My first PACS consisted of a Token Ring FDDI network with three diagnostic workstations in the Radiologists reading room, one QA workstation in my office and four clinical review workstations located in the ER, MICU, CCU and SICU. Images were auto-routed to the defined areas providing access to Radiology images only. The year was 1995, the site was a 300 bed single facility hospital and the PACS was homegrown using software from a software only vendor and a 250GB optical jukebox for storage.
Today’s PACS are web-based and light years away from my first PACS. Networking technology has grown tremendously along with computing power and software development platforms. Modern PACS are designed for large enterprise implementations including WAN connectivity to serve multiple facilities providing access to images from Radiology, Cardiology, Pathology, Endoscopy, Dental, Medical Photography and other clinical areas. Today’s PACS environment includes seamless integration with HIS/RIS and EHR systems providing access to a variety of images and patient data at virtually any PC or workstation within the hospital or health system.
Storage for the modern PACS is usually allocated from a much larger enterprise storage solution designed to be scaled up to meet future data storage needs. These intelligent storage systems can assign priorities to certain data and create rules for data management between different media types. Unlike my 250GB write once read many jukebox from the nineties, today’s PACS archive is only a portion of the enterprise storage system consisting of multiple technologies ranging in size from Terabytes (TB) up to Zettabytes (ZB).
PACS is no longer an acronym synonymous only with Radiology. Today PACS actually stands for Enterprise Images and Data Archiving and Communications System, but PACS does sounds better than EIDACS.