d01b.jpg (10167 bytes)I attended a number of educational sessions at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Computer Applications in Radiology (SCAR), held May 20–23 in Vancouver, British Columbia. You can read about new product announcements and the like in our SCAR Wrap-Up on pages 10–11, but here, I’d like to highlight one session in particular.

Fujifilm Medical Systems USA (Stamford, Conn) hosted a luncheon, during which Keith J. Dreyer, DO, PhD, vice chairman of radiology informatics at Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston) and principal of the Radiology Consulting Group (Boston), presented “PACS Management.” Dreyer’s speech focused on the distinguishing factors necessary for making a PACS installation successful, the most important of which is the actual PACS administrator.

He/she should be either a radiologic professional with computer skills or an information technology (IT) professional with imaging and radiology interests. The administrator should have strong project management skills, because, as Dreyer so fittingly put it, installing and maintaining a PACS is “a perpetual project.” It’s also essential that this person have excellent people skills, because he/she will be talking with physicians and the IT team. And joking aside, Dreyer added that any PACS administrator needs to “possess a unique tolerance for pain.” With the constant upkeep of the system itself and the demands from users, it’s clear why this last factor is an important one.

While I was at SCAR, I met quite a few PACS administrators and found each to be incredibly different. One woman in particular, however, seemed to be the quintessential PACS person. Margaret Wilson, MS, RT, is one of two PACS analysts for Baylor University Medical Center (Dallas), a position she has held for 3 years. Wilson was involved in her facility’s PACS installation process from the get-go—building the team, choosing the vendor, dissecting the budget, implementing the system, and now managing the day-to-day operations.

Wilson fits the criteria outlined by Dreyer to a T, as she was an X-ray technician for about 25 years and had a serious interest in digital imaging and new technology. “Taking on this role was a natural stepping stone for me,” she says. “And with my radiology background, I was able to understand how to translate this new digital world to the users and how it would affect their lives.” Wilson also attributes her job finesse to the in-depth analytical skills she gained in her graduate studies as well as being intuitive in the IT world.

But the aspects of Wilson’s personality that I noticed—just in the short time we spoke—which I think make her an excellent fit for the job were her sense of humor, easy-going yet high-energy demeanor, and an inherent wealth of patience. Other qualities necessary for the job, according to Wilson, are the ability to react quickly and think on your feet as well as having thick skin. “We’re dealing with users who have a low

tolerance for anything going wrong,” she says. “To them, it’s the biggest problem in the world; maybe it’s just a mouse or a printer hookup, but I try to find the simplest way to fix things.” Clearly, Wilson knows how to hold a few hands and calm folks down, two more traits necessary for this job.

So as your facility starts to implement a PACS, please take plenty of time in choosing your administrator, the person who will see the installation through to the end and then keep it up and running. It’s evident that the success of a PACS project doesn’t just lie in the hardware and software; it’s also due to the perfect person behind it all.

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Andi Lucas, Editor