An RFP (Request for Proposal) is a document that invites vendors to submit competing proposals to provide a product or service to the requesting party. For organizations seeking to purchase a PACS, use of a well-defined and detailed RFP critical.

An RFP, once developed, should be submitted to several PACS vendors. When the US Department of Defense issued a RFP for a PACS system for their healthcare institutions, the RFP was a 500 page + document that was the work of several people working for many months. One might think that this is a lot of government bureaucracy to work and this might have been an oversight, however, long and detailed RFPs are a necessary evil when shopping for a PACS.

A key element in an RFP is the definition of what the customer requirements. Focusing on requirements rather than specific system details makes it easier for vendors to generate an appropriate response.

Key components of an RFP are:

– A mission statement and a clear set of objectives
– Set quantitative and qualitative goals
– Use a different line item for each criteria
– List the hospital characteristics
– Define clinical scenarios
– Identify expected timeline and phasing-in for the system implementation
– Define how the system might expand
– Specify component requirements
– Specify Information System to be integrated
– Modalities to be integrated
– Communication Standard requirements
– Performance
– Compression
– Fault tolerance
– System integration
– Training requirements
– Service requirements
– Help desk availability
– Acceptance criteria
– Reference sites and site visits
– Evaluation criteria

A well-designed and requirements-driven RFP is the first step of a successful PACS implementation. The RFP serves as a roadmap that forms the basis of the implementation, acceptance and tracking the performance of the PACS. If an organization buys a PACS without establishing baselines or performing due diligence, they will very likely end up with a system that does not meet their expectations. In these scenarios, it is unfair to blame a vendor if the purchaser did not specify system performance requirements and performance up front.


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