In the modern health care environment, the term "PACS" describes a wide range of applications. In its broadest implementation, a PACS is an image management component of the hospital information system complex, integrating radiology fully into the information flow of the enterprise and increasing the productivity of the entire patient care process. The ultimate PACS is an enterprise-wide, high-volume, softcopy primary diagnostic system that links together all the facilities of the institution, coordinating patient information from other information systems with the acquisition and storage of imaging studies, and providing that information for diagnosis and clinical review wherever it is required. Subsets of PACS technology, still under the name "PACS," provide productivity solutions to specific clinical and organizational problems like wide-area radiology practice, intrahospital image distribution, and department or process automation.
In the past five years, the PACS has transitioned from a leading-edge innovation to an established technology, with literally hundreds of hospitals using its benefits in small applications, and dozens of hospitals successfully operating in a softcopy primary diagnostic environment.
The acquisition of a large-scale PACS is a major project. This chapter provides high-level guidance in structuring that project as well as practical commentary on specific considerations that are important in product selection.
The key issues in structuring a PACS acquisition project are addressed in Section 12.2. For the first-time PACS buyer, one of the most difficult tasks in the process is to write a full specification. In Section 12.2.4, the specification is considered at a high level and the minimum documentation requirements are defined. Section 12.3 addresses significant issues that should be covered both in specifications and during the evaluation of vendors' proposals.
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