Picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) provide image viewing at diagnostic, reporting, consultation, and remote workstations; archival on magnetic or optical media by means of short- or long-term storage devices; communications by means of local or wide area networks or public communication services; and integrated systems with modality interfaces and gateways to health care facilities and departmental information systems. Research indicates three basic needs for image and report management: (a) improved communication and turnaround time between radiologists and other imaging specialists and referring physicians, (b) fast reliable access to both current and previously obtained images and reports, and (c) space-efficient archival support. Although PACS considerations are much more complex than those associated with single modalities, the same basic purchase criteria apply. These criteria include technical leadership, image quality, throughput, life cost (eg, initial cost, maintenance, upgrades, and depreciation), and total service. Because a PACS takes much longer to implement than a single modality, the customer and manufacturer must develop a closer working relationship than has been necessary in the past.