A recently developed and highly innovative medical imaging technology, PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) has been a revelation for healthcare organizations around the globe. By allowing organizations to digitally store and transmit clinically-relevant reports and electronic images in a safe and secure manner, PACS has streamlined and automated the storage and transmission of sensitive medical documentation, reports, films and information.
As the healthcare industry moves towards automation and digital medical images grow in volume across the industry, the importance of medical image storage technologies such as PACS is rapidly rising.
Who’s Using PACS?
While PACS has been predominately used by radiologists (with radiology having been the largest producer of X-ray images traditionally), such technologies are now starting to be integrated into other departments as well. These include nuclear medicine imaging, dermatology, pathology, cardiology and oncology.
The captured medical images can be used to increase the efficacy and accuracy of clinical diagnosis, treatment and analysis as part of the patient’s care plan. The collected information can be used to accurately identify any physiological or anatomical abnormalities, chart treatment progress and provide medical professionals with a database of patient scans that can be used as future references.
Having access to a digital database of the patient’s medical reports, images and history also allow clinicians to improve and expedite patient care, reduce the risk of prescription error, and prevent unnecessary testing.
Digital access also goes a long way in saving the time and resources of both the patient and the medical facility.
These days, nearly all medical and radiography equipment from notable manufacturers comes bundled with a PACS software solution. This system stores, shares, retrieves and presents the medical images that are produced by medical equipment of different modalities. These include Computed Tomography (CT) scan, X-ray, ultrasound and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines.
PACS technology’s modern use can be mainly accredited to Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM), which is the de facto protocol for the transmission and management of medical imagery and related data. It was the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA) that originally developed DICOM. It was back in 1893 when NEMA and ACR combined together to form a joint committee for the development of medical imaging technology standards, and to advance the expansion and development of PACS.