Agfa plans for coming demise of best-of-breed IT products

March 12, 2007

When the best-of-breed information systems that now facilitate the practice of medicine have outlived their usefulness, Agfa Healthcare will be ready with the next generation of IT, if the president of Agfa Healthcare has his way.

When the best-of-breed information systems that now facilitate the practice of medicine have outlived their usefulness, Agfa Healthcare will be ready with the next generation of IT, if the president of Agfa Healthcare has his way.

Philippe Houssiau has implemented at Agfa a two-pronged strategy for getting diverse medical information to decision makers. The strategy is designed to win customers over both near and long term, while reducing costs and improving the quality of patient care.

"The convergence of data at critical points in the decision-making process will make the difference in improving the management of patients," Houssiau told Diagnostic Imaging at the European Congress of Radiology in Vienna. "It can have a dramatic impact."

The first prong is to develop systems that bring data from legacy systems into Agfa IT products oriented toward specific disciplines. Agfa is applying connectivity technologies developed over the course of the last decade to bring data from pathology and pharmacy to radiologists. Windows that open on the company's Impax PACS from these two outside departments support and promote the diagnostic process.

The second is aimed at meeting long-term goals. The company plans to develop a truly integrated IT system on Agfa's Orbis platform that, when fully implemented, will bring into one data repository all the medical information about every patient in a region, country, or even several countries.

Both prongs of this strategy are necessary, according to Houssiau. The first is aimed to reduce healthcare costs and improve patient care in the near term; the second to expand and weave these measures into the fabric of medical practice.

"The only way to achieve this is to fully integrate the solution that marries the clinical and administrative workflow," he said. "It is marrying the activities that yields the highest productivity gains."

Agfa, which has traditionally emphasized its ability to integrate with the products provided by other IT vendors, considers it necessary to continue to offer this ability in today's marketplace, Houssiau said. Interim solutions, such as Agfa's Windows-based system for retrieving and presenting information from outside radiology, are a necessary stepping-stone to this future. This capability was showcased at the ECR.

Houssiau hopes that Agfa, by making installed systems work better today, will demonstrate its ability to manage information across a sprawling network, putting the company in a position to expand further, when the time comes to replace legacy systems.

Editor's note: Agfa is the sponsor of Diagnostic Imaging's 2007 ECR Webcast.