Chief Technology Officer Srishti Software, India.
PACS in India, the response has been very good so far. In fact, there are quite a few hospitals that are fully using the PACS software. The hospitals that we have been targeting have shown very keen interest in PACS. We feel that market is getting mature and is set to boom.
PACS technology has been changing quite rapidly. Initially it was newer and more sophisticated equipment, like good quality CT, MRI, PET/CT etc. These have already allowed clinicians to diagnose with much better accuracy. In future we anticipate that with more development in algorithms and computing power, Computer Assisted Diagnosis based on radiology data will evolve as a feasible technology and will enhance quality of diagnosis to unprecedented level.
Assuming that a hospital already has a radio diagnosis facility with equipments and radiologists, the following would be additional requirements:
That's quite interesting. In fact, we are finding that more and more physicians and radiologists have started preferring the PACS systems to hard copies. Turn around time for modalities connected with PACS is much faster in comparison to traditional films. Further there is no easy way to keep hard copies of 64-slice CT, PET / CT, 4D / 5D etcetera and keeping these digitally remain the only viable option.
IT applications that a hospital uses can be categorized as PAS [Patient Administration System], CAS [Clinical Administration System], EMR [Electronic Medial Records] and ERP [Enterprise Resource Planning]. In order to get complete view of a patient's EMR, one needs complete radiology studies as well, which is maintained in PACS. This makes PACS an integrated part of full patient care applications and workflows.
In any form of Medical records, we get privacy and data protection issues. These need to be understood and handled by hospitals that implement PACS. Hospitals needs to additionally understand the security issues and risks involved when PACS is used to enable tele-radiology to allow access of study outside hospital premises.
Most of PACS solutions, when implemented properly, will allow out of the box tele-radiology. Enabling studies to be reported by remote radiologists. However there may be additional application required to allow handling of transfer of clinical data, appointments, tele-conferencing, billing etc.
All the hospitals we have been interacting are considering IT as their way to improve quality, processes and bring cost down. So we feel that in hospitals India are treating IT as a strategic area and willing to invest.
In few occasions, hospital may not be clear on human resource needed from their side to maintain and use their PACS environment. For example, to effectively use PACS Radiologists, Clinicians, Operators and PACS administrators must get trained properly. These need to be properly planned and executed; otherwise all benefits from PACS might not be realised. Another set of issues comes when hospital does not have clarity about the duration for which they want to retain studies, making estimation of storage complicated.
Indian healthcare is fast moving to a stage where hospitals will need to compete more for the same set of patients and in order to do so improve quality while keeping the costs in control. In this regard, many hospitals have started looking or otherwise should look in to way to improve their quality and controlling costs. IT can be a strategic enabler, however hospitals should be careful and engage with a vendor only with proper due-diligence.