Report: Cardiology PACS, IS industries move toward integration

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Hospitals have embarked on the road to integrating cardiology images with non-image data in cardiology PACS (CPACS) and cardiovascular information systems (CVIS), but have not yet reached their ideal destination, according to a newly released study by IMV Medical Information Division, a Rockville, Md.-based market research firm.

According to the report, The Cardiology Information Continuum: Present Access and Future Integration Strategies for Cardiovascular Image and Information Systems, cardiac-related advances in imaging modalities such as CT, MR, PET/CT and SPECT imaging are creating the demand for CPACS capabilities. At the same time, cardiologists need the images to be integrated with related non-image patient information (e.g. hemodynamic monitoring, EKG and EMR patient information) to create structured reporting capabilities, the firm said.

“The industry is gaining momentum, as the CPACS and CVIS requirements are merging into an integrated cardiovascular image and information system solution (CVIIS),” said Mary Patton, director, market research at IMV. “As vendors seek to provide integrated solutions, the industry has changed dynamically. Since 2005, CPACS and CVIS vendors have undergone a continuous series of consolidations, including Philips with Witt Biomedical, GE with Dynamic Imaging, McKesson with Medcon, Agfa with HeartLab, Emageon with Camtronics and Fuji with ProSolv. This trend toward vendor consolidation may lead to greater consideration of integration issues in the early planning stages of future CPACS and CVIS installations.”

The report describes hospitals’ present access to cardiology PACS, explores the present relationship between hospitals’ cardiology PACS and radiology PACS installations, and identifies hospitals’ plans for the development of their cardiology image and information systems over the next three to five years, Patton added.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Cardiac cath and echocardiography images and structured reporting form the backbone of the ideal CVIIS, with either or both modalities specified by all of the respondents, but current CPACS/CVIS implementations are more likely to have access to images than to have a fully integrated structured reporting capability.
  • The respondents perceive that the initial system cost and issues related to system integration are the greatest obstacles in purchasing or upgrading their CPACS/CVIS systems.
  • Integration of radiology PACS with CPACS is occurring in stages, using the building blocks of a common data archive infrastructure, common databases, workstations and/or image visualization software. However, 45 percent of the respondents that have CPACS have not yet integrated any of these components with their existing radiology PACS.
  • Two-thirds of the hospitals that have a CPACS/CVIS already are planning to upgrade, replace, or add new capabilities to their current systems over the next three years, to meet their evolving needs.
  • In the smaller hospitals that are adopting CPACS/CVIS, the cardiology and radiology departments are more likely to share the responsibility for the implementation of CPACS systems than in the larger institutions.

Research for the study was gathered from a random sample of 202 department administrators who are CPACS decision makers, including cardiovascular services administrators, IT/MIS directors, CPACS managers, and radiology administrators in U.S. hospitals that have implemented or plan to implement cardiology PACS systems by 2009, according to IMV.