Tips for Successful RIS/PACS Demos at RSNA

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Christine Boehms HawkinsIt’s that time of year again, and if you are in the market for a RIS/PACS you are probably researching the products you will want to see demonstrated at RSNA.

By now you should have completed the following: established an internal team responsible for selecting the RIS/PACS; outlined your selection process; defined your system goals and system/vendor requirements in priority order; and, finally, received budget approval.

Below are tips for experiencing productive RIS/PACS demonstrations.

Before the RSNA Meeting
There are several ways to research RIS/PACS vendors if you don’t already have a list. Ask industry colleagues, review the RSNA exhibitor listing, look at KLAS scores, look at radiology media web sites, and finally do a Google search for RIS/PACS. Visit the vendors’ web sites to ensure their features and services meet your basic requirements.

E-mail/call the vendor to set up a demo appointment.

  • Don’t schedule demos at the end of the day when you may be tired.
  • Thursday, Sunday, and Wednesday are the least crowded days in the vendor booths.
  • Explain which product(s) you are interested in, your workflow, integration and other key challenges and your system goals. Be upfront about your budget range, purchase decision timing, and evaluation process. The more information you provide, the more the vendor can help you.

Develop a schedule that keeps track of your classes, demos, and meetings during the conference.

During the RSNA Meeting

  • Bring a notebook to keep all the facts, differences and follow-up questions straight between the different vendors and products.
  • Tell the demonstrator how much time you have available and what your specific workflow needs and overall challenges are, and what it is you really want to see.
  • Don’t waste your time or the demonstrator’s time on reviewing features that are irrelevant to your needs. Keep track of your time and announce when 10 minutes are left.
  • If you are viewing RIS/PACS demos with other people from your company be sure that everyone understands the objectives for each demo, and ask each vendor the same questions to compare apples to apples as much as possible.
  • Don’t focus on comparing how your current workflow is accomplished in the RIS/PACS you are reviewing. You are seeking to improve your efficiency with the new system, and your workflow will likely change in some ways.
  • Consider the needs of all your key system users and administrators when you review a RIS/PACS.
  • Don’t just focus on the product features shown in the demonstration, but evaluate the service offering and people you talk to as well.
  • Make sure you see or ask about the priority items in your system requirements list.
  • Key questions to ask a RIS/PACS vendor:
    • How many clients are using the version you are viewing?
    • What is the highest client volume the system has supported?
    • What are some differentiating features?
    • What results have their clients (ideally clients similar to you) experienced?
    • Who are some of their clients?
    • What is their implementation process and timing? How often are they on site, and what is their current installation schedule or backlog?
    • What are their support hours, methods and response times?
    • What is their sales process and how do they approach workflow evaluation and re-engineering?
  • Understand the difference between existing and new features. These commonly get presented together. Ask when new features will be released, and what stage they are currently in.
  • Build on each demonstration you receive. If you see an interesting feature or workflow ask the other vendors if they do it, and be sure to circle back to the vendors you previously visited.
  • If there are customers in their booth, and if it is appropriate, ask them what they think about the products and service.
  • If you didn’t meet your sales rep, make sure you get his/her contact info in case you decide to go with that vendor.
  • Give the vendor your badge to swipe so they can follow up with you, and email you product information. (The only things you want to carry home are good booth give aways.)
  • Bring plenty of water and mints. A detailed demo and discussion can last more than an hour.
  • Don’t lead a vendor on if your only objective is to get an expensive steak dinner at Smith & Wollensky’s.

After the RSNA Meeting
After you have caught up on your sleep and massaged your aching feet, summarize your findings into positives and negatives while it is fresh in your mind, and rank the products/vendors in order of