In addition to those efforts, the health system has started leveraging its EHR to access both its cardiac PACS and traditional PACS, enabling doctors to get a better picture of a patient’s health from a single source.
Because of all these changes, doctors and radiologists get near-instantaneous access to radiology images. Even files stored in the archive are retrieved more quickly, speeding patient care and improving caregiver satisfaction, Heil says. Michigan has seen similar results. With the addition of the new storage, the health system’s PACS top benchmark speed is about the same, but the worst performance is “an order of magnitude better,” Buckwalter says.
“Users tell us the PACS is working better and is more stable,” he says.
Instant Access Means Easier Access to Patient Images
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., provides another good example of what can happen when there’s enough storage and processing power so that all images and data can reside in a single repository.
The organization treats roughly 7,500 seriously ill children each year, and images are available on its PACS system for every single radiology test the hospital has performed since the early 1990s. That means memory and storage growth are imperative for immediate access to files, says Brad Woodall, the hospital’s coordinator of diagnostic imaging systems.
“It’s a lot of data and images,” Woodall says. “Few patients ever begin treatment at St. Jude, either, meaning probably 95 percent of our patients bring data from outside imaging with them, which we also make available in our PACS system to our physicians.” While other organizations archive their storage and only bring it online when it’s needed, St. Jude keeps everything online all the time. “It gives us the luxury of having instantaneous access to images and the ability to share those images.”