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Biomed Imaging Interv J 2007; 3(1):e12-42
doi: 10.2349/biij.3.1.e12-42
© 2007 Biomedical Imaging and Intervention Journal


Picture archiving and communication system (PACS) in China: Current trends and future directions

Clarence Wu
GE Healthcare – Integrated IT Solutions, China

The investment in healthcare information technology in China has been increasing rapidly since 2001. By 2010, the annual spending on hospital IT infrastructure, software and professional services will approach US$1 billion.

Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) was introduced in China approximately 10 years ago. Today, PACS is one of the fastest growing healthcare IT segment, with growth rate exceeding 25% per year. Approximately 30% of Level 2 or Level 3 hospitals in major metropolitan areas have implemented PACS. Some of the key reasons driving PACS adoption include: government’s desire for high level of healthcare digitization by 2010; hospital needs to improve workflow efficiency and manage large patient volume effectively; and reduce costs and environment concerns associated with film and film processing. In addition, with the raising focus on public health and needs for disease surveillance, PACS has also become an enabler for clinicians to quickly diagnose and rule out infectious diseases such as Avian Flu and SARS.

In China, PACS are purchased through tendering process. The most common vendor selection criteria for new system purchase are service support capabilities, understanding of local requirements (workflow, functional and regulatory) and system integration functionalities (i.e. abilities to integrate with existing hospital information systems).

There is also strong emphasis on vendor’s ability to demonstrate return-on-investment. For many hospitals, PACS implementation is planned as multi-year, multi-phase project, with 40% of existing users planning system enhancement or upgrade within 2 to 3 years of initial system procurement.

Most existing PACS in China today may be classified as departmental or mini-PACS. However, clinicians and administrators alike are demanding tighter integration between PACS with Radiology Information System (RIS), Hospital Information System (HIS) and also patient electronic health record (EHR) to improve workflow efficiency and provide easy access to clinically relevant information. New generation of Enterprise PACS that supports all imaging procedures, wide-area distribution, integration of advanced visualization and computer-aided diagnosis is beginning to take hold. The emergence of Application Service Provider (ASP) model as a cost effective way to deliver digital image management and may finally accelerate adoption of PACS across China.

University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Official publication of

ASEAN Association of Radiologists
ASEAN Society of Interventional Radiology
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Asian Oceania Society of Radiology
College of Radiology, Academy of Medicine Malaysia
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South East Asian Association of Academic Radiologists

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Department of Biomedical Imaging, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Malaysia


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