Thursday, November 16, 2006

PACS is dead. Long live PACS

It is my prediction that the days of the acronym "PACS" are numbered. Picture Archiving and Communications Systems are the hospital systems that store all those digital diagnostic images- X-ray, mammogram, MR, CT etc.

They need phenomenal storage capacity (Terabytes) and distributing those images (usually of the DICOM format) from the imagers to radiologists is therefore non-trivial.

When did you last hear an application based IT system have to define itself as a communication system? That's inherent in the fact that it is information technology. It feels illogical to make a big deal out of that, reflects challenges largely in the past and aspires to monolithic systems. I try and use the terms "DICOM Storage", "DICOM Viewer" and "Radiology Writer" to describe the constituent parts and apply as appropriate. Processes are being reengineered such that these elements are being reused in ways the inventing technologists hadn't imagined and the PACS term will itself be reengineered.

There's a lot of inertia in the acronym by virtue of the intellectual capital (deals, research papers, products, implementations) invested in it, so I don't expect a change any time soon... but watch this space

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CLS said...

There is just too much money involved in PACS to demystify it and call it what it really is. PACS is hard to understand and therefore expensive. Noone gets paid much for just displaying a picture and saving it to a hard drive or posting it via FTP.

Richard Atkinson said...

I think that's why you'll gradually see vendors from the software domain creep into what has traditionally been a heavy iron domain. It's going to be interesting