Making sense of digital imaging's alphabet soup

June 3, 2006

Acronyms relating to PACS seem to multiply at an even more alarming rate than the viruses and other security threats designed to undermine these systems. Among the acronyms that I have encountered for the first time during the past few months are XDS-I (cross-enterprise document sharing for imaging), CCOW (clinical context object work group), P-BW (persona-based window), and TRIP (Transforming the Radiological Interpretation Process).

Acronyms relating to PACS seem to multiply at an even more alarming rate than the viruses and other security threats designed to undermine these systems. Among the acronyms that I have encountered for the first time during the past few months are XDS-I (cross-enterprise document sharing for imaging), CCOW (clinical context object work group), P-BW (persona-based window), and TRIP (Transforming the Radiological Interpretation Process).

Conscientious IT experts have explained each of these acronyms to me. I cannot claim to fully understand them, but I am intrigued about who invented them. Is there a team of geeks in a basement bunker on a mission to invent the next bewildering term or concept?

One thing is clear, however: This growth in acronyms illustrates that PACS continues to evolve and move in new directions. In the second half of the 1990s, the emphasis in digital imaging was on practical issues, such as training radiologists to perform electronic reporting; selling PACS to skeptical and budget-conscious hospital managers; evaluating the cost savings of abandoning the beloved film and going digital; and convincing stubborn colleagues to wake up to the benefits of monitors and keyboards.

Thankfully, the focus has shifted. Today's buzzwords include integration, connectivity, workflow, standards, and (sorry to use yet another acronym) EHR, or the electronic health record.

In our second annual PACS and informatics special section in this issue of Diagnostic Imaging Europe, we have tried to give you a flavor of the latest trends in this exciting field. Quality assurance in teleradiology, obtaining informed consent in a digital format, workstation design, and ergonomics are clearly now high on the digital agenda. Please read this section and let me know if you have any thoughts and observations. As always, we are keen to improve and expand our coverage of PACS, but we rely on you to tell us about your priorities, experiences, and concerns and hopes for the future.

The world of medical imaging is never dull or static. Constant change has become a feature of everyday life for radiologists and other doctors involved in this area, in whatever country and type of hospital or clinic you are based. As magazine editors and publishers, we relish the challenge of meeting your information needs, including the particularly tough job of updating you on the latest PACS acronym.

Over the coming months, further PACS and IT issues look certain to come to the fore at several important events. After the Europacs meeting (Trondheim, Norway, 14 to 17 June) and Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery congress (Osaka, Japan, 28 June to 1 July), the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) will stage its first European conference in Geneva from 10 to 13 October. The annual Management in Radiology meeting, up to half of which is devoted to PACS, takes place in Budapest from 5 to 7 October.