The Big Picture: PACS not ready for HIS prime time

April 1, 1999

PACS not ready for HIS prime time The integration of PACS networks with other healthcare information systems is a topic that can't be ignored by any vendor participating in the digital image management sector. Partnerships abound between PACS

PACS not ready for HIS prime time

The integration of PACS networks with other healthcare information systems is a topic that can't be ignored by any vendor participating in the digital image management sector. Partnerships abound between PACS and HIS/RIS vendors, and the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise project is moving rapidly towards a series of public demonstrations in the next year.

The integration message doesn't appear to be getting through to the end-user community, however. Attendees at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society meeting in February were largely unsophisticated about PACS, and the integration of medical images with other information systems didn't seem to be a priority.

Hospital IS personnel are undoubtedly preoccupied with ensuring Y2K compliance at their institutions, and integration efforts may be placed on the back burner until next year, when the drain on IS resources should ease. The problem may be deeper than that, however. While the benefits of integration seem self-evident, it's apparent that many hospital IS managers are not ready to tackle the project, due largely to their lack of understanding about the issues and requirements of PACS.

The IHE project and PACS/HIS vendor alliances will prove invaluable in this effort, but vendors also need to play a key role in educating IS personnel. In any event, the disappointing HIMSS meeting suggests that it will be several years before widespread implementations of integrated image and information management systems occur.

--Erik L. Ridley, Editor

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