Health Imaging & IT set out to better understand and define the role of the PACS administrator through our inaugural PACS Administrator Salary Survey. And what did we learn? For starters, PACS administrators are earning between $45,000 and $80,000 a year - with the majority falling in the $60,000 to $70,000 range. Strong people and communications skills are the PACS administrator's most important asset. And the majority of the facilities PACS administrators work in are 90 to 100 percent filmless.
Here's a snapshot
The majority of survey respondents hold the title of PACS administrator, have a bachelors degree and are in charge of the PACS at their facility, which has 100 to 300 beds. The average facility in which the PACS administrator works does between 50,000 and 100,000 imaging procedures annually, is 90 to 100 percent filmless and is part of a network of six to 10 facilities in the Midwest. The majority of PACS administrators told us that they have been in their current role for one to three years and are between the ages of 35 and 40.
The Nitty Gritty
Almost 60 percent of respondents identify themselves as PACS administrators, while 20 percent are RIS/PACS managers and 13 percent work at PACS coordinators.
In addition to solid salaries, the numbers show that PACS administrators are appreciated - with 43 percent getting a raise in 2003 of 3 to 6 percent and 32 percent receiving a raise of 1 to 3 percent. Almost 6 percent were among the lucky to receive salary increases of 9 percent or more, but 12 percent got no bump in pay. This year, almost half of respondents expect to get a raise of 3 to 6 percent, while 39 percent expect to see an increase of 1 to 3 percent in their paycheck.
The majority of PACS administrator's have 1 to 3 years of experience, followed equally by those reporting 3 to 6 years of experience and less than a year. Most PACS administrators hold a bachelor's degree (42 percent), followed by 32 percent who hold an associate degree. Overall, PACS administrators have logged quite a few years in radiology, with the majority (26 percent) chalking up 20 years or more, followed by 8 to 10 years (11 percent) and 12 to 14 years (10 percent). Some 73 percent of PACS administrators found their current position while working at their facility, followed by those who networked with colleagues (19 percent).
PACS administration is somewhat of a solitary role full of responsibility - with 38 percent of respondents reporting they are the only PACS administrator at their facility and 84 percent are in charge of PACS operations. Some 32 percent report less than one other FTE for PACS and 26 percent have 1 to 3 FTEs helping to carry the load. The vast majority of PACS administrators (82 percent) work for the radiology department, while 13 percent work within the IS or IT department. A small percentage (4.4 percent) of PACS administrators work for clinical engineering or technical services.
What is the most important role of a PACS administrator? Strong people and communications skills (90 percent), followed by knowledge of RIS, HIS, HL7 and DICOM (71 percent), strong training skills (65 percent), strong negotiating and conflict resolution skills (53 percent) and leadership of a team (49 percent).
Aside from providing insight into today's PACS administrator and how he or she is compensated, we also learned a lot about hospitals transitioning to digital technology and PACS. Almost three quarters (71 percent) of the PACS administrators say their facility is 50 to 100 percent filmless, while only 10 percent say the facility is less than 10 percent filmless. Of the medical specialties receiving images, PACS administrators tell us the departments include: radiology (97.8 percent), emergency (89 percent), surgery (86 percent), cardiology and orthopedics (84 percent each), ob/gyn (81 percent), oncology (75 percent) and radiation therapy (67 percent).
One area that did surprise us was training, with respondents telling us that only 54.1 percent were reimbursed for training, while 46 percent received no reimbursement. It appears that the majority of training is being driven by vendor-provided training - with almost 80 percent of respondents having taken part. Yet, independent training maintains a healthy share of 47 percent. A much smaller percentage, 10 percent, of the survey base are Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers.
JOB DESCRIPTION: PACS ADMINISTRATOR
- Plan, coordinate, implement upgrades of PACS (equipment and software).
- Day-to-day operation/maintenance of PACS.
- Maintain integrity of PACS security, training, trouble-shooting & problem follow-up.
- Administrate clinical operations of PACS, including user accounts, documentation of procedures, definition & implementation.
- Coordinate installation of (new) PACS.
- Maintain productive, collaborative relationships with physicians, department managers & others in clinical leadership.
- Coordinate interactive/interface activities with vendors.
- Set up & supervise training on PACS (radiologists, technologists, technical support staff).
- Participate in the equipment buying team. Coordinate special projects for PACS.
- Involved in purchase of PACS.
- Coordinate film digitizing and CD processing activities.
- Participate in coordinating, planning, training & implementing teleradiology system.
- Supervise PACS support personnel.
- Manage department operating budget (estimate future staff and equipment needs).
THE FINE PRINT
Health Imaging & IT posted the on-line PACS Administrator survey of 29 questions on February 11th on our website, www.healthimaging.com. Notifications that the survey had been posted were emailed to PACS administrators in our subscriber database and also were posted on www.clubpacs.com and the Yahoo PACS users group at firstname.lastname@example.org. Throughout the next 4 weeks, 339 respondents completed the survey and emailed it for tabulation. Duplicate and incomplete surveys were eliminated. To encourage participation, a Dell handheld was given away in a raffle.