A mainstay of hospital imaging departments, picture archiving and communication systems, or PACS, are costly—and delicate—equipment. And if recent market projections are accurate, there will likely be even more of them in the coming years. Below, Esteban Rubens, global enterprise imaging principal at Mountain View, Calif.-based Pure Storage, discusses what’s driving growth in the PACS sector and how hospitals can reduce their total cost of PACS ownership.

24×7 Magazine: ResearchandMarkets is projecting the global vendor neutral archive (VNA) and PACS market to top $3.87 billion by 2023. What’s propelling this growth?

Esteban Rubens

Esteban Rubens

Esteban Rubens: The digitization of radiology in emerging markets will be the greatest driver of growth. The PACS market in North America, Western Europe, Japan, and Australia, and New Zealand is completely saturated, but Latin America, Eastern Europe, and China, India, and other emerging markets will be leapfrogging several generations of early PACS to modern integrated products. Examples of this include a radiology PACS, a cardiovascular PACS, a PACS with 3D capabilities, a VNA—all of which offer server-side rendering (HTML5) and cloud awareness.

24×7: How has the global PACS market evolved in the last decade? How do you expect it to evolve even more in the coming years?

Rubens: The evolution in the global PACS market has been about capturing more of the extremes—extremely small sites with managed services in the cloud, and extremely large sites with a combination of server and network virtualization, flash storage, and 10/25/50 Gbps Ethernet. I expect that trend to continue in the coming years, with a stronger emphasis on browser-independent viewers (HTML5 with server-side rendering, requiring no component downloads or “zero-download viewers”), and the integration of artificial intelligence tools within the existing workflows, to support study prioritization in the reading list, region-of-interest color-coding as image overlays, tumor and lesion scoring direct from AI-powered modalities, and more.

24×7: What are some of the key barriers to PACS implementation and why?

Rubens: Barriers to PACS implementation outside of the saturated markets described previously revolve around the price of software and its ongoing maintenance, the lack of IT professionals to maintain the infrastructure—which is a driver of the move to cloud-based solutions—and the lack of customizable PACS as the dominant players tend to be heavily U.S-. and Europe-centric.

24×7: From a medical equipment perspective, what else do you want to tell 24×7 Magazine readers about the PACS sector?

Rubens: There seems to be a growing demand from PACS customers and prospects for the latest IT developments to be incorporated into any clinical application that they consider. Beyond HTML5 and other technologies that make clinical viewers simpler, faster, and safer, there are modern IT infrastructure products and methodologies that minimize—or eliminate—downtime and allow for greater flexibility, such as the ability to fail over to a public cloud.

In this new “multi-cloud” world we live in, there is no reason for a small or medium-sized healthcare organization to expend precious capital funds to build a disaster recovery (DR) datacenter that will seldom, if ever, be used. It’s possible to have the same or better level of redundancy, protection, and regulatory security with a cloud-based DR instance that only requires operational expenditure at a fraction of the overall total cost of ownership.