Sunday, August 9, 2009

Integrating PACS with EHR

PACS = picture archiving and communications system (used in radiology)
EHR = electronic health record

So, it should be simple to integrate digital radiology images into an existing EHR, right? Well, it can be more complex than that because you have different PACS and EHR systems out there. The systems may not "talk to each other" very effectively.

One recent project demonstrates a successful link between Merge’s Fusion PACS with an EHR system from Epic. Where did this occur? Minneapolis-based HealthPartners and Merge Healthcare. Epic is widely used in many hospital systems. This Epic/Merge integration certainly won't be the last. However, I wonder which PACS solution will emerge as the leading option for hospitals running EHRs such as Epic.

Here are some interesting tidbits about PACS according to Wikipedia:
Most PACSs handle images from various medical imaging instruments, including ultrasound (US), magnetic resonance (MR), positron emission tomography (PET), computed tomography (CT), endoscopy (ENDO), mammograms (MG), digital radiography (DR), computed radiography (CR) etc.

In August of 2004, DR Systems was the first to announce that it had received FDA clearance for diagnostic reading of digital mammography images on a PACS. Since that time, other PACS vendors including CareStream Health, GE Healthcare, Cedara, FUJIFILM, Philips Healthcare, Sectra, Emageon, and Siemens Medical Solutions have also obtained FDA clearance for full field digital mammography (FFDM).

Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) is a standard for handling, storing, printing, and transmitting information in medical imaging. There are several Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) Viewers available both free and proprietary. Some of the DICOM Viewers include: Medstrat, eFilm, K-Pacs, DICOM Works, OsiriX, SureVistaVision , UniPACS, Syngo Imaging, VRRender, ImageJ and MicroDicom. Various viewers can connect directly to a PACS server or retrieve images from local storage. Of note, OsiriX is an open-source DICOM viewer.
So, did you catch all those acronyms? Welcome to the world of Health IT!

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