Your current image storage and reporting solution (PACS) is outdated and does not meet your needs. Now what?

Evaluating vendors can be exhausting. A lot of vendors make general claims like “We are the best!” and “We will make your life better!” But which solution is actually best, and how do you determine that?

So, we’ve created a checklist of things to ask about yourself before you purchase a PACS system to identify a solution that meets your needs…

1. Your image storage needs

  •   Do you want to maintain your own server or have the vendor manage storage for you?
  •   If you maintain the server yourself, what kind of redundancy will you have? Is offsitebackup of any kind included?
  •   Will this vendor keep your data in multiple locations that are geographically disparate?
  •   If this is a cloud offering, what security measures are employed at their data centers?
  •   What imaging modalities do you want to be included in this solution?
  •   Do you also want a solution that will handle any other diagnostic testing results? If so,list those devices.
  •   Do you have an IT resource available to help you setup and manage a local solution?

2. Security/Privacy

  •   Is SSO a requirement for you? If so, does the vendor support SSO?
  •   If the vendor is a cloud-based provider, what encryption is used?
  •   Does the vendor have a QMS?
  •   Does the vendor have an ISMS?
  •   Is the number of images per series and the matrix size visible on the image?
  •   Does the vendor have a disaster recovery plan?
  •   Does the vendor conduct penetration testing?
  •   Does the vendor have a business continuity plan?
  •   What is the vendor’s downtime record?
  •   Is there a way to modify user roles and the permissions within those roles?
  •   Is there an audit trail?
  •   Are final reports truly digitally signed?

3. Image viewing

  •   Are user licenses required or does the solution offer unlimited users?
  •   Does the solution support dual monitors and provide for quick comparison of previousexams?
  •   What imaging modalities are supported? (Ultrasound, nuclear, cath, angio, CT, MRI,etc?)
  •   Does the solution support viewing more than one image at a time?
  •   Can you adjust the brightness and contrast? Window and level?
  •   Does the viewer support: Pan, Zoom, Measurements and calculations, Inverting greyscale, CT Hounsfield units?
  •   Is patient information available while viewing all images?
  •   Is the number of images per series visible on the study?
  •   Can users view images on multiple platforms such as tablets and smartphones? 4. Interpretation
  •   Does the interpretation tool populate measurements from the modality?
  •   Can DICOM tags influence workflow (i.e. can the data entered on the modality assist inrouting my exams through the process)
  •   If normal reports are available, do they meet accreditation guidelines?
  •   Is there a mechanism for building macro statements?
  •   Is there a mechanism for creating a ‘favorite’ report?
  •   Does the tool include any diagrams? If so are they static or do they assist ininterpretation?
  •   Is all of the data within the tool able to be queried in reports that assist with otherprocesses such at QA/QC, accreditation, management?
  •   Is the full-featured interpretation tool available on a tablet as well as a PC?
  •   Does the interpretation tool include the ability to add clinical notes that do not displayon the report?

5. Interoperability

  •   Is the product vendor neutral?
  •   Is modality worklist support available (MWL)?
  •   Is an HL7 results interface available that includes the ability to send discrete dataelements, link to images, images in .jpeg, encapsulated pdf and/or text based report (if all are desired)?
  •   Can images be shared with patients or other not users?

6. Support and Training

  •   What are the support hours?
  •   Can you call support or do you have to submit a help ticket first?
  •   Is support available at an extra cost? Forever or for a limited time? What costs areassociated with support?
  •   What is the initial training provided?
  •   Is ongoing training available (for new features or staff turnover)?
  •   What costs are associated with user training?
  •   Is a product manual available? Is it kept up to date?
  •   Are there user videos available?
  •   What other training resources are available?

7. Contract and implementation

  •   What are the terms of the agreement?
  •   What if we aren’t happy? How can we cancel?
  •   Can the vendor provide us with references?
  •   What will the implementation of the product look like?
  •   How long will it take?