Hospital holds off on integrating cardiac PACS

March 1, 2005

As cardiac systems develop into full-blown information management and digital imaging networks, hospitals face the decision of whether and how to integrate cardiac PACS with the enterprise/radiology PACS.

As cardiac systems develop into full-blown information management and digital imaging networks, hospitals face the decision of whether and how to integrate cardiac PACS with the enterprise/radiology PACS.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston has decided not to mesh the two imaging worlds for now.

"The main reason was cost," said Georgann Bruski, director of invasive cardiology at Beth Israel. "We didn't spend all that money just to go into one big archive. We actually get the same result with a Web-based system. We have our own archive."

Bruski is not convinced the vendors have hit on the right solution yet. She said Beth Israel considered enterprise integration last year, but information technology, radiology, and cardiology met and decided this wasn't the time.

"The vendors made their presentations, but we didn't think the gain justified the expense," she said. "When I asked where they had installation sites, all they could offer were small hospitals but no major medical centers. I didn't want to be their first one. Sometimes it's better to sit back and wait."

Campus politics was another factor. Bruski said cardiology actually competes with radiology at Beth Israel.

"We're doing peripherals, they're doing peripherals. Politically, I don't think it's a good idea to put our images with their images," she said.

Integration of the cardio PACS and the radiology PACS likely wouldn't be that easy. For one thing, the patient record identifiers in the two systems are inconsistent.

"We don't have the right identifier to go into the radiology PACS. So if our images went to them right now, they would go into some kind of holding bucket," she said.

Bruski said the whole idea is for her clients, the referring physicians, to be happy, to know they have access to patient images.

"All you want to do is let your physicians have access to the images and reports," she said. "Where the images are archived is not important."