Monday, February 10, 2014

First comprehensive PACS seminar held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Teaching how to use a DICOM
and HL7 network sniffer
Saudi Arabia is undergoing a major transformation in the way it delivers healthcare. The intention is that by 2020, healthcare delivery in the region will look totally different. Clinical information, including medical images, will be accessed using a patient-centric approach, i.e. a physician won’t need to worry about where the patient was seen and where the information might reside. Institutions that function as the source of images and related information will submit so-called metadata about patients’ medical information to regional registries using XDS standards, which provide query and retrieve capabilities to access the information in a patient-centric manner.

Implementing these systems is a huge undertaking, and training the workforce to meet the demands of implementing and supporting these systems is therefore critical for success. OTech has trained healthcare imaging and IT professionals for the past six years in this region, including such places as Dubai, Egypt, and Kuwait, but, partnering with a local PACS technology provider i.e. PaxeraMed, this is the first time that a training class has been provided in Riyadh.

Participants from public and
private providers as well as vendors
Based on feedback from the attendees, it was clear that the problems with supporting PAC systems are universal. Issues between vendors are common and tools that visualize communication between modalities, RIS systems, a PACS and view stations are essential to show the DICOM and HL7 transactions. Simulators and network sniffers are invaluable for troubleshooting connectivity, and the attendees were very pleased to learn how to use these. These tips and tools were especially welcomed due to less vendor support there than I have seen and experienced in the US and Western Europe. Therefore, PACS support staff in the hospital itself has to be much more self-supporting and less reliant on vendor support.

I did find the students to be very eager to learn and they took in the new information with great energy and enthusiasm. This bodes well for the many other professionals that still have to be trained in the near future to make the 2020 e-health vision a reality.