Are “Hanging Protocols” Necessary in Cloud PACS?
Hanging Protocol is a legacy term that refers to the systematic method of hanging X-ray film on a light box. Even as digital imaging and PACS became a standard part of the radiology landscape, the term remained, and most traditional PACS systems provided the functionality of both predefined and user configurable Hanging Protocols.
The rationale behind of the using these protocols, even with digital images it that it enables the radiologists and clinicians to view the imaging data in an expected and order that is optimal for them to review, depending upon the parameters of the imaging case.
Therefore, even when moving totally away from the hardware-bound traditional PACS and into the cloud retaining Hanging Protocols is considered a “best practice.” Like traditional PACS Cloud PACS often offer a preset as well as configurable options for the protocols. However, with traditional PACS, modifying the protocols is difficult for users to do “on the fly” for their own preferences, while in Cloud PACS, it can be much easier for users to modify as needed.
Benefits of Hanging Protocol
The use of a standard hanging protocol allows the medical professional to review and study medical image views for patients in a particular predictable sequence, which allows the medical practitioner to more efficiently analyze medical image views for a large number of patients. Hanging protocol increases radiologists’ efficiency by saving the time they spend in manual reordering of the images for viewing for diagnosis. Hanging protocols vary based on modality, body part, department, personal preference, etc.
Initial configuration and testing of these protocols is a key step in the successful implementation of a PACS system. Furthermore, when a medical organization provides mobile access to PACS images via Cloud-based systems, then it is imperative that the Cloud-based viewing system support the same hanging protocol so that Radiologists can continue to see all patient information and view X-rays in the predictable order that they expect, no matter whether they are viewing the data on an actual PACS screen in the hospital, or on their mobile note pad from home.
Additionally when implementing a Cloud PACS within an existing Healthcare information system (HIS), Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems, Radiology Information Systems (RIS), or Cardio-Vascular Information System (CVIS), the Cloud PACS must be able to adapt to the needs of the system with which it will interface.
Providing Efficient Patient Care
The various infrastructures used in today’s healthcare organizations are designed to provide efficient patient care, therefore, theoretically contributing to better patient outcomes. A Cloud PACS system may store images from many different modalities, such as Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance (MR) and others, while a RIS, EMR, CVIS, or HIS may contain non-image information, such as physician reports, disease history, and other patient associated data.
By incorporating the Cloud PACS into these other infrastructures, Radiologists view the Cloud PACS within the same log-in session as the non-image data, in order to review images and provide a report with a diagnostic conclusion to the patient’s clinician. Clinicians also use the CLoud PACS to review images. In order to make a conclusion on the reviewed case, the radiologist/clinician can organize the relevant data on his computer or tablet screen, maintain the hanging protocol that he/she prefers. The order depends on many parameters, such as the imaging modality of the exam under review, the requested procedure, the body part scanned, the existence of prior studies and previous reports, and others.
Improved Radiology Workflow
This ability for the radiologist to review other information such as patient history, prescriptions, clinical notes, etc., that are related to the case, along with images that are presented in the proper hanging protocol, and also easily rearranged by the radiologist, if desired, can help to eliminate Radiology bottlenecks and get the diagnosis to the physician much more quickly
It’s important to remember that most radiologists cite the set-up of hanging protocols as their most time-consuming issue. This, coupled with the lack of additional medical information in traditional PACS can slow the radiologist in his diagnosis, as he makes telephone calls to request additional information.
Radiology Services Online provides true hanging protocol in a Cloud-based PACS system that can also be incorporated into an existing EMR, RIS, CVIS, or HIS, so that images and reports can be viewed in the protocol desired, and with one log-in to the medical records system.