Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) is a medical imaging technology that enables the remote retrieval of medical images and related data. Furthermore, PACS will use software and hardware to collect, store, and retrieve medical images with the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standard.
Hospitals no longer need to store images in expensive, labor-intensive physical film archives because of PACS, which supports various image types. Thus, a PACS will also enable the medical personnel to safely and remotely view all the images stored on the system.
This greatly accelerates communication between various departments and results in quicker patient diagnoses. Meanwhile, if the Picture Archiving and Communication System sounds like what you might be interested in, keep reading this article.
Table of Contents
What is PACS?
PACS system is a high-speed computer network system for storing, recovering, and displaying radiologic images. These images include endoscopy, positron emission tomography, computed tomography, x-ray, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging.
It is a medical imaging technology that replaces traditional films with digital images and offers affordable storage and convenient access to images from many modalities.
Additionally, it ties the imaging study report to the imaging study, enabling simultaneous viewing of the images and the corresponding report. Further, the PACS system solves issues with conventional film technology.
For instance, films are only ever available in one location at a time and are usually linked to delays in patient care when the treating physician cannot access them immediately. So, any computer connected to the system can display patient studies.
Types of PACS
The following are the various types of Picture Archiving and Communication Systems:
- Digital radiography
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Positron emission tomography (PET)
- Computed tomography (CT)
Who Uses Picture Archiving and Communication Systems?
PACS is a medical imaging system. So, it is used in hospitals and healthcare settings. Before PACS, all medical images had to be manually stored, retrieved, and displayed because they were all kept in film archives.
This bottleneck seriously hampered the provider’s capacity to give effective, high-quality care by causing a delay between the time the image was taken, its interpretation, and the consequent diagnosis of the patient’s illness.
Therefore, any contemporary hospital or healthcare facility must have PACS since it can greatly lessen this delay.
See also: The Evolution of Healthcare Call Centers
How Are PACS Images Stored?
DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine), which is used by hospitals all over the world to store, exchange, and transfer medical images, is the industry standard for PACS image storage.
Additionally, DICOM defines the standards for medical images that can be exchanged with the quality and data required for clinical use. A file format definition plus a network communications protocol make up the standard.
Further, a PACS system can accommodate several image formats from various medical imaging devices, including digital radiography, ultrasound, and more.
The ability to add new picture types at any moment gives PACS a significant benefit because it allows you to keep the system current as medical imaging technology advances.
Uses of Picture Archiving and Communication Systems
Interestingly, PACS has a feature that offers a platform you can combine with other medical technology systems. This improves its capabilities.
So, let’s look at the uses of the PACS system in healthcare:
- Storage and retrieval: PACS can store and retrieve medical images from different sources, such as ultrasound machines, MRI machines, CT scanners, and x-ray machines. Therefore, doctors and other healthcare professionals can easily access the images they need whenever they need them.
- Transmission: Picture Archiving and Communication Systems can transmit medical images and related data to other places through a network. Thus, doctors and other healthcare personnel can share images with their colleagues for consultation. Or, they can send images to patients for their records.
- Workflow management: It can help to enhance the efficiency of medical imaging workflows by automating tasks like reporting and image routing.
- Viewing and analysis: Picture Archiving and Communication System provides various tools for reviewing and analyzing medical images. This can assist doctors to identify and diagnose medical conditions more accurately
- Education and research: You can use PACS to support education and research by providing access to a large database of medical images.
What Are The Benefits of Picture Archiving and Communication Systems?
The following are the benefits of using the PACS system:
- Increased fusion of facilities and departments.
- Immediate image viewing.
- Enhanced productivity.
- Remote image viewing.
- Improved diagnosis.
- Lower costs.
- Several types of medical images are supported.
- Enhanced patient care.
- Medical students can easily access top-quality images.
- Durable, top-quality images.
- Improved accuracy.
The PACS system consists of four components.
- Imaging modalities: These include MRI, CT, PET, and ultrasound among others.
- Safe network: To prevent data breaches and malicious attacks, the network through which images are transmitted must be safe.
- Physical workstations: To access and display the images, healthcare personnel need PACS workstations. These workstations are hardware components.
- Archives: The primary storage devices are PACS image archives. The images are stored in these archives along with any supplementary data that is pertinent to the images (measurements, reports, patient information, etc.).
A cloud-based PACS system uses a remote cloud computing service. These systems typically allow healthcare practitioners to access the images from various devices, including mobile phones and tablets.
They are also versatile, highly scalable, and secure. Most importantly, the task of deploying, supporting, maintaining, and updating the PACS system is removed from the hospital IT staff.
Further, the hospital’s IT department oversees local servers that are used to host conventional PACS systems. However, finding enough storage space for the massive volumes of data that these typical PACS systems generate and retain can occasionally be difficult for healthcare organizations and hospitals.
These systems’ maintenance and support might also cause technical challenges and require the team to include specialized IT personnel. However, using a cloud-based PACS can be a workable alternative.
Check out these examples of cloud-based PACS:
Picture Archiving and Communication System is a digital system that stores, retrieves, and transmits medical images and related data. It is a helpful tool for healthcare facilities and organizations of all sizes. Thus, it can help to enhance the efficiency, accuracy, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness of medical imaging.
Furthermore, Picture Archiving and Communication System is a rapidly evolving technology, and new features and applications are being developed all the time. As the PACS system becomes more widely adopted, it is likely to have an even greater impact on the delivery of healthcare services.