Survey: Demise of PACS has been greatly exaggerated

Current trends in radiology imaging continue to shift at a rapid pace. However, predictions about the demise of picture archiving and communications systems are unfounded.

That’s among the findings of a survey of nearly 300 radiologists and medical imaging leaders by Reaction Data, a research and consulting firm.

“The rumors of PACS death have been greatly exaggerated,” according to Reaction Data. “PACS have been, and still is, very much the hub of the radiology department.”

The firm examined which vendors radiologists are using for PACS— vendor-neutral archive and viewer—what they think about their PACS vendor and why, if they are planning to switch vendors, as well as the degree to which radiologists are using a best-of breed approach or a one-stop shop.

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Over the past few years, the firm observes that they have seen a bit of a shift in which organizations using a one-stop shop approach for imaging solutions have begun considering a best-of-breed—deconstructed PACS—strategy instead.

However, in this latest survey, providers increasingly are moving away from best-of-breed systems for their imaging and are embracing a single-source PACS, vendor neutral archive and viewer configuration. In fact, only 28 percent of respondents prefer best-in-breed.

Two years ago, respondents wanted a single-source solution, then there was a move back to best-of-breed, followed by the return of a preference for single-source once again.

A technician looks at scanned imagery in the control room of the diagnostic imaging area at the Hong Kong Integrated Oncology Centre in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Equipped with biopsy facilities, body scanners, and quiet 'VIP' chemotherapy rooms, the Hong Kong Integrated Oncology Centre is the first of a string of such facilities that TE Asia Healthcare Partners, a portfolio company funded by TPG Capital, is planning in Asia. Photographer: Xaume Olleros/Bloomberg

While some organizations embrace the benefits of using multiple vendors, others prefer the accountability and relationship growth of a single vendor. The top 5 vendors with the largest share of the viewer market include: GE Healthcare, Change Healthcare, IBM (Merge), Fuji, and Agfa.

“As single-source seems to be what radiology departments are moving toward, it’s no surprise that GE hovers around the 20 percent mark, the same percentage they have in the PACS space,” according to the authors of the report.

The top 5 vendors with the largest share of the vendor-neutral archive market include, in order: Hyland, GE Healthcare, IBM (Merge), Philips and Fuji.

In terms of annual study volumes, a quarter of respondent organizations are conducting 100,000 to 200,000 studies each year, about one-fifth are doing between 5,000-25,000 and 15 percent are impressive workhorses doing more than 500,000 studies.

Additional information on Reaction Data's research is available here.

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