Digital imaging and electronic patient records in pathology using an integrated department information system with PACS.Pathol Res Pract. 2002; 198(10):679-84.PR
Picture archiving and communication systems have been widely used in radiology thus far. Owing to the progress made in digital photo technology, their use in medicine opens up further opportunities. In the field of pathology, digital imaging offers new possiblities for the documentation of macroscopic and microscopic findings. Digital imaging has the advantage that the data is permanently and readily available, independent of conventional archives. In the past, PACS was a separate entity. Meanwhile, however, PACS has been integrated in DIS, the department information system, which was also run separately in former times. The combination of these two systems makes the administration of patient data, findings and images easier. Moreover, thanks to the introduction of special communication standards, a data exchange between different department information systems and hospital information systems (HIS) is possible. This provides the basis for a communication platform in medicine, constituting an electronic patient record (EPR) that permits an interdisciplinary treatment of patients by providing data of findings and images from clinics treating the same patient. As the pathologic diagnosis represents a central and often therapy-determining component, it is of utmost importance to add pathologic diagnoses to the EPR. Furthermore, the pathologist's work is considerably facilitated when he is able to retrieve additional data from the patient file. In this article, we describe our experience gained with the combined PACS and DIS systems recently installed at the Department of Pathology, University of Magdeburg. Moreover, we evaluate the current situation and future prospects for PACS in pathology.