Department of Health forges on with PACS

The continuing take-up of the Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) proves a success story for NHS IT

Gathering numbers of NHS trusts are investing in the Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS), making it one of the more successful examples of NHS IT.

Increasing storage costs could drive the use of the cloud.

PACS is a digital imaging service  that combines hardware and software to store, manage, retrieve, distribute and present images used by hospital X-ray departments. 

These systems, which take digital images and send them electronically, replaced the use of film and sending copies to the relevant medical staff for diagnosis.

Accenture, which provides a PACS service to the NHS, has announced contract extensions and new contracts. 

University Hospitals in the Leicester NHS Trust will now be able to the service after signing a new contract. Recently the conglomeration of the North East & Eastern/East Midlands NHS Trusts signed contract extensions.

Accenture works with Agfa HealthCare, the software supplier for PACS and the Central Data Store, and Hitachi Data Systems, which supplies storage.

Accenture says it is seeing an 8% increase in the number of images captured every year with an 18% increase in their size. This creates a huge storage requirement which will be the responsibility of individual trusts now that the NHS National Project for IT ended in its centralised form. 

Accenture believes the high cost of storing data locally, combined with management and migration challenges, make the cloud an attractive option.

Accenture is urging NHS Trusts to get more from the cloud it uses to store the digital images by recommending that the PACS software also be hosted in it. 

“The storage problem is global, but around the world many healthcare organisations are moving to centralised, cloud-based storage solutions, storing both digital images and the PACS software in the cloud, which is in line with most other global industries for data management,” said Accenture.

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