Sunday, January 5, 2014

Medweb’s battle-tested PACS systems rely on PARCA certified engineers

Medweb CEO Peter
Killcommons, MD
There may be no more critical implementation of a PACS system than those deployed on the battlefield such as those used in the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars. Consequently, when Medweb dispatches engineers to the frontlines to install or support its field PACS systems they need to have the knowledge base to troubleshoot any problems on their own. For that reason Medweb’s CEO Dr. Pete Killcommons requires his engineers to be PARCA certified. To learn more about the critical role PARCA certification plays in this company’s success PARCA e-news spoke with Dr. Killcommons by phone. As a physician he understands the interdependence of medicine and IT in modern practice and founded Medweb 20 years ago to address the needs of soldiers and civilians in conflict and disaster zones using telemedicine. He remains the only CEO of a major telemedicine firm to personally travel throughout active conflict and disaster zones, gaining extensive firsthand knowledge of the transformative potential of telemedicine on the frontlines for soldiers and civilians alike. For his dedication, The American Telemedicine Association honored Dr. Killcommons with its Industry Council Award last May.

Q. Tell us a little about Medweb and the work you do?

A. Medweb has been around for 20 years. We have a field deployable PACS system. Our engineers travel to the war zones in support of the US military. Medweb scales all the way from laptop computers up to cloud based enterprise servers and storage for cross enterprise imaging and telemedicine for entire communities. In austere environments medweb's architecture serves community medics, mobile tent clinics, trauma and triage clinics, to field hospitals and fixed facilities. Medweb is both a classic RIS/PACS as well as a triage EMR and TELEMEDICINE solution in a single webserver. With many functions and available interfaces it is ideal to have a configuration expert familiar with DICOM, HLA7, and IHE because they are frequently operating in areas with limited connectivity. PARCA certification allows us to objectively qualify our staff capabilities.

Q. Why do you require your engineers to be PARCA certified?

A. To make sure our guys are up to snuff, we use the PARCA tests as a way to keep them up-to-date, and we require them to advance one level every year.
It is critical that our engineers are certified because we need to offer our customers a certain competency level for our engineers and the PARCA tests give us a way to guarantee that they have met or exceeded those competency levels. When they are in the field, they don’t necessarily have the ability to reach back and communicate with us, so we have to know for sure they can handle any situation they might encounter in support of our customer when deployed.

Q. What are the benefits of certification you see for these professionals in terms of education?

Well they get the additional education and certification that prepares them as they rotate out of our business, if they choose to pursue a career in continuing as a PACS administrator for a community hospital or in support of our other commercial customers. So they have the training they need to understand how to integrate the PACS system and various medical imaging devices into the hospital information systems, or nowadays we’re teaching them XDS so they can manage cross enterprise document sharing, not just intramural document management.

Q. Are the certification courses difficult and worth the effort?
Our engineers say they are well worth the effort and take pride in passing them and moving on to the next one.

Q. What do your engineers think about the requirement for PARCA certification?
They complained at first but now that they have passed the tests they take it as a source of pride and have repeatedly commented that it is extremely helpful for doing their jobs.

Q. What does your company do to facilitate taking and passing the tests?
We pay for everything. We purchase the training materials and pay for training course as well, and we fly everyone in to our training facility.

Q.  Do you consider PARCA certification as a competitive advantage?

I think it is really important because anyone can say they are a PACS administrator but you need to have some objective criteria to validate that they actually know the information required to perform the job. We sometimes find people will use buzzwords and sales marketing terms, but that doesn’t mean they actually understand how it functions. So PARCA certification helps us weed out the people in an objective fashion who don’t know their stuff or can’t provide the level of service that we require. So passing certification levels is a condition of continued employment.

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