By Erik L. Ridley, AuntMinnie staff writer

March 11, 2005 -- SAN ANTONIO - Radiology PACS administrators need to have a little bit of Sherlock Holmes in them, according to Dennis Driscoll, PACS manager and radiation safety officer at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix.

"You never know where the problems are, and you will be the No. 1 contact," Driscoll said. "Once you become known as the PACS administrator, you're very popular."

He spoke Thursday at PACS 2005: The Expanding Integrated Digital Healthcare Enterprise, a conference in San Antonio this week sponsored by the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry in Rochester, NY.

Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center is a level 1 trauma center and one of six Banner Health system hospitals in the Phoenix metropolitan area. PACS was implemented in December 2003 at a new radiology department facility, three months before the department moved into the site.

Banner's Arizona regional data center is located across the street from the new location, and the system's Colorado region participated in vendor selection and initial installation, Driscoll said.

The PACS planning process commenced with the forming of planning committees, featuring a multifaceted and multifacility group of individuals, as well as participants from the IT, RIS, radiology, finance, service, and legal departments, Driscoll said.

To ensure a successful start with PACS, PACS administrators need to prepare the facility and staff, Driscoll said. This includes being able to "sell" hospital administration on the readiness of the radiology team for the system and the advantages of the technology, and helping the staff familiarize themselves with viewing and working with electronic images, he said.

Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center also implemented a broker to provide work-list access for multiple facilities, and tested imaging equipment DICOM connectivity to take care of any problems prior to PACS implementation, Driscoll said. In addition, the site began evaluating the installation of peripheral devices such as CD burners and film digitizers.

Institutions should also begin working on a security plan to ensure HIPAA compliance, and identify PACS "champions," he said.

"It's important to have physician champions who are going to be out there selling PACS and standing up for you, and working through those issues and really making the case for administration all the way through to every user," Driscoll said.

A vision, priorities, and goals for PACS should be developed at the earliest of stages and shared with others in the facility, he said. This sets expectations for PACS.

Choosing a vendor

In selecting vendors, PACS administrators need to ask a lot of questions, Driscoll said. And do your homework, and learn the products and how they work now.

"You really need to know where they're at so you're not overpromising or having overexpectations," he said.

Use onsite demonstrations to narrow down the vendors, and beware of vaporware shown at meetings, he said. Also, beware the promises made during the vendor visit.

Driscoll suggests that administrators understand the vendor's responsibilities, and establish a commitment to secure dedicated IT staff for the PACS project. A plan for handling transcription and for securing support for PACS should be developed, he said.


PACS administrator training should be performed as early in the process as possible, Driscoll said. Multiple staff should also receive the training.

"The PACS administrator is not going to be there 24/7," he said.

Radiologist training will likely take several weeks for a large group. High-volume physician user training should also be provided, he said. Other staff to be trained include radiology staff, nursing and support staff, and referring physicians.

PACS administrators must be proactive in detecting problems, and be up on network, PC/workstation, modality, HIS/RIS, application, and security issues, Driscoll said.

Driscoll also advises that PACS administrators attend most of the medical staff committee meetings, and participate in department and management meetings.

By Erik L. Ridley staff writer
March 11, 2005

Web-based workflow and reporting systems keep imaging on track, March 10, 2005

Preparation eases PACS' impact on technologists, March 1, 2005

PACS succeeds clinically, financially for IDNs, February 15, 2005

In-depth approach needed for PACS security, January 20, 2005

Part V: Exploring PACS secrets -- Buyers and sellers, December 16, 2004

Copyright © 2005


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