I installed Osirix , a free (Open Source) imaging workstation program, on a stand-alone iMac at our local private hospital almost two years ago (described here), and it has been used very successfully for reading CT and MRI exams loaded from CDs.
The iMac cost about £2000. (You can check current prices at www.apple.com) . A proprietary workstation would have cost 10 times that amount, at least. Also, each time there is a software update, the upgrade is free, and there has been fantastic free support from the online community of users and developers. Much better than from some commercial products I have used.
At Chesapeake Medical Imaging, they used Macs and Open Source software, including Osirix, to view and archive images from at least half a dozen CT and MRI scanners (Siemens, Toshiba, and Philips), in four clinics, doing 80 multi-scan patient studies every day, (about 3GB of data per day and a terabyte per year), and solved a quarter-million-dollar problem for about $12,000.
What's missing from the the Open-Source Osirix PACS solution is integration with the Radiology Information System (RIS), so it's not quite ready for big public hospitals, but it does seem like an excellent idea for smaller private facilities.
I suspect that one of the stumbling blocks may be that in many organisations, IT departments lack the ability, skills or inclination to do anything not covered by the Microsoft service manuals, while corporate management do not know any better and do not challenge the IT guys. It's a pity, because there are enormous potential benefits in cost savings and quality of care.
By the way, there's an online tutorial on how to use Osirix. I've not had to use it but you can check it out here.
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