Five Ways Your PAC System Is Killing Your Productivity

PAC Systems are intended to make your practice more efficient, but choosing the wrong vendor could end up negating the efficiency that PACS technology was supposed to provide. The following are some of the ways that your PAC system could harm your productivity:

Segregated Reports

Is your PAC system still using a non-integrated report mechanism? As long as your PAC system is stuck on a report mechanism that keeps images and reporting tools separate, you will continue to spend valuable time sorting and searching for patients’ medical records. This not only impedes the level of care and attention you are able to give your patients, but there is also the potential for misappropriation of sensitive medical data. Save yourself time—and liability—by employing a PACS that offers integrated reporting as part of its package.

Single Machine Use

Are you only able to access and transmit medical information from a single, onsite machine? The promise of a PAC System to grant you easier access to medical data is limited if that information can only be sourced from a single, onsite machine.

Single Server Use

Is your PACS data stored on a single server that can only be accessed from one location? If your PACS data is housed on a single server, your ability to source and transmit medical information is directly related to your proximity to that server, which is a detriment to productivity. In recent years, there has been a significant departure from traditional onsite server use to cloud-based storage for PAC systems. With the cloud model, you will be able to access and transmit medical data securely from practically anywhere and potentially with any device, including tablets and smartphones.

Lack of Vendor Neutral Archiving Capability

Is your PAC system able to interpret medical information from other systems? Your productivity could be obstructed if your PAC system is only able to decipher images and reports that are compatible with its system. Your inability to translate a medical report from a different PAC system directly affects how well you are able to dispense medical attention because it slows down vital external communications with other specialists.

Limited Data Storage Options

Are you limited by how much data can be stored on your PAC system? With the numerous options for unlimited storage, your PAC system should not be restricted in its storage capacity. Employ a PACS vendor that uses cloud-based storage, which is virtually limitless, to ensure that you are not spending valuable time and resources in maintaining the appropriate storage bandwidth for your practice.

Your PAC system should help you create a culture of optimal service and high efficiency at your practice, not hinder your productivity. Use this knowledge to ensure that you are implementing the right PAC system for your practice.

Where PAC Systems Are Headed in the Next Five Years

PAC systems allow for the storage and convenient access to images from multiple sources. Moreover, because PAC systems transmit information digitally, items such as manual storage, file retrieval, and the physical delivery of medical files are now virtually extinct. Even with these advances, PAC systems continue to improve as new technologies emerge. Here are a few ways in which PAC systems are expected to change in the next five years:

Anywhere, Anytime Access

Although medical imaging has come a long way from film jackets and other physical copies of information, there is still room for improvement in how PAC systems make information accessible to physicians and patients. Combined with available and emerging web technology, PAC systems are expected to further enhance anywhere-and-anytime access through information sharing using cloud storage. The move from onsite storage to cloud-based storage will allow physicians access to medical records from virtually anywhere—at home, at work, and from smartphones and tablets. This eliminates the physical and time barriers associated with being tethered to a single onsite storage medium. Users will be able to access medical data at any time and from anywhere that has Internet availability.

Cloud Storage

Most PAC systems use onsite storage on a single server to store information. Recently, however, there has been a departure from this traditional storage method to cloud-based storage, which houses data virtually and permits access to the data via the Internet. As this new method of storage continues to gain popularity, PAC vendors are expected to move from on-premise, single access storage systems to the cloud model. Moreover, because cloud storage is easily scalable, storage will expand to cope with increased use, making data storage practically unlimited.

New Compliance Capabilities

The security of stored data and data in transit has always been a concern when handling sensitive information on the cloud. As a result, PAC system security and compliance capabilities are consistently evolving to inhibit unauthorized access, use, error, or information loss. PAC system vendors continue to fine tune the technology to ensure that patient confidentiality is respected at all times. As PACS technology gradually develops over the next few years, physicians, technicians, and administrators can expect to observe stricter adherence to the privacy safeguards presented in the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Moreover, data loss will become a thing of the past because information will not be limited to a single server that is susceptible to crashes and other unexpected malfunctions.

Integrated Reporting

The future of PACS technology also includes integrated reporting. With the functionality built in to notate and make edits, physicians and other health administrators can ensure that they are responsibly linking information to correct patient records. Integrated reporting will also eliminate misappropriation of sensitive medical information and enhance the level of care that physicians are able to afford their patients, particularly in diagnosing disease.

Vendor Neutral Archiving

Vendor neutral archiving is steadily establishing itself as part of the medical imaging technology mainstream. With vendor neutral archiving, physicians and other medical administrators will not be limited to viewing only those images and documents that are compatible with their system. Instead, all information of any clinical relevance will be stored and readily available in a standard format with a standard interface that can be interpreted by any medical imaging system available.

Even though PAC system technology is light years ahead of film jackets and paper folders, much of its potential is still being developed. However, this is good news, because as PACS technology continues to grow, so will the quality of medical services.

Nine Capabilities Your PAC System Should Have

Outfitting your practice with a PAC system can be a significant investment. As such, its benefits should bring a tremendous amount of value to your practice. To help you source the right vendor for your office, we have compiled a list of nine capabilities your PAC system should have.

1. Integrated Image Review and Reporting

In the past, reports and their respective images were kept separate, but as PACS technology has evolved, report integration has become more important. Integrated image review and reporting means that your PAC system is not in danger of misappropriating sensitive medical information. It also increases efficiency because study data can be populated directly into the report.

2. Seamless Network Integration

To have a truly central repository for all documents with any clinical relevance, you want your PAC system to be able to access any image from any system or network. Additionally, you want a PAC system that can be implemented easily and with minimal disruption to the current pace of your practice.

3. Multi-modality

Your PAC system should have the capability to conveniently access and store images from multiple modalities, such as digital x-ray’s, tomographic images, magnetic resonance images (MRIs), and so forth. This will eliminate the need for other image storage media and minimize the time spent searching and organizing patient records suitably.

4. Anywhere, Anytime Access

Your PAC system should offer capabilities for off-site viewing and reporting. It should also enable colleagues and other specialists in different physical locations to simultaneously access the same patient data in a timely manner.

5. Editing Tools

PACS technology offers the ability to notate images, highlight text, and perform any number of editing functions within patient records. Ensure that your intended PACS vendor offers this capability as part of its package to further streamline and improve your workflow and productivity.

6. HIPAA Compliance Capabilities

Respecting patient confidentiality is of the utmost importance. Consequently, your PAC system must adhere strictly to the prescribed privacy safeguards of the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Your system should provide password-protected access to encrypted data, and only those with the proper authority should be able to access PACS data via the Internet.

7. Secure Web Delivery

When investing in a new cloud-based PAC system, ensure that your provider has appropriate security measures in place, especially in cases where a private cloud is not part of the package. You should be able to track and record data for auditing purposes. Additionally, data that is in transit must be encrypted using Secure Socket Layer (SSL), and web connections should use https: protocols to inhibit the activity of hackers.

8. Historic Comparisons

Most traditional PAC systems do not offer simple historic comparisons of patient information. However, to ensure that you are providing the best, individualized care and attention to your patients, it is imperative that your PAC system have the capability to house all past and present medical data for each patient in one electronic portfolio. Past conditions may sometimes dictate the best plan of action for a patient’s current complaint. As a result, historic comparisons are vital for accurate diagnoses.

9. Customization

You PAC system should be fully customizable to fit your needs. Your intended PACS vendor should offer custom interface development services to meet your unique specifications. Just as all patients must be treated individually, your PAC system should not be a one-size-fits-all mechanism.

Eight Things You Can Stop Worrying About With a Cloud PAC System

As web technology has evolved, the storage and sharing capabilities of cloud-based PAC Systems have made the management of privileged medical information more convenient and economical while remaining secure and compliant.

Below are a few things you’ll never have to worry about if you switch to a cloud-based PAC system:

1. You don’t have to worry about accessing patient data only at the office

With cloud-based data storage, you can access information anywhere and at anytime. Cloud storage eliminates the physical and time barriers associated with being tethered to a single onsite storage medium.

2. You don’t have to worry about on-site server maintenance

With cloud-based data storage, you won’t have to spend valuable time and resources maintaining cumbersome equipment or having a technical support unit on retainer.

3. You don’t have to worry about being locked into a single system or server

The ubiquitous and convenient nature of cloud-based PAC systems means that you won’t be restricted to a single system or server. Internal team members and external colleagues and specialists will be able to easily access the same data simultaneously, eliminating any wait time and increasing expediency in communications.

4. You don’t have to worry about upfront payments

Setting up an on-site system for all your PACS needs could mean substantial upfront costs. But with cloud-based PACS, those costs can be avoided. Most cloud-based PACS vendors offer a range of payment options, including monthly payments, per study payments, and one-time fees. Based on how the system will be used in your office, you have the option of choosing which payment option is most suitable for you.

5. You don’t have to worry about problems when sharing files with reading physicians and collaborators

Cloud-based PAC systems make information sharing easy and expeditious. From the cloud and with the appropriate access rights, you can share and receive files from multiple modalities, in any format, and from any interface.

6. You don’t have to worry about disaster recovery plans and maintenance

Because the cloud model makes your PACS data accessible from anywhere and at any time, you won’t have to worry about creating and implementing a control for disaster recovery and maintenance. If you’re unable to access data on one device or browser, it is an easy fix to simply switch to another device or browser.

7. You don’t have to worry about installing physical software

A cloud-based PAC system does not require physical installation of the software. Implementing an office-wide system switch is as easy as opening a web browser and typing in the location of your cloud storage.

8. You don’t have to worry about ensuring the security of your PAC system

Your PACS vendor is responsible for ensuring that all data that is being transmitted and used over the web is encrypted and protected appropriately even if you are using a shared network. Because you no longer have to worry about the security of your PACS and the safety of the information stored therein, you can devote even more of your time to providing the best, comprehensive medical care available.