Although any major acquisition involving a facility’s capital budget can lead those involved to focus on the expenditure itself, equipment acquisition is neither the beginning nor the end of the implementation of a picture archiving and communications system (PACS).

The deployment of a PACS must begin with careful, thorough planning that includes an analysis of the needs of the enterprise and its clients; a review of its current flow of patients, work, and information; and an evaluation of its probable future. If conducted properly, planning can serve to anchor the PACS project through any rough weather that might lie ahead; beginning on page 7, readers will note that a comprehensive plan allowed Bronson Methodist Hospital, Kalamazoo, Mich, to withstand, with eMed’s help, even a last-minute PACS vendor change.

During planning, the department or practice will need to decide whether its goals are more compatible with a facility-wide simultaneous conversion to PACS or a gradual deployment over a longer period. At Medical Center Hospital, Odessa, Tex, a stepwise PACS implementation in logical order has been highly successful, as described beginning on page 4.

As PACS elements are made active, however, the individuals who will use and maintain them must be trained to reap maximum efficiency and productivity from them (see page 12). As Bobby Edwards reports, a project manager supplied by the PACS vendor can be a valuable ally not only during training, but throughout PACS implementation.

As training proceeds, work-flow patterns may be changed to become more compatible with PACS. This effort has an additional benefit in that it promotes staff familiarity with electronic data exchange. In turn, this level of comfort paves the way for integration with hospital and radiology information systems, as well as with technologies that use the full capabilities of PACS to their best advantage: voice recognition for reporting and the electronic medical record as a one-stop source of comprehensive patient information (see page 14).

Next Generation Radiology, Great Neck, NY, is a group practice that has taken PACS to the level of complete integration with its other information technologies. Over a 5-year period, this effort has produced an? efficient, productive, and flexible radiology business that has risen to the top of its highly competitive Long Island market. As described beginning on page 16, the practice has also experienced phenomenal growth as a result of its PACS-created capabilities.

In short, PACS installation is better thought of as a process than as a project that will end one day. Likewise, the leaders who serve on PACS steering committees should be willing to look beyond the date of full PACS deployment. By emphasizing ongoing training and the widest possible integration with information systems throughout the enterprise, they will be certain to obtain the full power of PACS. By extending web-based access to PACS to qualified users worldwide, they will ensure the greatest possible usefulness for their systems.

As a leader in PACS technology, eMed is proud to help radiology departments and imaging centers achieve their PACS implementation goals. With the hope that they will also choose long-term objectives that continue to carry them toward the greatest possible productivity and growth, eMed is pleased to sponsor this publication.

David Mahoney Vice President of Sales and Marketing eMed Technologies Burlington, Mass