The picture archiving and communications system is a relatively new development in the healthcare industry. In a nutshell, it creates digital images of important files that are uploaded into the system so that there is no need for hard film copies. The files are first captured, and then displayed by the system through means of digital transportation. Essentially, PACS originated from a need to place all important documents and files into a system that could be accessed by multiple professionals; the files can even be remotely accessed by several users at one time.
The biggest advantage the healthcare industry has for using PACS is the fact that there are no paper files to transport. The benefit of not having hard copies really comes into play when a patient has to visit multiple physicians, radiologists or other healthcare professional at the same time. Prior to the system, a patient would have to obtain several copies of the same records so that they could show each new provider their medical history. Occasionally, there would also be a need for multiples of the same procedure or test because the results were not easily distributed to all parties.
Aside from being more convenient for the patient to see multiple practitioners at the same time, the archiving system also works toward eliminating the mistakes in care that result from the misinterpretation of a handwritten chart. This in turn makes it far less likely for a patient to be given the wrong diagnosis, medication or treatment because all practitioners involved, whether they are at a hospital or routine health clinic, have the opportunity to review the same files before initiating anything.