Implementation of a Departmental Picture Archiving and Communication System: A Productivity and Cost Analysis

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Digital radiology enhances productivity and results in long-term cost savings. However, the viewing, storage, and sharing of outside imaging studies on compact discs at ambulatory offices and hospitals pose a number of unique challenges to a surgeon’s efficiency and clinical workflow.


To improve the efficiency and clinical workflow of an academic neurosurgical practice when evaluating patients with outside radiological studies.


Open-source software and commercial hardware were used to design and implement a departmental picture archiving and communications system (PACS).


The implementation of a departmental PACS system significantly improved productivity and enhanced collaboration in a variety of clinical settings. Using published data on the rate of information technology problems associated with outside studies on compact discs, this system produced a cost savings ranging from $6250 to $33 600 and from $43 200 to $72 000 for 2 cohorts, urgent transfer and spine clinic patients, respectively, therefore justifying the costs of the system in less than a year.


The implementation of a departmental PACS system using open-source software is straightforward and cost-effective and results in significant gains in surgeon productivity when evaluating patients with outside imaging studies.


DICOM, digital imaging and communications in medicine


EMR, electronic medical record


IT, information technology


PACS, picture archiving and communication system

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