PACS replacement - Resources

We are shortly going to start the replacement of our current RIS and PACS with a different system. In others experience what sort of numbers of feet on the ground/bums on seats are required over what timescale? There will be about 18 years worth of images (30TB) and about 30 yrs of RIS data. I know the data transfer will just trundle along in the background, but what about the other tasks. data clean up/table set up/interface setup/testing/training etc
Any experiences welcome

Hi Paul, not had the joys of a PACS vendor switch, but have some experience on the RIS side. Table set up should hopefully be done by the new vendor, they should be in contact with the old vendor so they can perform any relevant translations and build your new environment. It should then require deployment, followed by testing and training.
In terms of time scales, I think that depends on how many Super Users you wish to have included in initial training and testing. I would say testing should be undertaken in conjunction with your new vendor and I would probably calculate the time needed based upon your usual tasks within the system.
For the training, you would need to decide if all users are to be trained by Apps from the vendor or if there will be cascade training from Super Users.
Figuring this out will allow you to have some time scales that work best for your situation and work environment.

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Hi Paul, our switch in 2013 took about 2 years. NHS supply chain stated recently that “depending on your preparedness, it can be done in 12 months”.
Data transfer was fairly straight forward for us (10TB at the time) but we had “clean data”, i.o.w. our PACS team had been doing its cleaning and sweeping over the years.
Our supplier offered a “train the trainer” approach which did work ok. It wasn’t like 2007 where we all started to use PACS/RIS for the 1st time.
We did not change our RIS in 2013 (sadly) so can’t help you with that but what I’ve heard is echoed by Mike Pipers comments. Getting your department used to a new RIS will probably require most of the training resources.
I still have all the OBS documents, project plans and can share if you need any.

Hi Paul,

Standard DICOM migrations take the longest time- in our most recent migration from one VNA to the other, the migration supplier did a file migration out of the file stores, along with an extract of the VNA DB (although the PACS migration would be similar). This cut the migration of 140TB down to about 3 months.

There are better ways to migrate the data than the old fashioned DICOM migration.

Frank is right in that you will need to do your data cleansing before the migration however, we managed ours on EXCEL sheets and the data was transformed on the way from one device to the other in conjunction with the DB.

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Hi Paul, we replaced the PACS over 6 years ago and just performed a hardware refresh. The Trust were happy with the current supplier. We are currently looking to centralise all the image data in one place. This is causing a few problems as there are a few hoops the supplier has to step through to enable this.
Please DM me if you want some docs. From that experience. Biggest issue is the data migration. As has been said before this can’t be rushed but pre preparation is key. Get the data as ‘clean’ as possible. It takes longer than you think!!! is my NHS email.

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Hi Simon,

We are about to begin our data cleansing prior to migration and I’d be keen to understand the process you went through with your data cleansing, i.e., steps you took, main efforts, and lessons learned. Is this something that you would be happy to share?

Yes, of course.

Drop me an email and I can arrange a session with you to go through it.



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I would be interested to hear about this, if you do have some general points. Estimating the time and complexity of any migration would be very useful, if anyone has any rules of thumb.

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Let’s get it in the textbook Simon! Make a nice piece in the ‘Preparing for Migrations’ section :slight_smile:


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Hi Simon,

I’ve just sent you a connection request on LinkedIn. My work email is:


Was an overview of the process produced in the end? Our Trust is now asking about the duration of data migration.

As a contractor working as a PM I have carried out data migrations many times and each one is different. It always has issues and it is important that the key team members are engaged. Don’t underestimate this time it takes but there are a number of things that can be carried out before starting.

“Longer Than Anyone Expects” is the traditional doctrine on migrations…!

Not an straight forward thing to narrow down then.

But it would be useful to have some figures against the size of the PACS data moved from other experiences. Is the bottle neck the speed of data transfer or more the cleaning process afterwards?

Our experience: "in 2013 we transferred 12TB from supplier G who sold us an expensive box but then didn’t give us access to it. Supplier F took about 4 month to migrate the 12TB, but a lot of that was due to poor planning (weeks were lost to the engineer based in Spain being on leave) . Our data was relatively clean thanks to an excellent PACS team. All in all the process started in May was still running in September, a week after go live. So yes, it took longer than expected.

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Migration is always a big unknown. I think it’s something that is definitely worth planning for in advance (ideally at the point of adopting a new system).

“Our data was relatively clean thanks to an excellent PACS team.”
Do you have any tips, short- or long-term, to try to stop migration getting too hard over time?

Benchmarks for typical RIS and PACS migrations would be really useful, if anyone has them

Has anyone had any blockers that they wish they’d been pre-warned about that could have been mitigated (e.g. contractually)? I’ve heard that keeping access to the underlying equipment (and hence your own data) can reduce some of the risk.

Your new supplier should be able to provide guidance regarding how long your migration will take. Then add some.

We are currently nearing the end of our migration. There are lots of variables - I’ve included just a couple of practical things for you to consider:-

Ideally, all of your data will eventually be migrated across, but what is the minimum amount that your Trust needs access to in order to go live?
That may depend on what type of Trust you are e.g. We are a cancer hospital, so our doctors required access to more historical data than a standard DGH.

Can you users manually retrieve unmigrated data on the fly once you are live?
Who can do that?
How long does it take?
If the ad-hoc retrieval is a quick process, you may be able to go live with a minimum amount of migrated data. If it takes too long, you’ll need to insist on having a larger amount of historical data in order to mitigate the associated risks for patient care as well as the Pacs managers sanity :slight_smile:

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