What does it take to be a successful PACS administrator? As we work with clients across the country, we are commonly asked this question. The answer lies in both understanding the multiple roles this person is asked to play and the resources that will be available to support him or her.
PACS administrators are asked to play many roles. Yes, a key role is daily monitoring of the PACS, integrated systems, and interfaces, as well as daily monitoring of data integrity. PACS administrators must essentially ensure that the radiology workflow—from examination acquisition and reporting through enterprise image access and viewing—runs smoothly. He/she must also ensure that the data integrity is maintained. Duties such as developing departmental worklists, detection and reporting of radiology examinations not archived to PACS, repairing examinations with incorrect status in PACS, and correcting misidentified patient examinations are all responsibilities of the PACS administrator.
However, the role of the PACS administrator goes well beyond that of day-to-day system maintenance. He/she is responsible for managing implementations, upgrades, and workflow changes. He/she must effectively communicate with a wide variety of stakeholders, from technologists, managers, and support staff to radiologists and referring physicians, clinical engineering, and modality and PACS vendors. In addition, the PACS administrator also carries the responsibility of training users. Once a PACS is implemented, training does not stop. New staff, PACS applications upgrades, the introduction of third-party software programs, and the operational workarounds deployed to circumvent PACS limitations all require training.
Given all these roles, what does it take to succeed? Many organizations focus entirely on whether the person should have a technologist background or an information technology background. In our experience, either can be effective and successful. What really determines success is his/her possession of four key skill sets:
Project Management Skills,
Clinical Workflow Reengineering Skills
These skills, along with a drive to continuously learn and succeed, the flexibility to adapt to the constant changes associated with emergent technologies, and “thick skin” to handle the customer service challenges surrounding enterprise stakeholder support will lead to success.
The final success factor is the organizational support provided to the PACS administrator. The organization must empower him/her to make change and set policy, assist in gaining stakeholder consensus and enforcing adherence to policy and procedures, and provide the encouragement and resources required to pursue professional development.