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Providers Demand Interoperability, Security from PACS Vendors

The growing number of medical images prompts organizations to be more selective of their PACS vendors as they seek future innovation for interoperablity and security.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Healthcare organizations are collecting, storing and analyzing more medical images than ever. This makes digital imaging networks such as picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) critical to health IT infrastructure. Entities are taking more care when selecting PACS vendors.

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.

Medical image data is one of the most common forms of data silos in health IT infrastructure. Images are large unstructured data files that take up a lot of space, according to IDC Research.

“Today's move toward collaborative care means more physicians need to have access to these images and image data, like radiology reports,” IDC researchers explained. “Providers making care management decisions want longitudinal records that provide a 360-degree patient view.”

The need for a complete view of a patient’s history of medical images makes it critical for organizations to select a PACS that is innovative enough to evolve with interoperability needs and remain secure.

The Military Health System and Veterans Health Administration (VHA) announced their contract with Change Healthcare. The Digital Imaging Network (DIN-PACS) IV indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract with a five-year base period and one five-year option period.

The solution is designed to increase care collaboration between different departments and increase workflow to lower administrative costs while treating patients faster.

Both facilities will have access to the full suite of McKesson enterprise imaging solutions, which were recently acquired by Change Healthcare. The solution includes diagnostic imaging and workflow products, PACS, radiology solutions, and cardiovascular imaging systems.

"We have a track record of meeting the U.S. government's stringent requirements for system security, interoperability, and patient safety," Change Healthcare EVP and President of Imaging, Workflow and Care Solutions Erkan Akyuz said in a statement. "The government expects secure, flexible, scalable, and reliable imaging solutions, and it is an honor to provide these mission-critical solutions to support military families and veterans.”

“Our focus is on helping the military health system use enterprise imaging to achieve their goals of better outcomes for patients and connected, coordinated care," Akyuz continued.   

PACS interoperability and connectivity are crucial to successful PACS deployment. A KLAS Research report released in 2017 interviewed thousands of healthcare professionals about how their organization uses PACS and the how stakeholders evaluate their products and services.

The KLAS report found that organizations responded favorably to Change Healthcare’s acquisition of McKesson. Respondents said that they look forward to updates because the updates improve the PAC system in the ways their organization desire. McKesson also provides users with a responsive support team.

Overall, organizations are looking for newer, more innovative PAC systems and are seeing the flaws in the older and more established vendors. Entities also prefer PACS vendors that are proactive about updates and listen to what the customer needs to ensure that each upgrade is worth the time it takes to occur.

Interoperability among internal departments and the potential to easily and securely exchange data with other organizations outside the network are what organizations have in mind when replacing dated PACS.

Change Healthcare has also been working on its healthcare blockchain solution, which can increase its interoperability in the future. Change Healthcare can potentially apply its blockchain technology to its PACS, making it more secure and easier to exchange medical imaging data.

Change Healthcare just launched its first healthcare blockchain solution for claims management. If the claims management healthcare blockchain solution is successful, Change Healthcare may be able to use the technology to improve interoperability for its PACS solutions.

PACS continue to be a challenge for healthcare organizations, but the continued innovation from vendors will hopefully answer the interoperability and security needs of providers.

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