The ‘A’ in PACS…
Last Updated on Monday, 18 June 2012 02:50
Written by deepwellarchive
Monday, 18 June 2012 02:50
June 18, 2012
The ‘A’ in PACS…
PACS, or Picture Archive and Communication System, is an integrated technology solution designed for the management, viewing, sharing, temporary and long-term storage of medical image data acquired from diagnostic imaging equipment. Today we’d like to define the “A” in PACS, or the archive portion of a PACS solution.
In general technology terms, “archive” implies the long term storage, or more aptly put, the long term preservation of a file or electronic record of some sort. In the context of a PACS, the file is typically an image file, or rather a combination of image files, comprising an imaging study. There may be textual or audio reports associated with the file as well. These images must not only be stored for the long term, but they must be cataloged and easily recovered from the archive for many years into the future (typically 7 years and longer).
In broad terms, the long term preservation of medical image files must be accomplished in order for medical imaging organizations to be compliant with industry regulations and certifying organizations, i.e. HIPAA, The Joint Commission, ACR, etc., as well as to provide long term access to these images for clinical, diagnostic and legal purposes.
As images age and become less valuable from a business perspective, i.e. after the initial diagnosis and subsequent reimbursement or payment to the practice, they must be kept for long periods of time, typically seven years or longer, on a storage medium other than spinning magnetic disk. These long term storage mediums have most typically consisted of Magneto Optical and magnetic tape, until recently. The diagnostic studies lose business value fairly quickly, but maintain a high clinical, compliance and legal value over time.
There are many difficult challenges associated with providing long term image archival, and many different solutions, which we will explore in subsequent posts.
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