Modern PACS, costs of pagers, HIPAA-enabled data centers

July 24, 2014


Must-haves for a modern PACS

Stephan Popp, CEO of aycan Digitalsysteme, lays out the six key areas that need to be covered in a modern picture archiving and communication system (PACS) workstation to address user needs today and well into the future.
  1. Diagnostics with integrated 3D post processing. Most current PACS workstations are designed for 2D applications. To achieve 3D post processing, in many cases, suppliers “mount” 3D systems or additional specific workstations to their 2D PACS, which means studies have to be loaded twice and the consistency and ease of use of operating these systems are different. 3D and its MPR, MIP and thick-slab applications should be a PACS standard.
  2. Tumor analysis by easy lesion management. A modern PACS should also support easy marking and retrieval of lesions, with the option of quantitative measurements according to RECIST 1.1, and include automatic, multi-modal registration of slices within data sets.
  3. Integrated dictation and diagnostics. There is a clear trend toward structured reading. Individually adjustable reading templates that automatically insert measurements into a report, as well as the integration of dictation and voice recognition solutions, should be part of a PACS solution.
  4. Reading and manipulation of CT scans. Out of all the modalities, a CT is by far the biggest factor in pushing a PACS system to the next level. Being able to easily read and manipulate CT images is key to a modern PACS.
  5. Vendor neutral PACS archives for handling and management of DICOM and non-DICOM data.  Most PACS installations have a tight lock on diagnostic workstations and the PACS server through proprietary protocols, yet there is an increasing desire to “liberate” PACS workstations, DICOM servers and archiving. A modern PACS should allow users and IT departments to separate diagnostic workstations from data to provide flexibility when choosing an archiving solution and interoperability of the PACS with other systems (actors) in the workflow.
  6. Access to images from anywhere.  The usage of mobile equipment from anywhere is a noticeable trend. To address this, a DICOM viewer app with safe cloud communication and the necessary FDA 510(k) and CE labeling should be in place in order to use it for diagnostic purposes.

Source: aycan Digitalsysteme

Cloud Services

Verizon expands its HIPAA-enabled footprint

Verizon is enlarging its Healthcare Enabled Services (HCES) to five additional data centers and offering a broader range of cloud and data center infrastructure services to help the healthcare industry meet federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements for safeguarding electronic protected health information (ePHI).

In addition to Miami, FL, and Culpeper, VA, healthcare organizations can now securely store their ePHI in Verizon data centers located in Richardson, Texas; Santa Clara, CA; Englewood, CO; Carteret, NJ, and Elmsford, NY. The facilities meet numerous high-level security compliance requirements.

Verizon’s aim is not only to make collaborating and coordinating care more seamless, but also to make managing ePHI easier and less expensive than organizations trying to do it on their own. According to the company, end-to-end infrastructure management through HCES is one key.

“Healthcare Enabled Services are current Verizon Cloud and Data Center Service offerings that meet applicable physical, technical and administrative security requirements for Business Associates under HIPAA/HITECH,” says Rich Black, Verizon’s Vice President of Healthcare Services. “Associated services include colocation (remote hands, smart hands), enterprise cloud (cloud plus backup) and managed hosting (database, applications backup), as well as intrusion detection protection and log aggregation for cloud and managed hosting.”

Black adds that along with each service, Verizon also provides a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement through which Verizon works closely with clients to safeguard their patients’ ePHI*. Healthcare clients can also leverage additional benefits such as Verizon’s Professional Security Services (PSS), including assessment and risk management services.

* Each client remains responsible for ensuring that it complies with HIPAA and all other applicable laws and regulations.

Source: Verizon


Costs of communications inefficiencies tallied in new report

How much are pagers really costing your organization in the era of accountable care? That’s the $64,000 question a just-released Ponemon Institute report tries to answer. In the end, it’s way more than 64 grand.

The Imprivata Report on the Economic Impact of Inefficient Communications in Healthcare” estimates the monetary hit of lost productivity in healthcare due to inefficient communications to be about $1.75 million per U.S. hospital and more than $11 billion industry-wide annually. Pagers and the lack of adoption of secure text messaging are listed as primary culprits. The study surveyed more than 400 healthcare providers in the United States about their typical communications processes during three clinical workflows: patient admissions, coordinating emergency response teams and patient transfers.According to the survey, 59 percent of respondents cited the main reasons why time is wasted when communicating with colleagues is that pagers are not efficient. Nearly two in five respondents cited that it is because texting is not allowed (39 percent), Wi-Fi is not allowed (37 percent) or email is not efficient (35 percent).

Other key report findings include:

  • Patient admission: Admitting one patient takes about 51 minutes, of which an average of 33 minutes (65 percent) is wasted due to inefficient communications. This translates into an annual loss of about $728,000 per U.S. hospital.
  • Emergency response coordination: Coordinating an emergency response team takes an average of 93 minutes per patient. Of this time, an average of 40 minutes (43 percent) is wasted due to inefficient communications. This equates to an annual loss of more than $265,000 per U.S. hospital.
  • Patient transfer: Transferring a patient to another facility or home care/hospice takes about 56 minutes, of which an average of 35 minutes (63 percent) is wasted due to inefficient communications. The total annual cost of this waste is about $754,000 per U.S. hospital.

Read the full report at

Letter To The Editor

Software needs an easy button

To the editor:
Congratulations on an excellent article [“Getting to the bottom of the IT list,” July 2014, Health Management Technology].

Reading this is equivalent to an all-day seminar with the top people you quote.
There is no need for extended discussion, their pithy comments capture what we need to know to buy good software.

I was struck by the first two, Stein and Blitch, saying ease of use and nimbleness is key contrasted with Glasser and Chaiken looking at the very top with mission, vision, finance and ops as key.

I myself favor ease of use and nimbleness.
Some quick calculations show that MS Office, for example, taking all the possible settings in each package, gives a combination possibility of many billions.

I find that MS Word constantly reformats my documents; I am asked by others to work on formats and fonts for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. If Bill Gates paid each user for the time wasted with his software, he would not be a rich man.
Robert Kambic
Retired Johns Hopkins Faculty Member


Many thanks for writing and for the kind words. HMT appreciates having loyal readers like you – in such lofty places, too.

In terms of software preferences, I’m with you.

Believe it or not, we, too, struggle with the same word processing program as we reformat text for online and print publication, but I suspect those formatting issues likely won’t be solved before we are able to select our satellite cable television programs on an a-la-carte basis. However, since Mr. Gates retired from his company he has dedicated his life and wealth to philanthropic pursuits, so maybe your astute comment might attract interest from his foundation. At the very least, it should qualify you to receive two free tickets to a Clippers home game now that his former protégé bought the team.

Keep reading and thanks for all you do.

Rick Dana Barlow

Editor’s Note: Kambic also served as the first manager of the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins.

Sponsored Recommendations

Clinical Evaluation: An AI Assistant for Primary Care

The AAFP's clinical evaluation offers a detailed analysis of how an innovative AI solution can help relieve physicians' administrative burden and aid them in improving health ...

From Chaos to Clarity: How AI Is Making Sense of Clinical Documentation

From Chaos to Clarity dives deep into how AI Is making sense of disorganized patient data and turning it into evidence-based diagnosis suggestions that physicians can trust, leading...

Bridging the Health Plan/Provider Gap: Data-Driven Collaboration for a Value-Based Future

Download the findings report to understand the current perspective of provider and health plan leaders’ shift to value-based care—with a focus on the gaps holding them back and...

Exploring the future of healthcare with Advanced Practice Providers

Discover how Advanced Practice Providers are transforming healthcare: boosting efficiency, cutting wait times and enhancing patient care through strategic integration and digital...