconstruct your PACS around zealous adherence to DICOM standards, QC enabled workflows, and an eye toward enterprise imaging with a VNA and enterprise viewer.
Please join me at SIIM 2015 for the following presentations:
Look Ma, We Lost all the QA Operations and Annotations in the New PACS
Digital Breast Tomosynthesis: Ready for PACS Prime Time?
Mark Bronkalla is Vice President of Solutions Management at Merge Healthcare. Visit Merge on LinkedIn or Twitter.