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Picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) administrators work in the field of medical imaging. The job duties of a PACS administrator can vary widely, depending on the size, scope and budget of the medical facility. For the most part, the position requires the maintenance, management and troubleshooting of a PACS system. A PACS administrator also manages and implements the storage of all digital images received.
Historically, PACS administrators were primarily technical support people who spent most of their time troubleshooting system issues. Over time, the profession has taken on new dimensions, and many PACS administrators are now expected to be able to strategize and plan as well as provide technical assistance. Most positions in the field change dramatically as the needs and resources of a medical facility change.
As medical imaging systems become more complex, many PACS administrators have started to devote more time to related needs such as end-user training. In the interest of making new systems more accessible for staff members, they might also help to design programs to improve the design and administration of the system. A PACS administrator can serve as a focal point for the continuing development and improvement of a system throughout a medical facility. In some cases, the PACS administrator spends so much time on development and design that a PACS coordinator handles the daily maintenance of the system.
A PACS administrator can also manage all updates to a system. This often includes managing vendor relationships related to the expansion and maintenance of technology. In smaller facilities, a vendor might offer a contract PACS administrator for a limited period of time in order to support the implementation of a new PACS system and train the staff on its use. Often, a facility staff member will take over PACS administration duties from the contractor after the system has been put in place and all staff members have been trained.
The requirements for PACS administrator positions vary widely, so most medical facilities struggle to find a technician who is ideally suited to the needs of the organization. The profession requires strong knowledge of radiology and solid IT skills, but the balance required between those areas varies widely, depending on the facility. Some facilities have solved this problem by hiring two professionals with complementary skills to handle PACS administration. In that case, there usually is a lead PACS administrator and a backup who can cover for the lead if necessary.