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Computer-based systems (PACS) that can collect, store, archive and retrieve images and data in digital format from single or multiple modalities (CT, MRI, US, CR, DR, nuclear medicine, etc). These systems are used in medical centers in conjunction with the HIS and RIS and serves as a major tool for clinical routine work. These systems enable telemedicine consultations.
1. Buyers of Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) may need to provide assistance to physicians in adapting to soft-copy images and reports. Some physicians may resist reading reports and reviewing images on monitors, preferring tangible recording of data.
2. The following requirements apply for PACS: unlimited concurrent user support, potentially unlimited long-term and on-demand storage capacity, a proven encryption system, preferably 128-bit SSL.
3. Suppliers of PACS are responsible for supporting users in the following methods: 24/7 telephone support, on-site support within one day, training upon installation, remote system monitoring, and remote system updates.
4. PACS Suppliers offer many software features that add functionality to the systems. In general, a Picture Archiving and Communication System will better serve the facility when it has more functionality.
5. Some of the important PACS software features include workstation-independent user log-ins, administrator-controlled work lists, and automatic notification of prior exams.
6. A web-based image access is another requirement for PACS, with a variety of image manipulation tools and patient search tools.
7. Both lossless and lossy compression of images should be offered. It should have GUI-based tools for patient and hardware management, automatic fail-over of critical components, and a UPS standard power backup.
8. If the PACS system fails, there should be an automatic alert.
9. The database should automatically be backed up at least once an hour .
10. These systems should be able to interface with other hospital systems. A system should feature broker less and bi-directional RIS interfacing, year 4 IHE, and report dictation interfacing, and the supplier should guarantee uptime of at least 99%.
11. To facilitate future additions to the network, all newly purchased equipment must be compatible with the current version of the DICOM standard.
12. Facilities are encouraged to ask DICOM conformance statements from suppliers. These should explain in detail which information objects, service classes, and data encodings are supported by their Image Analysis and Archives systems.
13. The fact that a system meets the requirements of DICOM, does not guarantee that the data is indeed stored in DICOM format. It is important to remember that when migrating data to a new Image Analysis and Archives system.
14. Before purchasing a PACS system, facilities should ask suppliers about the issues surrounding data migration in the future.
15. Buyers should carefully plan the installation of these Image Analysis and Archives systems. Sometimes an entire room may be dedicated to hardware. They should consider airflow and use of floor space and cabling.
16. To prevent hardware damage, sprinklers for fire protection should be replaced by inert gas systems.
17. Additional equipment may be needed to accommodate longer-distance signal connections for PACS. Adding telephone modems or fiber optic lines, as well as any other special equipment, may increase costs and pose design problems.
Before you purchase your PACS, we recommend you ask the seller the following questions: