Paper recalls DoD role in PACS history

May 27, 2003

During a season celebrating 20 years of PACS, a new paper traces the roots of digital imaging to federal interests.The federal government under the auspices of the departments of Defense and Veterans' Affairs drove the movement of PACS into clinical

During a season celebrating 20 years of PACS, a new paper traces the roots of digital imaging to federal interests.

The federal government under the auspices of the departments of Defense and Veterans' Affairs drove the movement of PACS into clinical care, according to Dr. Greg T. Mogel, an assistant professor of research radiology at the University of Southern California.

Mogel recalls the history of PACS beginning with a series of federal investments in the 1980s in emerging technologies dealing with medical imaging (Comput Med Imaging Graph 2003;27:165-174).

This DoD work was done domestically to provide continuity of care for a highly mobile military-dependent population. Internationally, it came in response to the increasing rate of small-scale deployments of forces, as in Haiti and Somalia.

"Specialty medical support for these far-flung deployments was difficult to provide, and the hope was that technology could help bridge the gap," Mogel said.

This military research, development, and implementation served not only as a catapult for continuing tech-based military medical research at the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, which today manages a budget of over $100 million.

A broad catalog of technologies, from modeling and simulation to robotics, are the descendants of that early DoD PACS research, Mogel said.

"In the 21st century, the missions of military and civilian healthcare become more alike every day, given changing threats and our responses to them," Mogel said.

Along with a risk averse medical technology industrial base, this blurring will lead to an important ongoing role for federal support in advanced technology R&D.

"In each technology area, medical imaging in the form of PACS, digital acquisition, or teleradiology has already laid down road maps for how standards should be developed, how fundamental clinical challenges should be overcome, and how technology can fundamentally alter not only the spirit of healthcare delivery but its efficiency and efficacy," he said.