Where do PACS administrators go to cry?

June 24, 2003

The informatics lab at the Medical College of Wisconsin is taking the fear out of filmless by creating an online community resource for PACS administrators.The noncommercial site -- ClubPACS http://radtutor.mcw.edu/clubpacs/ -- is intended to be an

The informatics lab at the Medical College of Wisconsin is taking the fear out of filmless by creating an online community resource for PACS administrators.

The noncommercial site - ClubPACS http://radtutor.mcw.edu/clubpacs/ - is intended to be an cyber sauna where people responsible for PACS in a clinical setting can sweat through their planning, purchase, implementation, and support anxiety.

"PACS administrators are pretty sparsely located. There are only one or two per facility, so where do they learn their trade?" said Paul Nagy, Ph.D., an assistant professor of radiology at MCW.

Tapping into the potential for online collaboration, Nagy is trying to provide an Internet sanctuary where PACS administrators can communicate with each other.

"Our goal is to facilitate and accelerate the growth of PACS through education and communication," Nagy said. "The Internet provides a great medium for bringing PACS administrators together to help them share and learn from one another."

The site features several tools designed to aid the PACS workforce:
? Web links to PACS training programs, consultants, vendors, 12 online news magazines and journals, professional societies, and DICOM/IHE references
? discussion forum
? jobs board
? links to free PACS software
? PACS bookshelf, including an ordering and reader review mechanism from Amazon.com

The most popular feature is the knowledge base, according to Nagy This "just-in-time" learning model contains a catalog of articles currently available from over a dozen news organizations covering PACS and related topics. Users can find articles on 13 different topics ranging from events, staffing, and new technologies to disaster recovery, implementation planning, and workflow.

"There is wonderful information on the Internet about PACS, but you have to be an expert to find it," Nagy said.

Online news providers offer excellent articles, but the challenge has always been to organize the information in a useful way so people can get at it, he said.

"News organizations don't provide good data mining tools," Nagy said.

ClubPACS breaks down news archives into categories, so members can quickly access several articles on specific topics such as disaster recovery or staffing.

While the society of PACS administrators is still relatively small, more than 670 have signed on to the year-old site, which gets between 10,000 and 15,000 hits per month.