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Are HIS vendors a threat to PACS firms?The PACS marketplace has traditionally been a radiology-centric business. Hospital information systems vendors have for the most part watched the PACS game from the sidelines, perhaps due to wariness about
The PACS marketplace has traditionally been a radiology-centric business. Hospital information systems vendors have for the most part watched the PACS game from the sidelines, perhaps due to wariness about the large size of image data files, thorny communication service requirements, and their unfamiliarity with radiology departments. The technically demanding aspects of PACS have been best left to vendors accustomed to dealing with the needs of radiology, such as x-ray film or scanner modality vendors.
But HIS vendors are eyeing PACS as interest grows in the electronic medical record and integrated information and image management systems, and the need for these systems will only increase with the mushrooming of managed care and hospital networks. When HIS vendors begin offering PACS modules with their products, there is the definite possibility that hospitals may find this one-stop-shopping approach to information technology more attractive than being forced to buy separate IT components.
What role will PACS vendors play in this new environment? They will continue to thrive, because HIS vendors will still need the hard-earned years of expertise that PACS companies have acquired. Some PACS firms will likely partner with HIS vendors, while others will focus on radiology departments, which will remain a profitable business segment for the foreseeable future. Whatever the role, the demanding requirements of PACS ensure that vendors who have cut their teeth in this enigmatic market will not see their growing pains go for naught.
-Erik L. Ridley, Editor