Thanks to advanced technology, the medical imaging sector has become different from what it was years ago. As a fact, medical imaging has overseen the implementation of advanced technology that has made imaging easier and more accurate. With this technology, images captured from patients are stored in special formats known as Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine. Images stored in this format are of high quality and can be viewed through specialized viewers, known as DICOM viewers. However, to view these images and archive them, one needs a special software known as PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System).
What is PACS
How can you define PACS? Picture Archiving and Communication System PACS is a medical imaging technology that healthcare providers use to store and transmit electronic images and other relevant clinical reports. PACS Software development and its subsequent usage eliminates the need to manually file, retrieve, store, and share patient-sensitive information contained in reports and films. Additionally, with PACS, medical documents and images can be securely housed in different off-site servers and accessed from any point in the world through mobile devices and workstations.
Features to Know Before Finding the Right PACS Software Vendor
When purchasing PACS software, there are various features that a buyer should consider before settling on a PACS software vendor. Some of these features are as follows.
Sum up the Issues and Benefits of your Current PACS
If you have an active PACS system, you should assess its functionality and decide whether you need to upgrade to a better version. For instance, you may want to consider the issues you face with your current software and its benefits.
Most PACS viewers are compatible with different operating systems. For instance, there are those compatible with Mac OS and others compatible with Windows OS. Therefore, if your current PACS radiology system is not compatible with either of the aforementioned operating systems, it may be advisable to replace it. On the other hand, the overall storage space of your PACS software should be a point of consideration. You may consider its RAM speed, hard disk space, and, most importantly, the processor. If the issues you encounter with your PACS software are based on system storage or speed, it may be advisable to upgrade to software that matches the aforementioned features.
Calculate your Annual Support Fees
Many PACS vendors have high annual support fees, while others charge extra for system upgrades. On the other hand, there are those vendors who have incredibly low prices. While looking for a pocket-friendly vendor, it is advisable to be cautious when getting services from vendors with extremely low support fees. This can be attributed to the fact that low prices may be indicative of the absence of affordable staff who you may need to offer assistance when the need arises. As a point of advice, always look for vendors with reasonable prices and a readily-available help desk support.
How Long Has the Software Provider Been In this Business?
One thing about PACS system vendors is that it is a very competitive market. Therefore, it should not be a surprise when you come across a high number of vendors selling the same product at different prices. Therefore, as a point of advice, always deal with vendors who have been in the market for years and those with good customer retention. For instance, it is advisable to check the portfolio of your preferred vendor and decide whether the vendor matches your preferences. In addition, some vendors offer solutions that cover a wide range of issues that impact the PACS while also providing easy upgrades.
Does the Vendor Provide Modality Support?
Modality support is any form of extra support that a vendor provides besides the common support. For example, vendors may opt to offer mammography in addition to ultrasound, computed tomography, and standard X-ray. When you purchase PACS from your vendor, inquire to find out whether these tools come with the PACS or they are add-ons that require you to pay extra charges. Additionally, be on the lookout for any hidden charges.
Is their PACS User-friendly and Comprehensible?
When buying PACS software, you should consider how effective the vendor is when delivering its services. This is important because finding a vendor with a fast turnaround time with minimal mouse clicks may not be as easy as most people may think. On the contrary, most are the times when you will spend a majority of your time searching for a reputable and readily-available vendor. Always be on the lookout for a vendor who is willing to share information on their products and one who understands what you need based on your target services.
Is the PACS Built with Innovative Technologies?
If you want to capture and store high-quality images, you must be ready to spend more money on PACS software that comes equipped with innovative technologies. For example, an excellent PACS should come with a detailed imaging dataset that supports the storage of multiple images without distorting their quality. Additionally, good PACS software should allow you to edit or reconstruct images from the datasets.
Does the Vendor Offer Scalability and Integration Capabilities?
Regardless of whether you are a large enterprise or a small imaging facility, you must choose a vendor who offers scalability and integration capabilities for your business. Some vendors may offer solutions that cover different areas of practice, while other vendors may be limited. Look for vendors offering PACS to radiology information systems, those with license change options, and those with technological options that support unified worklists as well as parallel PACS.
What are the Most Important Points in a PACS Software Vendor
Some of the crucial points to consider in a PACS software vendor are such as;
Identifying the stakeholders involved and ensuring everyone gets the chance to provide their input. These stakeholders include physicians, IT resources, imaging technologists, and PACS administrators.
Decide how you would prefer your PACS system to perform in the future. This may include considering features that enhance service delivery while maintaining a high level of privacy.
Determine the challenges involved and inform the vendor. This is vital because it provides the vendor with tangible information that may be used to facilitate PACS integration.
Does the vendor offer cloud-based, on-premise, or hybrid systems? It is essential to consider this point because not every vendor will give you a system that supports these data storage options.
What are the costs involved in maintaining the PACS system? Every facility, regardless of whether it is small or large, will always consider the fees needed to maintain and keep the PACS system in check. As such, always look for a vendor who offers pocket-friendly prices. Additionally, always consider the level of support provided and inquire whether the support comes with added charges.
Key Steps to Selecting a PACS Vendor
The following are the key steps to consider when selecting a PACS software vendor.
- Involve stakeholders within and outside the organization
- Decide how you would prefer your PACS software to function
- Define the challenges you want the software to address
- Identify a realistic implementation timeline
- Select the PACS system vendor and negotiate the costs involved
Based on the information collected, it can be concluded by stating that PACS plays a vital role in the healthcare department and that those mandated with buying them should always consider some of the points discussed in this article. Additionally, it is the responsibility of the buyer to conduct a PACS vendor comparison before settling on a vendor who they believe will offer the best PACS.