Assessing the next generation of imaging IT

February 14, 2022
Health IT
From the January/February 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Buyer strategies are equally diverse, with differing attitudes and priorities when it comes to adopting cloud-hosting for their next PACS. Even within a healthcare organization, attitudes can vary widely, from skeptical among IT infrastructure management staff to curious (or even eager) among IT executives.

In enterprises where clinical stakeholders perceive the value of their organization’s IT staff to be low or unreliable, there is often a desire to “outsource” the IT infrastructure to the PACS vendor (who may be brokering the hosting to a third party or providing it themselves). Internal-facing IT organizations will need to be very customer-service focused and responsive to compete with these new options.

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Assessing cost over time, such as calculating a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), is important in determining both projected capital and operating expenses. Comparing these to existing, internal costs — including IT staff labor — is important to determine the benefit of cloud-hosting to an enterprise.

State of AI in imaging IT - This topic is too big to cover in depth here (and would be outdated by the time the article is published, with the speed of change in this area), but here are a couple of observations.

If you ask PACS (or other imaging IT solution) vendors about artificial intelligence (AI), be prepared to hear about their “AI Marketplace”. This is a term used to describe a strategy of using a variety of methods to incorporate the vendor’s own-developed AI-based apps along with some from third parties. Some third-party, AI-based apps may be resold by the PACS vendor, and for others only an integration may be offered (the buyer needs to source the third-party app for themselves). Almost every vendor has a roadmap with “several announcements pending”.

With investment in early stage, AI-focused imaging IT solution startups at a high level, we should anticipate some consolidation (and outright failures) in the marketplace over the next couple of years.

When I ask buyers what specific problem they want an AI-based app to solve, they often lack a well-defined response. In general, they want whatever value proven AI-based apps can provide. They often lack a defined process to validate and assess the value of adopting an AI-based solution.

Pricing Models - Another rapid change in PACS is the model by which the solution is priced. Historically, most PACS were purchased as a capital expense — including the software license and system implementation services — with recurring annual Support and Maintenance Agreement (SMA) fees as an operating expense. Some vendors offered solutions in more of a “subscription” model with the most common approach being a per-exam fee.

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