BACKGROUND: 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.
OBJECTIVE: To improve the efficiency and clinical workflow of an academic neurosurgical practice when evaluating patients with outside radiological studies.
METHODS: Open-source software and commercial hardware were used to design and implement a departmental picture archiving and communications system (PACS).
RESULTS: 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.
CONCLUSION: 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.
ABBREVIATIONS: DICOM, digital imaging and communications in medicine
EMR, electronic medical record
IT, information technology
PACS, picture archiving and communication system