· Emerging Resources for PACS Professionals
· Tech Zoom: Adobe Introduces Photoshop CS3 Extended
· Tech Zoom: BridgeWave Communications Connects New York-Area Medical Centers Across 2 Miles of Water

Emerging Resources for PACS Professionals

by Renee DiIulio

With the advent of PACS came the need for PACS administrators. Yet because the technology was new, there was no pool of PACS administrators from which to draw, so many in the field acquired the necessary skill set and knowledge on the job. A survey conducted by the Thomas Group Ltd, Anaheim, Calif, found that roughly 40% of people in PACS administration were not PACS administrators previously but had an IT or radiology background.

Charged with managing the PACS, its databases, use, compliance, and interfaces with other systems, PACS administrators can be challenged in meeting their workflow and technical needs. To help these newly emergent professionals, tools?in the form of both technology and education?are also emerging.

A new certification program in development by the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) is helping to define what PACS administrators do and the knowledge and skills they need. The test will be implemented and managed by the American Board of Imaging Informatics and is expected to be offered first in September. The goal of the program is to set competencies that provide both imaging informatics (PACS) professionals and employers with the confidence that the certified individual has been equipped to perform their job responsibilities.

“The profession didn’t exist in 1998. But as it grows and we anticipate more hospitals transitioning to PACS, there will be an increased need for administrators?people who know and understand the systems. There needs to be a mechanism of assessing qualification of people’s ability,” said Anna Marie Mason, SIIM’s executive director.

The content outline for the new Certified Imaging Informatics Professional (CIIP) test includes 10 domain areas: procurement, project management, operations, communications, training and education, image management, information technology, systems management, clinical engineering, and medical informatics. Professionals can discover what they need to know through available resources that include education, conferences, user groups, publications, trade magazines, and journals.

SIIM offers it all. Its annual meeting, to be held this month (June 7 to 10) in Providence, RI, includes a revamped preconference course for imaging informatics professionals oriented toward the CIIP test content outline. Additional resources include the SIIM/SCAR University Digital Medical Enterprise Primer series, the Journal of Digital Imaging, the Imaging Informatics Administration Symposium Course Syllabus, and an online expert hotline.

In the past, PACS training was typically provided by the equipment vendors and taught users on specific systems. “PACS administrative courses are becoming increasingly popular,” said Dawn McClure, worldwide service business and product line manager, HCIS solutions, Carestream Health Inc, Rochester, NY. But she added that she is surprised there are not more. Vendor-specific courses are helpful for a system’s users. “These will review the nuances of your system in particular,” McClure said. User groups can also be helpful. “Forums are available where people can use peers as a sounding board,” she said.

Technology can pick up where education leaves off, providing tools to increase efficiency and performance. “I would say that 90% of the population has many of the same problems and that they are looking to solve them with automation. They don’t have internal resources, such as more staff, and need help maintaining the system so they can achieve their productivity or profitability goals,” McClure said.

New dashboard systems seek to provide PACS administrators with both high-level and detailed views, allowing them to be proactive. The Kodak Carestream Digital Dashboard can help users manage their compatible PACS systems as well as RIS and information management. The dashboard permits administrators to monitor devices, users, and studies from their desk. “The systems alert PACS administrators when something is wrong, usually before the user has even noticed, allowing them to address the issue efficiently,” McClure said.

Reports can help to plan workflow or improve processes. McClure shared that Carestream Health is developing a business metrics dashboard (still unnamed), which will provide forecasting. “Users can forecast growth, resource needs, and economics, such as potential losses associated with a modality downtime,” McClure said. The system will also offer security management to permit greater efficiency in maintaining HIPAA compliance. “The system could flag when someone is in an area they should not be in,” McClure said.

Dashboards are becoming a popular tool, and more products can be expected to come on the market. “PACS is complex. There are a lot of interfaces and internal and external customers to support. Some systems can have 1,000 inputs feeding into a system, making it difficult to manage proactively,” McClure said. Dashboards permit PACS administrators to better use their knowledge and skills acquired through education and on the job to maximize productivity, efficiency, and proactivity.

Renee DiIulio is a contributing writer for  Medical Imaging. For more information, contact .

Adobe Introduces Photoshop CS3 Extended

On March 27, Adobe Systems Inc, San Jose, Calif, began shipping the latest version of its popular Photoshop image-manipulation software?Photoshop CS3 Extended. Photoshop CS3 E contains a variety of new capabilities, including tools designed to meet the needs of medical imaging professionals.

“There is now the capability, in Photoshop CS3, to bring in DICOM images,” explained Joseph Bailey, MD, of Montgomery Radiology Associates in Alabama. “That has never been available before, so the only option for anybody who works with radiographic images was to essentially take the JPEG images they got from the proprietary imaging software and work with them. Now we have a significant increase in the quality of published images.”

Bailey said that as a teaching aid, CS3 E is without peer in the world of image-manipulation software. “You now have the ability to use layers, so when you’re creating lectures, and you want to speak to medical students today, to residents tomorrow, and at a national meeting in a week, you don’t have to change your images,” he said. “You can just change the layered labels on your images to fit each particular audience.”

Portability is another major advantage of the software, which runs on any PC or Mac. “Before, any time you wanted to work with your images, you were stuck at a PACS workstation or your EMR,” Bailey noted. “Now you can get the images onto your laptop and take them with you. I think that’s going to be really attractive to a lot of teaching professionals, because if you can get your high-bit images into Photoshop as high-bit images, you can work from a lot of different places.”

Exclusive tools are a boon to any imaging professional. One area where workstations are lacking, Bailey says, is Hunter and Driffield curve control. “In the proprietary imaging software, you can control window and levels, but you can’t really control the curves, and everybody who goes through the radiology physics class knows that these control how much highlight and how much shadow detail you can see. You can control that in Photoshop.” Other tools include the ability to crop and label animation, and color assignment for accurate conversion from full-color images to grayscale.

All of which adds up to the ability to render images for a wide variety of purposes?from screen projection in a hotel ballroom to use on a project’s Web site to publication in a journal. “People are used to being told, ‘Here’s the JPEG, we’ll send it in,’ and then when they get the journal, they say, ‘Well, you can’t really see what it is I was trying to show,’ ” Bailey said. “There’s such a level of expectation in the radiology world that when you publish a radiograph, it just won’t show what you want it to show. That whole perception is about to change.”

Photoshop CS3 E is shipping now, or can be downloaded by CS2 users on the Adobe Labs Web site at labs.adobe.com.

?C. Vasko

BridgeWave Communications Connects New York-Area Medical Centers Across 2 Miles of Water

BridgeWave Communications Inc, Santa Clara, Calif, has developed a new family of high-speed, gigabit wireless links featuring extended-range solutions, enabling high network uptime and improved GigE performance. The first point-to-point licensed outdoor wireless products to deliver “four nines” or better link availability at distances of more than 2 miles, the Gigabit Ethernet 80GHz Extended Range (GE80X) and AdaptRate 80GHz Extended Range (AR80X) are in use by Bayonne Medical Center, Bayonne, NJ, which can now share critical health care data and IT systems with Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) across the water in Staten Island.

“Our new extended-range product line sets the standard for bandwidth capacity and network availability,” said BridgeWave Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Gregg Levin. “With these new products, we are exceeding our customers’ expectations for network speed, security, and availability.”

BridgeWave’s new wireless links include 2-foot antennas, which reach 40% farther than previous products, and narrow antenna beamwidths, offering enhanced data security as well as interference and interception immunity. The AR80X model also has the capability to momentarily switch the link from GigE to 100 mbps transmission, offering continuous operating?even during intense downpours.

The new AR80X system is in use by Bayonne Medical Center as part of its networking plan, under which it will consolidate its IT services with newly acquired RUMC. The projected cost for building a separate data center to support RUMC was more than $1 million, and a bandwidth-constrained 45 mbps leased-line solution would accrue more than $5,000 in monthly fees. Neither 52 mbps wireless radios nor optical wireless met the hospitals’ reliability or distance requirements, and the system needed to be HIPAA compliant. AR80X easily bridges the 2.25-mile distance between the two hospitals.

Available now from BridgeWave’s partners worldwide, GE80X starts at $36,900 and AR80X starts at $39,900.

?C. Vasko