this year, St. Joseph’s Imaging Associates in Syracuse, NY, was faced with the
same choice as many other imaging centers: either replace most of the parts on our
current RIS and PACS systems, or trade in the entire system on a brand new
a choice we approached lightly.
of our peers in medical imaging, St. Joseph’s is under pressure to meet new
regulatory measures, such as Meaningful Use — or else face painful financial
penalties to the bottom line. In addition, we are in the midst of adding two
imaging centers to our 7 existing Syracuse-area imaging clinics. By this time
in 2014, we expect to add 50,000 imaging exams per year to our current system-wide
volume of 170,000 exams per year.
a solid, affordable solution that would not only help St. Joseph’s address the
demands of Meaningful Use, but also position our system for growth in an
increasingly competitive regional market, was critical.
and PACS, which were installed in the 1990s and early 2000s, respectively, had served
us well. In fact, we initially tried to figure out a way to upgrade specific
aspects of each system, or replace only the PACS. But those options cost nearly
as much as buying an entirely new PACS/RIS — and wouldn’t have met Meaningful
Use requirements or provided sufficient “horsepower” to allow St. Joseph’s to
grow in today’s healthcare environment.
we decided to trade in the old system for a new, integrated PACS/RIS that provides
comprehensive and integrated document management, referring physician
engagement, and medical imaging sharing solutions. After rollout of the solution
to all of our locations is complete, St. Joseph’s will be able to manage daily
operations with an integrated system that reduces duplicate data entry and
errors, as well as complies with Meaningful Use.
addition, we plan to take advantage of a referral portal and access solution to
give referring physicians the ability to place orders with us, access reports, and
even retrieve patient images online. Since the system operates in a completely
virtual environment, it also gives us full redundancy, enabling us to back up
all our data and imaging for full business continuance.
may have picked up on my intentional use of car terminology. In some ways, deciding
whether to upgrade parts of RIS/PACS systems or replace them entirely is much like
fixing up an old luxury car vs. buying a new one. You certainly can replace
many of the parts on the old car and make it run like new. But ultimately, it’s
still not going to give you the same features, or the higher levels of
efficiency and functionality you get from the new car.
without saying that high-performing technology is critical to the future
viability of imaging centers. For St. Joseph’s, it was time to switch.
is the Director of Radiology at St. Joseph’s Imaging Associates, Syracuse, NY, and worked with Merge Healthcare on implementing a replacement PACS/RIS for the facility.