Organization news

Vendor Neutral PACS Administrator training

Friday, September 29, 2017

Reprinted from OTech blog by permission

A red light on my dashboard suddenly came on saying “no charging.” The battery indicator showed still at least 12 Volts, so I chose to continue my errand and take care of it when I got back home. That was a mistake, which I found out when my car stalled at a red light in a busy intersection. I should have turned around right away and/or gone to a garage to take care of my alternator which was broken. This event caused me to think that all of us are taught to drive a car before getting a license, but we aren’t taught basic troubleshooting of issues that might occur, hence these kinds of events could happen to anyone.

The same can be said of training as a PACS administrator. Similar to when a car salesman explains where to find the blinker and light switch, and possibly even how to set the clock on your car, there is little vendor training about how a PACS functions, what can go wrong, and how to interpret the “error messages.”

The good news is that cars have gotten pretty reliable, you don’t need to be a part-time mechanic anymore to be able to operate them. The bad news is that is not the case with supporting a PACS system. These are complex software applications, which definitely can have bugs, and are subject to many user errors and/or integration issues, which can cause images and related information to be unavailable or incorrectly presented to a physician.

Even though one is trained on a PACS system from a specific vendor of a particular release, it does not mean that you are taught the fundamentals. For example, what happens if the PACS rejects an image because it has a duplicate Accession Number, Study Number, Series UID, or SOP Instance UID?

Vendor-specific training does not cover what could have been the cause and how to fix it? Nor does it cover a “DICOM error,” or how to interpret the log files, or what to do if a modality does not display a worklist. What if images are randomly “dropped” when sending from a modality to the PACS? The easy answer is: call the vendor, but what if there is finger-pointing going on between the modality, RIS or PACS vendor, or what if the vendor is not going to be on-site for another 4 hours and your PACS is refusing to display any images?

I can go on-and-on listing many reasons and situations that are not covered by a vendor-specific PACS training program; but that is what you are taught by Vendor Neutral PACS Administrator (VNPA) training. That is why many PACS administrators search for “neutral” training providers that do teach the fundamentals.

The generic or neutral training is also a great track for healthcare imaging professionals who would like to get into this field, or want to cross over from a related career such as healthcare IT or clinical specialties such as radiological technologists.

The PACS fundamentals training covers subjects such as DICOM and HL7 basics and troubleshooting, and also covers new developments such as Vendor Neutral Archives (VNA), how to implement enterprise image archiving, what to look for when you get the new breast tomosynthesis modality or IV-OCT in cardiology, and the characteristics of the new encounter-based specialties such as surgery, endoscopy and in the future digital pathology.

As an additional bonus, you can even consider getting certified as a PACS administrator, where you might consider the basic, advanced and DICOM certifications.
So, even though you might have had the vendor-specific PACS administrator training, you might want to consider the Vendor Neutral PACS administrator training as well, to teach you the fundamentals which will empower you to be a mediator between vendors who are finger-pointing each other and blaming “the other” as the culprit, and to be able to perform basic trouble-shooting yourself without having to wait for your vendor to show up, and to be prepared for new developments in PACS and modality technology.

PARCA adds new DICOM certification

APRIL 1, 2017 – The PACS Administrators Registry and Certification Association (PARCA) announced today that it is adding a certification and certification exams for DICOM, the international standard for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine. The new certification will replace the Certified PACS Interface Analyst (CPIA) certification. 

Since the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) first introduced the DICOM standard in 1985, it has grown both in acceptance and complexity with the adoption of a number of changes and the development of DICOM extensions. As a result Charles Willis, PhD, DABR, president of PARCA says it is time to add a certification that more specifically focuses on DICOM.

“DICOM, the international standard for digital imaging communications in medicine was established by the DICOM committee, an International Standards Organization (ISO). It is really the foundation for understanding how all the parts of a PACS system work together,” Willis says. “You could be very well-educated in computer science or knowledgeable about information technology, but unless you know DICOM, you don’t know how the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) standard is implemented in imaging informatics.”

The new DICOM certification and the exams supporting it have been updated to cover the breadth and depth of the DICOM standard including the latest extension, DICOMweb. These exams will continue to be updated every three years. Taking the updated exams every three years will replace previous requirements for members to submit 60 hours of continuing education and to re-take the exam every 5 years to maintain certification.

The new certification also is acknowledgement of the evolution of image archiving and communications within medical institutions and the adoption of the standard by professionals outside of radiology who are being drawn together to implement EMRs and enterprise wide vendor neutral archives, according to PARCA founder Herman Oosterwijk.

“The are a number of people who are not in radiology, who all know what DICOM is, but there are a lot of new applications that are starting to use DICOM, all the ‘ologies,’ ophthalmology, cardiology, dermatology. In addition there is a lot of excitement around DICOMweb that will be essential for archiving and sharing visible light medical imaging among medical professionals that need to be a part of the PACS or IT administrator’s toolkit,” Oosterwijk says.

“It will be good for these people to acquire the necessary knowledge in an organized and methodical manner to ensure the integrity of the standard as it is implemented in all these new settings. Consequently we felt there is a need for this certification focusing on DICOM so that people will know how to study it and learn about it,” he adds.

The new certification along with the study guide for the exam became available on April 15, 2017 and the new certification course is available online through Examity, which provides virtual monitoring testing administered by Examity, thus eliminating having to travel for the exam.

Those who previously earned the CPIA certification will have an opportunity to update their knowledge and earn the DICOM certification at a discount.

“The DICOM Certification would be worthwhile for anyone wanting to demonstrate external acknowledgement of achievement of a level of proficiency in the DICOM standard,” says Willis. “These might include PACS analysts, healthcare informatics software developers, medical device integration engineers, medical device service engineers, radiologic technologists, or medical physicists.”

PARCA announces Examity partnership

We are pleased to announce a partnership with Examity, a recognized leader in remote test proctoring. This relationship offers you a secure and convenient way to take your certification exams online, while ensuring the integrity of the certification.

Examity is integrated with Moodle.  You can access Examity directly from our testing software, Moodle, without the hassle of another username and password.  It also means that before you use Examity for the first time, all pertinent information will be imported into the system for you, including the certification exam you purchased.

Examity offers exam proctoring 24/7.  Examity gives you the flexibility to schedule certification exams at your convenience and take them wherever and whenever you want.  The technical requirements for the computer you will use to take your exam are:
  1. A computer with a built in webcam and microphone (built in or external).  You can check this at
  2. A network connection with internet speed of at least 3 Mbps for both uploading and downloading. You can check this at
  3. Web browser with pop-up blocker disabled.
Examity will be available for you to use beginning on August 13, 2014. We will provide you with the tools you need to get familiar with the service:
  • Quick-Start User Guide (Week of, August 11th)
  • 24/7 Technical Support at 1-855-Examity or

We know this service will make your certification experience even better, and we are very excited to roll it out to you!

PARCA updates exams, streamlines maintaining certifications

April 15, 2014 – The PACS Administrators Registry and Certification Association (PARCA) announced today that it is updating its certification exams. With the updates in exams, the organization is also streamlining the continuing education requirements for maintaining certification.

The new exam requirements will be posted on the PARCA website by May 1, 2014 and the new exams will go into effect Aug. 1, 2014. To reflect updates, the certifications will now add the update year to the certification. Those certifications will now be CPAS2104, CPSA2014, and CPIA2014. 

The certification exams being updated include CPAS (Certified PACS Associate), CPSA (Certified PACS System Analyst), and CPIA (Certified PACS Interface Analyst). These exams will continue to be updated every three years.  Taking the updated exams every three years will replace previous requirements for members to submit 60 hours of continuing education and to re-take the exam every 5 years to maintain certification.

The organization of professionals who manage image archiving and communications systems for medical centers, hospitals and other health care organizations said the updates address changes in technology that have occurred since 2005 when the exams were first written.

“The concept of lifelong learning is well-recognized in medical and technical professions,” says PARCA Board President Charles Willis, Ph.D., DABR. “To date, reporting of continuing education by PARCA members has been extremely limited. At the same time, the technology that supports healthcare informatics has changed by leaps and bounds. These changes demand that PARCA revises and updates the technical requirements for certification and modify our testing to reflect these new requirements.”

PARCA now has a facebook page

PARCA wants to build a better community for PACS administrators. As part of that goal, it has started a facebook page where PARCA members can keep up-to-date with each other, as well as share the issues and challenges we all face with each other. It is our hope that PARCA members will use the page to connect and share opinions, tips, troubleshooting tricks, solutions and more. Let us know what you are doing at your organization. Post an update

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