Medical Image PACS: Don’t try this at home

Posted by Purview on Apr 2, 2015 11:15:54 AM

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Building your own PACS is not the answer


Storage is one of the simplest parts of computing. That’s why we often find a medical practice’s IT generalist offering to build a bespoke PACS to handle the practice’s medical images.  But, while storing the image files is not rocket science, it’s way more efficient to let an expert organize your PACS.

PACS = medical image access

Many technical professionals approaching the problem focus on technology, arguing over whether DAS, NAS or SAN is a better storage architecture. But this misses the point. Today’s PACS has the opportunity to go much further than simply being an inexpensive repository for medical images.

For an effective PACS today, your images need to always be immediately available to view or share. That means all of your images need to be online.  It’s no longer acceptable to move records (even much older studies) onto disks or tapes for manual archive.  Since the cost of storage continues to decrease, the always-online option has become more affordable.

There are no limits

Image technology is changing quickly. Studies that used to require 100 megabytes of storage have exploded to ten to twenty times more. Establishing fixed storage volume without considering expansion is a prescription for surprise capital expenditures. Buying too much storage in advance subjects you to overpaying for today’s storage as memory prices decline.

Manual backup is fallible

It is no longer acceptable to rely on manual intervention to backup or archive a PACS.  We have all found those systems too susceptible to human failure.  Up-to-date PACS must archive automatically and must store copies in multiple locations to avoid localized disasters.

Integration is required

To be really effective, the PACS must be able to serve up studies to enable integration with patient health records or other clinical systems – requested with a unique patient identifier. A siloed PACS inhibits the ability to combine views of these images with the patient’s other records. A standalone PACS makes it difficult to share images with consulting physicians, specialists for second opinions, or your patients themselves.

More secure than encryption

Secure means more than just encrypted to comply with HIPAA and other government regulations.  It also means stored securely.  We’ve witnessed far too many “inside” jobs where the security breached was simply an unlocked door.  Images must be securely stored in a facility that is not physically accessible to even your own personnel.

Don’t just store your images! Make them safe and available in a professionally secured, disaster-proof, on-line, expandable, and shareable environment built specifically for medical professionals like you. 

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