Radiologists place high priority on using PACS

July 8, 2002

Making the transition to soft-copy reading formats and PACS is a top priority among radiologists, according to a survey recently released by a national radiology management services firm. The 2002 survey of radiologists, prepared by Texas-based U.S.

Making the transition to soft-copy reading formats and PACS is a top priority among radiologists, according to a survey recently released by a national radiology management services firm.

The 2002 survey of radiologists, prepared by Texas-based U.S. Radiology Partners, found that 26% of those radiologists who own or have an interest in an imaging center are equipped with some form of PACS.

Radiology groups and hospital radiology departments rated upgrading their facilities' infrastructure to implement PACS, go digital, and take advantage of teleradiology third among the list of priorities for the next 12 months: 35% of those consulted whose centers do not yet have a PACS said they plan to install one within the next 18 months.

The results suggest that sales of PACS equipment could boom in the near future, according to Mark Bakken, USRP's chief operating officer. The fact that so many radiologists are considering technological upgrades to enhance productivity and workflow means that an important number among them have already budgeted a considerable amount of money for that purpose.

"It's real, it's happening very quickly, and there is going to be some chaos," Bakken said.

These numbers should be approached with caution, however. Not all practices share the same definition of PACS, said Phil Miller, director of communications at Merritt, Hawkins & Associates. Some respondents who answered affirmatively about owning a PACS may actually have some form of storage device, not a real PACS.

Still, Miller said, the numbers reflect a fairly high level of interest in the issue and radiologists' concern about using technology to overcome current shortcomings, such as the shortage of labor.

"They see the necessity of doing this for efficiency's sake in order to enhance their operation. I thought it was a fairly high number," he said.