PACS to Go…

The demand for images and information has grown well beyond the traditional PACS workstation. In the endless pursuit of anytime – anywhere images and information, healthcare and technology vendors have taken us from viewing radiology images on bulky 80 lb CRT monitors to LCD & plasma flat panels to wireless tablet PC’s and now on to handheld PDA’s and mobile phones.

Flashback – I remember sitting at a clinical PACS workstation in 1994 thinking that mobile technology will revolutionize how images are delivered to physicians and other clinical resources. I had no idea we would one day be able to query an image archive, retrieve comparison and current images, review a wet read or final interpretation, then make a call to confer with a colleague all from a device that literally fits in the palm of your hand.

In the words of my seventeen year old son, “The Nineties are dead and gone…Welcome to the new Millennium”. Companies like GE, Philips, Cisco, Samsung and Apple are making the concept of real-time patient data at the point of care a reality. Thanks to technology with weird names like Wi-Fi, 3G and EDGE coupled with devices with even more bizarre names like Palm, iPhone and Instinct; clinicians will have the ability to make crucial patient care decisions anytime – anywhere.

I recently had the privilege of beta testing software for a PACS vendor who will remain anonymous for now. This proprietary software relies on high-speed telecom services or wireless broadband and hand held devices capable of viewing and manipulating high definition images. After three weeks of beta testing during my travels from Southeast Texas to Northeast Ohio and back, all I can say is… Beam me up Scotty. Unfortunately I am bound by a vow of vendor secrecy but trust me when I say that PACS and Technology geeks are in store for a treat beyond belief.

Of course there will be limitations due to image size and resolution and then there are ACR & NEMA regulations mandating the standards for interpreting diagnostic images. This more than likely will not change but soon Radiologists and other clinicians will truly be able to choose whether they want to work at a desk or take their PACS to Go…

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