Nine Steps to Selecting a PACS Vendor

Nov 16, 2016

The search for a Picture Archiving and Communication System partner can be daunting with multiple vendors each promising a different combination of software, hardware, support and data storage.  Here are 9 simple steps to help guide you through the PACS vendor selection process:

  1. Identify all stakeholders and ensure everyone is given the chance to provide input. Key stakeholders should include the C-suite, physician users, IT resources, PACS administrators and imaging technologists.
  2. Detail out the current architecture of your PACS. Identify the modalities, volume by modality, age of owned PACS hardware, number of users and data storage method, including disaster recovery.
  3. Decide how you would like your PACS to perform in the future. What features and functionality do you want it to have? Do you want it to be on-premise, cloud based or hybrid architecture?
  4. Define what challenges you would like the PACS vendor to help alleviate. Do you want to improve productivity? Do you desire to reduce transcription costs? Are certain capabilities required to grow your business? What level of support is needed to take the burden off of your internal team? Do you want to increase efficiency by reducing manual data entry?
  5. Lay out a realistic timeline that provides the necessary time to complete the various stages of work. Depending on the individual needs of your practice or hospital, this timeline will likely be around 2 months long from start (Distribute RFP) to finish (Select and sign final vendor) for an imaging center or longer for a hospital setting.
  6. Develop the RFP, including steps 1-5. Instead of listing multiple questions about specific functionality, simply ask for this information: “How will you resolve our issues and improve our ability to offer quality patient care?”
  7. Distribute the RFP Solicit referrals from industry peers and look outside the top ten lists for PACS vendors that may offer more cost effective solutions.
  8. Evaluate the RFP responses. Since it’s difficult to compare various proposals as apples to apples, ensure that you are evaluating the vendors across 6 key areas as equitably as possible.
    1. Solution architecture (on-premise vs. cloud vs. hybrid)
    2. Software functionality (ease of use, speed, toolset, image distribution)
    3. Total cost of ownership (Estimate 5 year TCO with hardware, support and indirect costs included).
    4. Implementation/integration (data migration, clinical information system integration and others)
    5. Data Storage (available off-site and secure, redundant storage with disaster recovery)
    6. Support (network, PACS hardware and software, included or available as a service agreement)
  9. Select the PACS vendor and negotiate contract. Following these guidelines will ensure that you make the best possible vendor selection.


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