A PACS Administrator is an IT specialist in charge of the management and maintenance of PACS systems. But what is PACS and how is the day-to-day work of this professional? Read through the career and job profile of a PACS Administrator and how to successfully be one.
What is PACS?
The use of technology in the health sector has changed the world of medicine. New and advanced technology can have a direct impact on the physician’s work process and patient care.
One such technology is PACS – which stands for Picture Archiving and Communication System. Its primary function is to store medical images and facilitate communication between the hospital and clinic sectors.
PACS is widely used in radiology and thus, it works often together with RIS (Radiology Information System) storing X-ray films.
PACS improves the accessibility, security and distribution of exams and reports. For e.g., images are available on the computer screen for viewing immediately after the exam is complete, increasing productivity and reducing wait time.
Responsibilities of a PACS Administrator
The tasks of a PACS administrator can vary greatly depending on the size, scope and budget of the medical facility. For the most part, the position requires maintaining, managing, and troubleshooting a PACS system.
A PACS administrator also manages and implements the storage of all received digital images.
In the past, PACS administrators were primarily technical support staff who spent most of their time troubleshooting system problems. Over time, the profession has taken on new dimensions and many PACS administrators are now expected to be able to develop and plan strategies and provide technical support.
As medical imaging systems become more complex, many PACS administrators have begun to devote more time to related needs, such as training end-users. In the interest of making new systems more accessible to employees, they could also help design programs to improve the design and management of the system.
A PACS administrator can serve as a point of contact for the further development and improvement of a system in a medical facility. They also manage all updates to a system. This often includes managing supplier relationships in the context of expanding and maintaining the technology.
Day to day tasks of a PACS Administrator:
- Maintaining, managing, and troubleshooting of the PACS system
- Managing and implementing the storage of all received digital images from a variety of sources to build and maintain routing solutions for diagnostic images
- Developing and planning strategies, and providing technical support
- Training end-users and designing programs to improve management of the system
- Serving as a point of contact for the further development and improvement of a system in a medical facility
- Support multiple systems such as oMerge PACS, InteleRad PACS, McKesson PACS, Laurel Bridge, DICOM Systems, Fuji Synapse PACS
- Install, configure and administer the connection of modalities in the existing network
- Jointly responsible for the administration of user profiles
- Managing the updating and archiving of image data
- Managing supplier relationships and maintaining technology
- Collaborate with the IT infrastructure team to communicate storage and compute needs for the PACS application
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Skills and Requirements
The requirements for PACS administrator positions vary widely, making it difficult for most medical institutions to find a technician who is ideally suited to the needs of the organization. The job requires in-depth knowledge of radiology and solid IT skills.
In terms of technical skills, knowledge of Oracle database administration, Windows Server 2008 and 2012 servers, and DICOM and HL7 protocol domains is important. They also have knowledge of quality control and security.
A PACS Administrator is also required to have a good level of communication and have a minimum experience of one year in the field of Medical Informatics.
- Master the basics of medical technology
- Knowledge of the HL7 / DICOM standard in theory and practice
- Basic knowledge of database structures and can create database queries (e.g. SQL)
- Basic knowledge of current server operating systems, virtual environments and networks as well as the safe handling of client hardware / software
- Understanding of diagnostic images and workflows with Hospital Information Systems (HIS) and Radiological Information Systems (RIS)
- Working knowledge of VPN (virtual private network) and NAT (network address translation) technologies
- Preferred experience with Philips iSite, Carestream, Powershare, Sectra, Fuji Synapse, Fluency, etc.
- Structured and independent way of working
- Strong team player and the willingness for further training
- Good written and spoken communication skills
Background & Education
Many employers or institutions that seek PACS administrators prefer the employee to have a bachelor’s degree in a medical or technology field such as Radiology, Electronic Engineering, or Computer Engineering.
There are schools and programs that specifically focus on medical technology education, and this is where an aspiring PACS administrator could be trained for various PACS administrator jobs.
Additionally, there are several types of certification for different PACS administrator jobs, with each certification requiring slightly different knowledge and skillsets.
- A Certified PACS Interface Analyst (CPIA) is responsible for integrating and connecting the PACS and RIS systems. This is a highly technical position.
- A Certified PACS Systems Analyst (CPSA) must have a general understanding of the components of the PACS system and must understand the clinical and system administrator roles.
- The highest PACS certification is the Certified PACS System Administrator (CPSM). This certification is based on the CPIA and CPSA certifications.
- CPA – A PACS Certified Associate must have a general understanding of clinical technology and procedures.
- Certified Imaging Informatics Professional (CIIP)
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Salary of a PACS Administrator
The salary of a PACS tech depends on the specific role and tasks to assigned. For new graduates, the annual starting salary is up to $80,000. The average salary with a few years of experience is closer to $90,000. At senior level roles with considerable professional experience, annual salaries can go up to $100,000.
What does a PACS administrator make?
What is the average freelance rate for a PACS Specialist?
The freelancermap rate index in October 2020 shows an average hourly rate of $91 for freelancer PACS specialists. Considering an 8-hour working day, freelancers charge around $728 daily.