PACS & Profits

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From imaging centers to community hospitals to large medical centers, clinicians tell first-hand how PACS is making a big impact on cost-cutting - facilitating significant cuts in film and operating budgets, file room, technologist and radiologist staffing and lost films - and improving workflow, radiologist and technologist productivity and speeding image and report turnaround to caregivers.


PACS ROI at Wyoming Valley Health Care SystemBy Chris Galanda, CIO

Northeastern, Pa.-based Wyoming Valley Health Care System (WVHCS) was founded in 1992 through the merger of Nesbitt Memorial Hospital and Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. A 420-bed acute care facility, Wyoming Valley has more than 3,000 employees, including 11 contracted radiologists who perform more than 175,000 imaging procedures per year.

With this many procedures, we were extremely interested in pursuing a picture archiving and communication system (PACS) to go with our existing Siemens NOVIUS radiology information system (RIS). After investigating various PACS options over the course of three years, WVHCS decided to implement Siemens SIENET PACS in late 2003. Our PACS implementation objectives were to:

  • Integrate with our existing RIS
  • Improve workflow
  • Improve report turnaround times
  • Decrease operational costs
  • Increase patient referrals
  • Increase patient and physician satisfaction
  • Maintain HIPAA requirements

In particular, we sought to decrease imaging report turnaround time. We wanted to achieve a turnaround of about 18 hours from when the imaging order was first placed to the physician's final signoff on the report.

The Wyoming Valley RIS/PACS now seamlessly combines images, data and voice recognition capabilities using the Siemens Command Center, which integrates NOVIUS v. 26 with SIENET v. 42 PACS. Everything can be accessed using one keyboard and one mouse. And our physicians can access images and radiology reports from their offices or homes via the SIENET MagicWeb application. The reports and images are available to the referring physicians over this web-based distribution system just minutes after signoff by the radiologist.

With PACS, the total turnaround time for 100 percent of studies performed in WVHCS Imaging Services, from order to electronic signoff of the report, has been steadily reduced; in the third quarter of 2004, it was down to 19.3 hours. More specifically, from time of order to electronic signoff, 90.7 percent of our reports were distributed in 10.28 hours (i.e., just 7 hours from the time the test is completed).

The PACS cleaned up our backlogs of film waiting to be reviewed as well. In the past, there used to be 700 images waiting in the queue at any given time, but now that is down to 50. Film costs decreased by 65 percent, for annualized savings of $432,000, and we expect this number to further decrease as we continue to migrate equipment to the OR.

The average number of lost studies per month was reduced from 25 prior to the PACS implementation, to zero afterwards. The PACS administrator or her designee generates three data quality reports on a daily basis that are checked to confirm the integrity of our data.

WVHCS also has seen anywhere from a 35 percent to 126 percent increase in productivity (number of cases handled per month) for our radiologists. This percentage is dependent on the types of exams that they are reading. In addition, the number of staff radiologists has decreased from 14 to nine.

We also were able to reduce by six the number of full-time employees needed to maintain the film library (by moving these FTEs to open positions in comparable jobs such as scheduling and reception). The annual salary/benefit reduction in the film library to date has been $132,000.

PACS at Sacred Heart Hospital Reduces Costs, Staff and Boosts VolumeBy Belle Rodrigues RT(R), Director of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, and Megan Turk RT(R), PACS Administrator

As part of ongoing service enhancement efforts, strategic investments have been made in technology, specifically in the high-volume diagnostic imaging department at Sacred Heart Hospital, a 243-bed Catholic medical center located in central Allentown, Pa.

The savings in cost and time management achieved with the PACS solution are indisputable. Misys Image Management, a web-based picture archiving and communication system (PACS) powered by eRad/
ImageMedical technology, has helped to streamline imaging processes, maximize staff productivity, reduce imaging space, nearly eliminate film