What is a PACS (picture archiving and communication system)?
PACS is a combination of hardware and software dedicated to the short and long term storage, retrieval, management, distribution and presentation of images. The biggest consumers of PACS are hospitals. PACS main purpose is to replace hard film copies with digital images that can be used and seen by several different medical professionals and different medical automation systems simultaneously.
The system's server contains the image database. The clients connect to the server through a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN). PACS are now beginning to include web-based interfaces so that clients can connect remotely over a virtual private network (VPN) or secure Web site (HTTPS). Remote access makes it easier and more convenient for several different practitioners to view the same information simultaneously. PACS also makes it easier for radiologists to manage patient exam workflow.
PACS has four major components:
- Imaging systems, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed axial tomography (CAT scan) equipment.
- A secure network for distribution and exchange of patient information.
- Workstations for viewing, processing and interpreting images.
- Archives for storage and retrieval of images and related documentation and reports.
The increasing adoption of healthcare information technology (HIT) is stimulating the market for PACS. Global Data forecast that the United States PACS market will grow from $1 billion in 2008 to $2.5 billion in 2015.
FAQ: How does PACS technology affect health care IT?
Hospitals struggling to meet PACS storage needs as files grow.
Turing workstations into imaging hubs with PACS integration.
A before-and-after study on the impact of PACS on rates of duplicate imaging.
This research paper discusses medical image security in a HIPAA mandated PACS environment.