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Health System Consolidation, Mergers Impact PACS Vendor Selection

Organizations looking to invest in a new PACS should consider industry trends as well as peer organizations when selecting a vendor.


Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Healthcare organizations are looking to standardize and consolidate their picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) as health systems continue to merge and grow, according to a recent KLAS report.

PACS provide storage and convenient access to medical images such as ultrasounds, MRIs, CTs, and x-rays. PACS started to become popular during the transition from film images to digital files.  Since then, PACS have become more advanced and now allow clinicians to remotely access images, interface with EHRs, and enhance images to help with treatment decisions.

“With merger and acquisition activity among provider organizations on an upward trend, organizations are looking to standardize their technology wherever possible,” said the KLAS report. “As a result, even mature IT segments, such as the PACS market, are seeing high levels of IT purchasing.”

The report suggests that organizations looking into purchasing a PAC system keep three main goals in mind when consulting with vendors: purchasing energy, vendor performance, and keys to success.

Researching PACS vendors and learning which vendors have had the most contracts with health systems over the past several years can help organizations narrow the vendor selection field. The KLAS report also suggests that organizations look to their peers as well. Knowing what PACS a similar health system purchased recently and why can give organizations a better idea of what solutions could work for their unique needs.

“Over the last two years, provider organizations have made net-new purchases from nearly every PACS vendor KLAS measures,” explained the report. “Some vendors saw extensive growth, including some high-volume contracts. Others were selected by only a handful of organizations, but that handful included some of the largest contracts validated in this report.”

Source: KLAS PACS 2018 report

Examining vendor performance in key areas is also an important goal to keep in mind when looking into PACS vendors. Selecting a vendor that will solve the challenges that cause the organization to seek a replacement is a good place to start. Some of the top cited reasons for PACS replacement in the report were consolidation (18 percent), functionality (15 percent), support (15 percent), technology (eight percent), and integration (4 percent).

However, the benefits organizations expect from selecting certain vendors may not always pan out as expected which makes a strong relationship between the organization and the vendor important.

“Even in cases where the selected vendor does live up to expectations, unforeseen challenges can create a fair amount of buyer’s remorse,” the report explained. “Vendors who consistently deliver a high level of satisfaction provide not only a strong product, frequently cited as the reason for the purchase, but also top-notch service that is proactive, timely, and cooperative. In fact, when customers say they plan to replace their PACS vendor, relationship factors (including support, partnership, ability to keep promises, and general relationship) are some of most frequently mentioned reasons.”

A previous KLAS report came to a similar conclusion stating that vendor support and communication factor highly into overall client satisfaction.

Source: KLAS PACS 2018 report

The report lays out general keys to success that every organizations should follow. These points can be used to have success with any vendor, even the ones that tended to perform lower. The general keys to success according to KLAS are:

  • Make sure your contract prioritizes the customer
  • Lay the Foundation with a Strong Implementation
  • Train for Success from Day one
  • Collaborate across all departments
  • Choose the right data migration strategy

Organizations looking to purchase a new PAC system should take the current market into consideration, not just go with the most recognizable name. Paying attention to current PACS technology trends, looking into what peer organizations are doing, and knowing what is needed out of the PACS will help organizations select the correct PACS for their needs.


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