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All five UC Health radiology, IT departments select unified PACS vendor

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | April 28, 2022
Health IT PACS / Enterprise Imaging
All five UC campuses have chosen Visage Imaging as their single PACS vendor. (Photo courtesy of Visage Imaging)
All five hospital radiology departments under the University of California Healthcare system and their IT counterparts have selected a single, unified PACS system for storing, accessing and displaying imaging studies.

The health system is made up of UCSF, UCLA, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UC Davis. Faced with the need to move PACS operations to the cloud and encrypt personal health information and personal identifiable information, the five campuses worked together to find solutions that aligned with their workflow and technical needs.

They chose Nuance workflow orchestrator (WFO) to launch multiple image display solutions and Visage Imaging for its Visage viewer, which provides user experience for radiologists and IT professionals and enables cloud use. “A key to the success of the project was the effort of representatives of each clinical section who served on the AIIMS steering committee. The ASC made sure that each section’s needs were represented in planning and implementation and kept the department involved and engaged throughout the process,” said UCSF Radiology imaging expert Dr. John Mongan in a statement.

Mongan and his colleague, Dr. Marc Kohli, were tasked in August 2019 with replacing their department’s PACS system. The solution was ten years old and would no longer be supported by the vendor. Upon finding that the other four UC radiology departments had a similar challenge, the two convinced them to team up with the informatics team at each campus to find a better one.

The collaboration involved 80 people from multiple disciplines who submitted a Request for Proposal to find worklist and image display solutions that came with cloud capabilities and a strong multidisciplinary approach. They also needed a system that would store information without affecting performance and one with encryption capabilities. “One major hurdle for us was using encryption when transferring images such as MRs and CT scans to the cloud. There are ways of doing this, but they’re not widely used. Coming up with solutions here was definitely a challenge,” said Jeff Block, UCSF Radiology director of infrastructure.

Following several interviews, discussions and a proof-of-concept pilot using UC data on UC equipment, the healthcare system chose the Nuance and Visage Imaging. In addition to launching multiple image display solutions, Nuance’s WFO offers strategic growth opportunities. The Visage viewer meanwhile gives UC users the ability to control which parts of their PACS operations they can move to the cloud. They can also immediately access a patient’s entire imaging history, meaning that retrieving prior exams will no longer be hindered by slow storage, and they can provide patients and physicians with their tests sooner. This allows for treatment to be drawn up and commence faster.

UCSF started using Visage as its single vendor for PACS in 2021, with the other campuses set to adopt it in 2022. A go-live at UCSF enabled radiologists and trainees to quickly adapt to their daily work with Visage. Image display and time spent switching between patients dropped dramatically and the department created hanging protocols that save time for interpretation. This allows radiologists to focus more on images. Breast and ultrasound imaging and workflow in particular improved due to there now being a single viewer for all their work.

All five will use it through 2028.

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