Following the growing trend and involvement of technology in almost every industry across the world, healthcare services and individuals are also actively looking for ways to facilitate their patients with better services as well as efficiently manage administrative workflows without investing in multiple systems.
And when we talk about an efficient system that helps practitioners with managing administrative tasks efficiently, the use of PACS (picture archiving and communication system) or RIS (radiology information system software) is very important. These systems are customized to ensure streamlined, secure file archiving and communication, particularly within the diagnostic medical imaging industry. According to specialists, PACS software is a highly used and effective tool for radiology professionals to allow them to display, capture, store and share medical images in the fastest and most reliable way.
What is a PACS system?
For those who are new to the term, PACS is a medical imaging system that is designed to provide healthcare professionals gain access to digital images as well as store them in a centralized database. The system easily transmits digital images of scans and reports electronically, which means you need not spend time searching for old files and investing in the transportation process. You can simply get the digital file of a report and share it digitally with the concerned department or individual
The history of PACS dates back to 1979 when it was not too much used for file sharing. One reason for this could be no or limited access to the internet to healthcare professionals or patients. The technology became popular in 1993 when the collaboration between the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) took place and was known as DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) standard.
The types of images a PACS can handle:
In the modern days, radiology information system software has become quite advanced and is able to handle different types of images used in the healthcare process. Following this, it has become a versatile tool in managing different types of medical images that are generated from the imaging instruments including:
- Ultrasound (US)
- Magnetic resonance (MR)
- Nuclear Medicine imaging
- Positron emission tomography (PET)
- Computed tomography (CT)
- Endoscopy (ES)
- Mammograms (MG)
- Digital radiography (DR)
- Phosphor plate radiography
Components used in a PACS
The Picture Archiving and Communication System is an advanced technology that consists of four components, which include:
- Image acquisition devices (imaging modalities) – This is a tool that facilitates digitization and also converts them to PACS standard format i.e. DICOM. This also helps in image data preprocessing such as image resizing, background removal, orientation calibration, etc.
- Communication networks – This is another component used in the PACS, which is responsible for ensuring a smooth transmission of medical data or images between all the components within the PACS environment. It also helps transmit the medical images to remote locations.
- PACS archive and server – Every medical image is archived within the main working center of the system, which is the PACS server. The process of storing the data and archiving is managed via the server’s two main components: archive system and storage media (database).
l Integrated display workstations (WS) – As the name suggests, this is a display workstation that serves as a key in enabling the clinical interpretation of the images generated via the multiple modalities. A goal for this component is to allow radiologists and clinicians to perform primary diagnosis, thus their alternate name, diagnostic WS’s.
The working process of PACS software
Many people who are unaware of the PACS software feel that it can be more like a technical task to operate this software, which might require hiring a professional for the job. But the fact here is that this is a simple software, just like any other one, which can be easily operated by an individual without technical knowledge. Some initial training can be enough to seamlessly operate it without any hassle. To help the how PACS software works, here is everything you need to know.
PACS operates with a sequenced structure that ensures the system operates at a peak in accuracy and quality. Following is the sequence:
- Main server – Server is also known as the heart of the process of PACS, which is responsible for liaising with the database structure, RIS interfacing, DICOM imaging import and export gateway, web servers, etc.
- Database – This is the very important part of the whole process and functioning of PACS where all the images and data are stored in the form of digital files. This can be an in-house database or cloud-based system so that the practitioners can gain access to the files easily and share them with others digitally.
- HL7 (Health Level 7) – This is a part of the server, which is responsible for receiving all RIS-generated information and then helps distribute it to picture archiving and communication system.
Main uses of PACS software
To know the benefits of PACS software or radiology information system software, it is very important to know how it is used and can help reduce the workload in a significant way. There are four main ways a PACS system can help your business.
- Hard copy replacement – The software system is highly advanced and aimed to be the digital replacement of your medical hard copy medical image management so that you do not have to manage those traditional diagnostic files anymore.
- Remote access – Since the goal of PACS software is to eliminate the use of soft copies and ensure easy transmission to others, it enables off-site viewing and reporting capabilities beyond the scope of conventional systems to healthcare practitioners or radiologists. This means the practitioners can access the digital imaging files regardless of their location.
- Electronic image integration platform – PACS serves as an electronic platform that is designed to interface between different medical automation systems such as the EMR (Electronic Medical Record), RIS (Radiology Information System), or HIS (Hospital Information System).