Dr. John Mathieson, clinical director of PACS (left) and David Grimm, network section head, both of Vancouver Island Health Authority in Victoria, B.C., Canada, work with a network that incorporates nuclear medicine, MRI, CT, angiography, ultrasound and x-ray.

It’s a minefield out there! No, not the Middle East — we’re talking networks. Bigger, faster, and more expensive every day, they’re also rife with potential hazards. Is your organization up to speed on the latest developments?

It should be, if it’s on the ever-growing list of facilities that are, or will be, homes to networks. A representative cross section is VHA Inc., a member-owned healthcare cooperative in Irving, Texas. VHA surveyed 300 of its shareholder and partner organizations and found that 29 percent already have picture archiving and communications systems (PACS), and another 47 percent intend to purchase one.

Right now, 45 percent of 400-plus bed hospitals have a shared archive, says IMV Medical Information Division (Des Plaines, Ill.). Frost and Sullivan (San Jose, Calif.) expect 65 percent of all hospitals to have PACS by 2007. The average amount budgeted in 2002 for PACS in 200-plus bed hospitals was $2.1 million, nearly triple the budget from three years earlier. In 2001 alone, healthcare spent $18.2 billion on telecommunications, a figure that could reach $24.1 billion by 2005.

That’s a lot of networking dollars. Don’t throw away any of them on mistakes you can avoid. Here’s what experts say.

Measure twice, cut once
What’s the word if you’re in the planning stages? Get it right the first time, says Chris Petillo, PAC systems manager for Mount Sinai NYU Health in New York City, is planning a hospital network — a big one.

Petillo says, “We have more than one hospital joining in on NYU’s PACS. We have the NYU Medical Center, the NYU School of Medicine, and the outpatient centers. Going down the road we’ll also have the Hospital for Joint Diseases. We might have NYU Downtown Hospital and some other places as well. We also have four or five little outpatient centers scattered that have T1s that are being upgraded to wireless.

Please refer to the February 2003 issue for the complete story. For information on article reprints, contact Martin St. Denis