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AccuSoft aims to make DICOM easy by selling developer's toolkit to OEMs


AccuSoft aims to make DICOM easy by selling developer's toolkit to OEMsCompany's SDK line comes with image-support guarantee The ratification of the DICOM 3.0 standard was intended to avoid a Tower of Babel in radiology by giving

AccuSoft aims to make DICOM easy by selling developer's toolkit to OEMs

Company's SDK line comes with image-support guarantee

The ratification of the DICOM 3.0 standard was intended to avoid a Tower of Babel in radiology by giving imaging devices and software from different manufacturers a common language to speak when transferring images and information. But DICOM's establishment created new problems for medical imaging companies, particularly the labor-intensive job of writing a software code to bring each company's devices and software into conformance with DICOM.

Enter AccuSoft, a Westborough, MA, company that sees a profitable niche in the growing acceptance of the DICOM standard. AccuSoft has developed a toolkit that enables medical imaging companies to add DICOM conformance to their products in a fraction of the time that it would take to write software code from scratch, according to the company.

AccuSoft was founded in 1985, and since then has sold software developer's toolkits to the general imaging market. The firm has targeted several vertical-market imaging segments, including the banking, photo, and Internet industries. The company for the most part restricts its sales to OEMs rather than end users, according to Larry Drinkwater, director of marketing. The firm is privately held and generates between $4 million and $6 million in annual revenues.

Several years ago, AccuSoft began receiving inquiries from physicians and vendors in the medical imaging market who believed that the firm's technology could be applied to radiology to help vendors and users conform to the DICOM standard. Based on this feedback, AccuSoft developed a product targeted at radiology, and began selling a suite of medical imaging-related products about a year ago, according to Scott Warner, president and CEO of AccuSoft.

"Our target is anyone who wants DICOM technology in their software system or hardware device," Warner said. "We provide a flexible building block that gives users easy access to DICOM technology with little work."

AccuSoft's medical imaging suite comes in two parts, DICOM Communications SDK (software developer's kit) and Medical Imaging SDK. DICOM Communications SDK helps developers write software code to enable medical imaging devices and software to accept DICOM data from other devices, while Medical Imaging SDK deals with interpreting DICOM data once they get into the device. AccuSoft has also developed a new offering that supports the Internet: DICOM Netscape Plug-In, which allows users to view DICOM files online.

Both toolkits are written primarily in C, which AccuSoft believes makes its code highly portable between operating system platforms. The company's toolkits are available for Windows, Unix, and Macintosh platforms. AccuSoft also places a high priority on the speed of software written with the SDK toolkits.

"Our goal is always to be the fastest," Warner said. "In imaging, that means that any algorithm that is designed to work on an image is constantly optimized to be as fast as possible."

AccuSoft also offers a unique guarantee: Software written with its toolkits will be able to read any valid DICOM 3.0 image file. If the software cannot read the image, users can send the image to AccuSoft, and the company's engineers will develop a patch to enable the software to support that image, and provide it to the customer free of charge. AccuSoft then incorporates that patch into the next versions of its toolkits, ensuring that the company's software remains current with the state-of-the-art in radiology.

For the most part, AccuSoft executives have been impressed with the integrity and stability of the DICOM standard. In other industries, standards often get undermined by companies that want to pull the standard in their direction. This hasn't happened in medical imaging-at least not so far, according to Warner.

"The (specifications) are clean, in that they haven't gone through a lot of changes," he said. "There are lots of proposed changes, but in other industries, we find that proposed changes get adopted by the industry before the standard's body gets to anoint them. I don't see that happening in this industry."

In the future, AccuSoft will continue to upgrade its toolkit technology, and will also move closer to the end-user market. A new product targeted at end users may be forthcoming, but AccuSoft executives declined to provide details.

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