PACS System - Is Your Medical Image Storage System a PACS?
There were times in the medical field when diagnostic films were printed and transported by hand from one medical professional to another. Patients were, at times, asked to pick up files to move them from one office to another. With the advent of Internet technology and the 1996 HIPAA Act, medical professionals no longer have to wait for medical imaging files, reports and dictation as long as they are part of the PACS system.
PACS can be defined as a large group of personal computers systems connected as one large database. Using critical technology, medical images and files are stored on these databases so one or more medical professionals can access the information simultaneously. Several key elements are required for use of a PACS system such as image compression with JPEG 2000 and DICOM image standards.
The first step in creating a universal database of patient files was security. The HIPPA act of 1996 sets standards and guidelines for medical software and medical Internet connections to protect personal patient information. With that in place, medical imaging software was needed to create images that could be rendered virtually on a computer screen and stored. Medical images are huge, so images needed to then be compressed for easier and faster transferring and storage. This is where JPEG 2000 and JPIP (a medical streaming software) comes into play. When the images are rendered, DICOM imbeds information into the file to prevent disconnect between patient and image
Finally, after each piece of technology was developed and perfected, the PACS system was born. With PACS, images and files are stored in a virtual environment that can be accessed by medical professionals. A doctor in California can pull up a chest X-ray of a patient in Michigan at the same time a specialist in Florida is pulling the same file.