A picture archiving and communication system, also known as a PACS system, is a new way for medical centers to manage imaging and reports. A PACS system keeps all of the medical imaging files in a central location that is accessible to all of the authorized physicians and medical care professionals. With an authorized access account, physicians can review the latest digital imaging reports for their patients from any network connection within the facility. With VPN or similar technology, it even makes it possible for physicians to review medical reports from home without having sensitive patient information leave the hospital.
Before you implement a PACS system, have a specialist review the overall network infrastructure to determine which system is the best choice for your network and care demands. Once you identify the best system, consider how best to implement the design so that you can streamline your business practices and save the costs and time involved in printing and transporting images and review reports. You can also eliminate the courier service required to transport the images back and forth.
With a PACS system, the images can be transmitted electronically from the imaging technician to the physician, with notes detailing any concerns or findings. When images are sent with the click of a button, doctors receive the information faster, helping to disseminate information to the patients quicker. With a reduced processing and notification cycle, responsive care can begin quickly and help mediate the dangers and side effects of some conditions.
After implementation, you may want to consider hiring a security specialist to audit your network security. With an integrated system that contains so much personal information about your patients, you should be sure that the network is secure. You should run a high-quality firewall package with digital encryption and other security measures. A network management staff that specializes in network security is an important feature for protecting patient information. Make sure that your system access policies are compliant with the HIPPA regulations designed to keep patient information secure.
Installing a PACS system means that you’ll need additional staff training. Your employees need to understand how to properly use the system. With a specialist who can train you on the package that you chose, you may be able to learn some tips and shortcuts or added features that are not readily accessible without the thorough training.
When you are considering the cost of implementing a PACS system, you should think about the cost savings that will come after the system is functioning. For example, you will save significantly on printing costs as well as savings on payroll for the hours spent printing and organizing the images. When you establish an electronic service, you also save the overhead costs of having the filing and organizational systems, as well as the energy cost related to the printing services. An electronic transmission is faster, and does not require courier services. It also cuts the waiting time for reviews, allowing physicians to see more patients without having a backlog in printing and imaging reviews.
Review the processes at your facility to determine if a PACS system will work for you. Evaluate your current imaging system costs and compare them to the outright cost and the associated savings from a new PACS system. If you can save enough, the PACS system may pay for itself over several years, making it a worthwhile investment. If you are unsure of the return on investment, consider talking with a capital asset accountant to determine the useful life, depreciation costs and overall return on any systems you are considering. Explore all of your options so that you know your business is in the best possible financial position.