3M dumps RStar for open Cemax PACS platform

May 18, 1994

Staff tumult continues at MGH subsidiary3M Medical Imaging Systems this month closed the book on its OEMrelationship with Massachusetts General Hospital subsidiary RStar.3M announced this month that it will no longer offer the RStarsystem and

Staff tumult continues at MGH subsidiary

3M Medical Imaging Systems this month closed the book on its OEMrelationship with Massachusetts General Hospital subsidiary RStar.3M announced this month that it will no longer offer the RStarsystem and will convert existing RStar sites to systems providedby Cemax, 3M's new PACS partner.

3M of St. Paul, MN, signed on with RStar in 1992 and investedconsiderable effort in integrating the RStar line with its products(SCAN 12/16/92). The RStar offering is a proprietary system basedon Macintosh Quadra workstationsand is intended to link radiologistswith other hospital departments.

RStar experienced an executive housecleaning the year afterthe OEM deal was inked. Four executives were removed, includingJames Taaffe, who developed much of RStar's hardware and software.

Despite the changes, 3M rolled out the RStar line at last year'sRadiological Society of North America meeting as 3M PACS for ICU/CCU/ER.At the same time, however, 3M went hunting for additional PACSpartners. It found one in Cemax, a Fremont, CA-based firm developinga line of open, distributed Sun-based workstations and relatedPACS products. The two companies cemented an OEM agreement inFebruary (SCAN 3/2/94).

The 3M/Cemax deal raised doubts about RStar's position. Thismonth 3M let the other shoe drop and announced that it would nolonger offer the RStar product. 3M added that it would provideall users of RStar-based PACS with the option to convert to aCemax-based system.

A major factor in the switch to Cemax was the vendor's openplatform, according to Jim Wales, 3M's business development managerfor PACS.

"We changed from RStar because we were driven by marketforces," Wales said. "The thing that became evidentis that hospitals want something that is not closed, that is notproprietary architecture. There was a need to go with a low-cost,expandable, open product line."

Rewriting the RStar software to make the system open wouldhave taken too long, so 3M decided to find a new partner, Walessaid. 3M has recorded about five to six sales of the Cemax product,which will be marketed as 3M Image Management System. 3M is indiscussions with Image Data to expand the product line into teleradiology,Wales said.

3M's move is yet another sign of the growing importance ofopen systems architecture as vendors move toward products thatare compatible with ACR-NEMA's digital communications standard(DICOM 3.0), according to Michael Cannavo, president of ImageManagement Consultants of Winter Park, FL.

"The whole goal of DICOM is to get everything into a moreopen architecture," Cannavo said. "Cemax's entire productline is structured around open systems. It shows a direction thata lot of major manufacturers are taking."

Meanwhile, RStar's future remains a question mark. The companyhas lost its primary OEM partner and executive tumult at the firmhas continued. Vincent Cucchiara, an MGH administrator assignedto replace Taaffe, is no longer with the company, according toan RStar spokesperson.