In 2021, almost every radiology residency in the country operates with a Picture Archiving And Communication System (PACS). It has become essential for the daily functioning of the radiologist and the radiology resident. Even though PACS has made our practices more efficient, we all experience a breakdown at some point. Maybe it’s information overload, an electrical surge, or an internet/cloud outage that causes the problem. Regardless, it will happen at one time or another. Sometimes, it may take a few minutes or hours for the system to come back up. During this time, people usually mull about and complain about the PACS being down. It becomes a handicap. Instead, what if we did something useful with our time? So, I thought I would write an article about the top 10 most valuable things to do when the PACS goes down. Let’s begin!
1. Call Up IT To Fix The PACS
Over the years, I have noticed when the PACS goes down: everyone assumes that someone knows about it and will take care of it. Sometimes that is the case. Other times, no! It never hurts to give IT a call to find out what is going on to make sure they get started fixing the issue. Furthermore, they may be able to tell you a timeframe for when they can complete the repairs. Then, you can have an idea about what you can accomplish during this downtime!
What is a better time to network than when everyone has time? Now that the PACS is down, people can talk to you and listen!! This period can be a time to speak to your favorite faculty, technologist, nurse, residency coordinator, or janitor. And, no, it is not a waste of time. It brings goodwill to the entire establishment. In addition, getting to know your fellow employees gives excellent morale to the department. Who knows? The janitor may come to your department to clean up first because he likes you!!!
3. Study For The Boards
While at work, you should not waste a minute. One great way to occupy your time: get cracking on those books that you need to read. Start reading a chapter on what you would be doing if the PACS system were working. Or, maybe go over something that you don’t know. Regardless, this is a freebie. Now you will have less time to read when you get home!!!
4. Talk To Your Referrers Instead Of Staring At A Dead PACS
Maybe you have a burning question you need to ask one of your referring clinicians regarding a finding on a film and what that means for one of your patients. Or perhaps, you need to forward a message about a result. Well, now you have some time to do it. Don’t just sit there and complain about the PACS. Pick up the phone!
5. Arrange Elective Time
Perhaps, you are a 3rd resident and are pondering what you want to do for the following year’s mini-fellowships or electives. Now you have a real opportunity to plan something. Take a walk to your area of interest- perhaps neurosurgery, orthopedics, or pediatrics, and prepare a rotation for the following year. It will add an incredible experience to your training. What better time to do that than the present!
6. Observe Department Processes
The PACS system is down, but that doesn’t mean all patients stop arriving in the department. This time is an excellent opportunity to watch the technologist, secretary, or nurse in action. Learn how they take histories, process the patients, and what they do daily. It never hurts to learn about the processes within your radiology department. You never know when some of these skills will come in handy when you are a radiologist who owns an imaging center!
7. Research Projects
Downtime is a perfect opportunity to process the data on your iPad or research some articles for the following paper you will write. Edit your article. Less time needs you will need to spend in the department or your house on this work!
You’ve been slouching on your chair all day until the PACS system went down. What better time than now to prevent a DVT and burn some calories! Climb those stairs. Walk around the grounds. Now is your time to get into shape!
9. Grab Your Lunch
Maybe the PACS went down around lunchtime. This respite is a perfect opportunity to get the lunch that you would have interfered with your day otherwise. Now, this PACS downtime no longer wastes your time!
10. Forget The PACS. Go To Radsresident.com!
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Now that you know what to do when the PACS system goes down, you will no longer whine and complain. Instead, look forward to this inevitable period. This extra time is a blessing in disguise!!!