A PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) is an enterprise-level software system that aids in the electronic storage and transmission of medical imagery including diagnostics and radiology. The primary advantage of PACS is that it allows for a patient’s care team to work with an efficient imaging solution while also improving convenience and accessibility.
By using a PACS, a clinic can reasonably access multiple imaging technologies (e.g., ultrasounds, MRIs, x-rays, CT scans, etc.) and rapidly transmit the images to multiple locations, whether it’s an office down the hall, a patient, or a specialist in another country.
Although the PACS concept has existed since the 1970s, today’s digital systems have brought a lot of improvements to these systems. PACS functionality is often a component of a more extensive healthcare IT system, such as an EHR (electronic healthcare record) or radiology information system (RIS).
Components of a PACS
A PACS has the ability to improve the quality and delivery of patient care by allowing professionals to share and assess imagery from anywhere rapidly. However, the implementation of a PACS requires multiple components, starting with digital devices integrated with it, which may consist of ultrasound, X-ray, or some other radiology machines.
Once the image is taken, an image acquisition device is used to transmit it to a storage device or server. The image can then be assessed using a display station, such as an imaging workstation, where they can view the image and show it to the patient as needed. They can also create discs to provide to a patient for medical record keeping.
Depending on the clinic’s need, some additional equipment may be necessary, such as a means of scanning or photographing hard copy images to upload them to the digital database. Likewise, special printers may be necessary to produce hard copies of digital images with accuracy. Most clinics will also choose to interface the system with a radiology information system (RIS), electronic health record (EHR), and/or a hospital information system (HIS).
While the PACS feature set depends on the manufacturer, hardware, and software, four basic components appear in most systems. These include:
- Imaging: Hardware captures or scans a medical image.
- Database: Digital images transfer to a database for storage.
- Viewing: Healthcare professionals use a dedicated workstation or mobile device to view and study the image.
- Archiving: The image and supporting documents move to archive storage for later retrieval.
When part of a comprehensive healthcare IT system, the image metadata and reports from PACS integrate into a patient’s medical record.
The Benefits of PACS
PACS streamlines the process of producing, viewing, and storing medical images. Rather than copious filing cabinets full of x-rays, other medical images, and reports, digital imaging optimizes the process. As a result, professionals can access patient data more efficiently as needed.
Digitally viewing medical images also offers more features than traditional methods. For example, enlarging and rotating images allows for a more detailed analysis of scans, offering providers a complete view. PACS also opens up the possibility of working with 3D images and integrating AI assistance.
Avoiding the need to print films and acquire storage space also adds to financial savings. In addition, cloud-based systems make images available anywhere there’s an internet connection, which is an accessibility improvement.
How TempDev Can Help You Integrate a PACS
TempDev’s team of NextGen consultants, developers, and trainers can help you implement, switch, or even upgrade your current EHR system. From dashboards, templates, and reports to revenue cycle consulting, automation, and workflow redesign, TempDev offers the tools you need to make the most of your NextGen EHR system.
Our team is here to help you design, organize, and implement the whole system, with top tips and guidance based on industry best practices.
Contact us here or call us at 888.TEMP.DEV to get the help you need to integrate with a PACS.