Imaging consultant Michael J. Cannavo.
Cannavo, also known as the PACSman, has 15 tips to help prospective purchasers prepare for an enterprise imaging initiative, as well as assess the various imaging IT offerings being exhibited at this year's virtual RSNA meeting:
- Have a checklist of questions ready. This will allow you to ask each vendor the exact same questions and see the same demos as you move from discussion to discussion virtually.
- Budget your time with one-on-one meetings when you can. RSNA 2020 has two extra days -- and three extra hours per day -- to spend with vendors. Use that time wisely.
- Most PACS/enterprise imaging systems now include an integrated RIS, so that may pose a challenge if you like your current RIS and want to keep it. Although most systems now have been designed to have the vendor's RIS and PACS working together, there are exceptions. So do your research.
- With RSNA 2020 being virtual, several different team members from different areas can now also review the systems being considered. Watching the demonstrations together in a conference room allows everyone to see the same information and ask questions. The more input you get, the better.
- Also, there are more vendors not displaying at RSNA that can meet your needs than those that are, so do your due diligence and look at every vendor that you feel can meet your needs, including the smaller independent firms.
- If you are on a per-click contract with your current vendor, make sure you can get out of the contract without penalties before you start looking at replacement systems.
- Make sure you have funding in place and available if a replacement or even an upgrade is chosen. This way you don't waste everyone's time if your purchasing plans get shot down later.
- Make sure you have internal resources to help with the project. If your facility is in the middle of implementing an electronic medical record/electronic health record, this is not the time to replace your enterprise imaging system, unless you waited way too long and have no other choice.
- Survey your radiologists to find out the features they like/can't live without, as well as those they don't want, like, or need. This ensures they can live with the system you get.
- Know how much data (how many studies) you produce per year, as well as the projected growth per modality.
- Know how much data are in your archive and if the data are stored as DICOM Part X format or in a proprietary manner. Is your image archive database standard (Oracle, SQL, etc.) or proprietary?
- Think about implementing a vendor-neutral archive (VNA) instead of a proprietary archive that typically comes standard with a PACS/enterprise imaging system. A VNA brings many benefits, and at not that much extra cost when considering the long-term picture.
- Find out from your existing vendor the cost and time to migrate your data from the existing archive to a VNA, and then compare that estimate against what a third-party provider would cost. Also, find out what you will lose in private tags, etc., and how important this is.
- Think outside the box. Many of the independent firms can meet your needs for less than a major vendor, although the feature set may be different.
- If funds are available, it's a good idea to look at the big picture and consider implementing new radiology, cardiology, digital pathology, and other clinical imaging systems as a single package. The savings can be significant.
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