A comparative cost analysis of picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) with conventional radiology in the private sector.
Radiology is rapidly changing in the 21st century and globally there is a transition of radiology departments to digital imaging technology. The major challenge confronting radiology practices is to obtain cost savings and productivity gains once PACS is established. The purpose of the study is to undertake an incremental cost analysis of PACS compared to a conventional radiology department. Cost savings of the system was also determined in terms of productivity gains. An incremental cost analysis for Chest X-rays, CT Brain scans with and without contrast, MRI Brain scans with and without contrast was performed. The overall incremental cost between a PACS site and a conventional radiography site was determined in the study. The net present value technique was also determined to evaluate the capital budgeting requirements for both systems. The incremental costs for capital, RIS and image production for the PACS as well as the conventional system were performed. The incremental costs for both capital and RIS show an increase. In contrast, the incremental PACS image cost shows a reduction. This study provides a number of South African Radiology Departments which plan to introduce PACS in the near future with a bench mark for the financial implications incurred during the implementation phase. It assists other facilities in deciding on implementing PACS and contributes to the development of methodologies within the South African context.