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Introducing Enterprise PACS and Image Management and Distribution Blog

May 16, 2008
by Joe Marion
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Welcome! This is my first installment to what I hope will be a successful blog on Enterprise Image Management and Distribution! I want to take this opportunity to thank Healthcare Informatics for inviting me to Blog on their web site. I hope this will prove to be a meaningful forum for raising the awareness level of an emerging issue for healthcare IT professionals.

In this first installment, I would like to set the stage for future discussion by providing a bit more background on myself, as well as the topics I would like to discuss. I have been involved in healthcare for over thirty-two years now – seems like the blink of an eye, and yes, it’s largely responsible for the gray hair! I started my healthcare career as the Product Planning Manger for GE’s CT business two weeks after the prototype of the CT7800 shipped to UCSF. In seven plus years, I defined requirements for four generations of CT, through the Highlight Advantage (for those of you familiar with CT).

It was during my CT days that the early dialog on PACS began. I recall sitting with the late Sam Dwyer at the University of Kansas listening to him lament over the need for centralized image viewing and archiving for their two GE 7800 scanners. This predates the first SPIE PACS meetings of the early 1980’s, and was instrumental in forming my early opinions of PACS. I went on to become the Marketing Manager for GE’s earliest PACS initiatives – a joint venture with IBM. When IBM backed away in the early 1990’s, I decided it was time for a change and left to start my own PACS consulting business. Besides PACS, I also became one of the first IBM MedSpeak/Radiology resellers in the country, recognizing early on the value of Speech Recognition … but, that’s another whole story.

After fifteen years of consulting on PACS, I have probably been involved with over one hundred clients, assisting with PACS and imaging integration strategies. In the early days of PACS, the biggest issue was connectivity. The concept of PACS was great, but didn’t mean anything if you couldn’t get data into it! As the DICOM standard took hold, emphasis shifted to workstation functionality. Over time, emphasis shifted to workflow and the need for tighter integration with Radiology Information Systems (RIS). And, over the past few years, emphasis, I believe, is shifting again to Enterprise PACS, due to facilities with multiple locations and the emergence of other service areas such as Cardiology with growing digital image management needs. So, as I state in my blog description, PACS is no longer just about Radiology.

So, what exactly constitutes an Enterprise PACS? In the illustration, I have attempted to portray what I believe is the issue facing PACS for the Enterprise. I like to describe PACS as consisting of five key areas: acquisition, workflow, interpretation, distribution, and management. The first three tend to be specific to imaging service areas. Workflow and interpretation requirements for radiology are considerably different than for cardiology or gastroenterology. Therefore, I refer to them as “departmentals.” In the case of image distribution and management, these have classically been part of PACS. I would subscribe that with an Enterprise perspective, emphasis needs to shift to considering them as “Enterprise” requirements, as they should be common to multiple departmental systems to avoid duplication and simplify management.

It is this aspect of the Enterprise that I would like to explore in this blog. IT management needs to play a role in PACS and image management, and over the course of this blog, I will explore various aspects of this from a consultant’s perspective. The purpose will be to educate and share concepts to assist IT professionals in better coping with the integration of imaging into the IT landscape. This will range from technical to operational to managerial topics – some may be controversial, some may not. Hopefully, this will prove to be worthwhile, and help raise the awareness level, as I truly believe that this topic is where PACS was a decade ago. We can all learn from our experiences and make the transition to digital that much easier.

I look forward to sharing my viewpoints with you! Stay tuned!

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Joe Marion

Founder and Principal, Healthcare Integration Strategies

Joe Marion

www.hisconsultant.com

Joe Marion is founder and Principal of Healthcare Integration Strategies, specializing in the...