Thursday, September 3, 2015

An update on PACS professional certification.

PACS certification for imaging and information professionals has been around for about 10 years.
PARCA was established on January 1, 2005 and the CIIP certification by ABII (American Board of Informatics) was created not too long after that. Since then, it is estimated that more than 2,000 people have been PACS certified, and the certification is still going strong as new people enter this field or experienced professionals look to update their skills and get certified in their profession.
The titles CIIP and CPAS, CPSA and CPIA are becoming well known and used by professionals in this field. When talking with recruiters, they agree that certification is definitely an advantage when looking for a job opportunity as it shows that one has gone through the effort to study this subject matter and earn certification through a rigorous exam.

Certification is a requirement when you work in a clinical field, for example, as a radiological technologist, nurse or physician. Interestingly enough, it is not required when you work in the healthcare imaging and informatics field. However, potential legislation has been considered, in particular in the state of Texas, which would require everyone involved with maintaining and supporting medical devices to be certified. And yes, PACS is a medical device under the US federal FDA guidelines requiring specific clearance to be allowed on the market.

There are several other certifications in the healthcare imaging and informatics field, for example HL7 certification is quite popular for interface analysts and developers. More than 4,500 people are HL7 certified as of now, more than twice as many as those who hold PACS certifications. The CPHIMS (Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems) certification is also well known and highly regarded in the IT community.

With the increase of PACS implementations in the Middle East and the Asia Pacific region, there has also be an uptick in the number of PACS certificates issued in these regions. OTech just did the first PACS certification training in Singapore and has performed several in the Middle East over the past few years, responding to the increasing demand for training in these areas. However, the number of PARCA certificates issued is still only about 2 percent of overall certifications, compared with the 23 percent share of CPHIMSS certifications in Asia. The Middle East has an 11 percent share of the CPHIMSS certifications while for PARCA has a 5 percent share. 

The statistics for PARCA certification holders is shown in the table below. 

PARCA Certifications by country (as of 9/1/15)
Middle East
Australia and New Zealand
Latin America

As you can see, 90 percent are in the US and Canada, however the international portion is fast expanding. One of the main reasons for the international following of the PARCA certification is its international board and governance as well as the capability to take a certification exam by on-line proctoring, which makes it accessible from literally any place in the world at any time.

Certification is definitely a good thing to have, and remember, it is not about the piece of paper you can show, which could be an advantage if you want to change jobs, but more about the journey, i.e. the fact that you have to upgrade your skill set and learn about topics that you might not get involved with in your regular day-to-day work but are important to know and understand.