Designing the ideal delivery team for your next PACS project

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

To rebuild your next PACS, you’re gonna need a great team with a wide skill mix — here’s who we think you need.

Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) are the fundamental unit of data storage, viewing and interpretation for any radiology department. A good system is vital to the smooth functioning of any radiology service, and most of us have had these systems for over 10-years now.

For this you’re going to need the best team possible, and here’s our guide to who you need on that team.

That means for many services, it’s time to refresh and replace our technology again — in fact this step is overdue in most institutions. Buying any large scale business critical IT system is daunting first time round, but replacing such a beast presents a whole new set of challenges whilst keeping the busy service running at full steam.

For this you’re going to need the best team possible, and here’s our guide to who you need on that team.

Who to recruit to your PACS team

1. Radiology Service Manager

Keeping the ship afloat and moving throughout the PACS replacement is this person’s priority so you need them to be aware of all issues, risks and benefits of the new product in some detail throughout the deployment. That’s why they are a vital board member. A good service manager is also well positioned with contacts throughout a Trust to help you make things happen when you need time sensitive changes.

2. PACS Manager

There’s nobody that is going to be impacted more than this character… in fact, it might be several characters and we suggest that one is chosen to be a constant on the delivery team board.

This person is the glue central to your project, they will be the port of call for all problems from end users, radiologists, clinicians and will act as the key bridge to vendors during the process. That’s because there is simply nobody else who gets as close to the detail of problems than the PACS manager.

3. Radiologist

As the medical specialism who use the PACS in the most intensive and critical way, you need deep investment from at least one representative from this group. We suggest you do not just automatically pick the department lead because they are usually already a busy person and are not naturally the most technical. Choose the character you trust most to make smart technology decisions and to represent the requirements of your workforce. They need to be a strong person to resist the whims of others, able to recognise the greatest collective need and communicate them well to the PACS group and vendor.

4. Project Manager

Ideally you should have a professional project manager with the skills to set timelines, organise meetings, venues and ultimately keep the project on track when times get rough. A knowledge of radiology is a bonus but is not critical, however if you do get a PM with no internal knowledge we recommend a thorough induction of “How the radiology service works”.

5. Radiographer

Your chosen candidate needs to be sufficiently senior and experienced to have a good overview of the different sub-units of a radiology service. However, they should be sufficiently pluripotent to embrace new ideas and ways of working beyond the current status quo. A desirable career path is having worked in multiple hospitals, perhaps with overseas experience. An interest in technology is desirable and interest in workflow development is essential.

6. An Executive Board Member

This person need not attend every single meeting, especially when you are wading deeply through a bug or technology glitch. However, the ability to communicate progress and expectations to the executive body through a trusted voice is important and should repay itself in returned favours and an ability to fix or prioritise the impossible.

7. Your Vendors

Clearly a PACS replacement without your vendors just isn’t going to happen. Please observe the fact we state vendors pleural. This is because you are likely to have the following:

  • Exiting vendor — perhaps not as interested as you may hope
  • Incumbent vendor — Already got a contract and not looking to be either overly helpful or a hindrance
  • Inbound vendor — trying hard to be great but vitally lacking in internal knowledge of the organisation and current systems

Your vendors should sit at the table as often as possible to prevent discussions wasted wondering if something is possible or when something is going to happen. This is likely to require the use of web meetings or conference calls.

Getting it right

Remember your PACS delivery team should be agile and you can swap people in and out but don’t do this too often as you will lose continuity. Aim to keep a core set of individuals who start and end the project.

For further advice on how to form a successful PACS delivery team, The Yorkshire Imaging Collaborative provide consultation and regular workshops.

What do you think? Do you have any tips on getting the PACS delivery team right?