Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dear Clinician:

Dear Clinician:

I wanted to thank you for letting us know about your recent purchase of a new Computed Radiography/Computed Tomography/MRI/PET/US system. In this time of uncertainty in the medical field, when government is closely scrutinizing such things, I find such an investment for patient convenience very impressive. We really appreciate the opportunity to interpret the images for you.

Your business manager and/or IT guy informed us that your new scanner came with image storage, sort of a PACS, apparently, so you won't be using ours. To facilitate our workflow, we are taking the liberty of having your modality transmit to our full, hospital-level PACS and RIS, at no charge, since you don't want our storage.

I have to pause at this point and point out a few of the capabilities of a full fledged PACS which may not be available on the limited machinery the modality vendor gave/sold/leased to you. To me, the interpreting radiologist, the most important problem is the lack of easy access to prior exams. Yes, you may be able to retrieve a prior on today's patient, and manually send it on to us, but that is inconvenient at best, and at worst it might not happen. Our real PACS has them all available on spinning RAID. And how about reports on that prior exam? We keep those on our RIS. Do you have backups on everything in case of disaster? Where are they stored? (To qualify as a full PACS, we maintain redundant, off-site storage.) And we have our own PACS gurus to take care of everything.

We in radiology appreciate it when you consult us on various issues. We stand ready to assist you in selecting the right scan for your patients. My group also has considerable expertise in PACS, and frankly, it would have been a lot easier in the long run had you consulted us rather than gone ahead with the vendor's recommendations. We might not be able to beat their price, but I guarantee we can provide a better PACS/RIS product, not to mention better service. But don't worry, we'll make it work. . .somehow. We wouldn't leave you (and your patients) out in the cold.


Oh, and a note to the vendors...

I understand that you sell equipment for a living. This is what puts food on your table. I get that. No doubt you are hurting in this day and age, so when you find a clinician who has just stumbled on the idea of placing a scanner in his or her office (for patient convenience, of course), you feel compelled to equip said clinician with as many acoutrements as possible. I would ask you, beg you, cajole you, and even strongly urge you to think long and hard about what you are selling them.

There is more to scanning than the scanner, and a LOT more to image storage than a $1,000 off-brand PC with cheap software. You know that. Just make sure your marks, I mean customers, are made aware of that, too. Ultimately, the patients will suffer if you don't.

Thanks, and have a nice day.

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