Agfa software brings clinical data to radiology

February 27, 2007

Agfa Healthcare cut through barriers erected by pathology and pharmacy, bringing patient data to the PACS desktop with a software module unveiled at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference.

Agfa Healthcare cut through barriers erected by pathology and pharmacy, bringing patient data to the PACS desktop with a software module unveiled at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference.

Lab and biopsy results as well as allergy warnings will pop up in a separate window on the Impax RIS/PACS outfitted with the company's now commercially available Clinical Module.

"We see this as a natural extension of PACS and very radiology-specific," said Lenny J. Reznik, director of enterprise imaging and information at Agfa. "We are talking about the true marriage - or digital convergence - of images and patient information."

Unlike some approaches that reach out to other "ologies" with add-on modules or try to provide a conduit that channels disparate information across the enterprise, Agfa's latest IT gambit brings relevant data to the radiologist, flagging any that are abnormal or may require special attention.

When setting up a protocol, the radiologist and patient could benefit,for example, from lab results indicating impaired kidney function, a contraindication for certain contrast agents, or pharmacy data noting prescribed drugs that may interact adversely with such agents, according to Reznik. On the diagnostic side, biopsy results or white blood cell count may assist in forming a final diagnosis.

Abnormal results or ones bearing special significance are defined in consultation between the institution and the Agfa engineers who install the module.

"We flash these results in a different color so the radiologist is aware of this abnormal parameter," Reznik said.

This information, shown in a special on-screen window, can affect the protocol chosen or the diagnosis made. Preliminary tests with a prototype of the software indicate that time savings may result. Several minutes per study might be saved, he said, as radiologists have readily available information they would otherwise have to search out.

These data are available in real-time from multiple information systems outside of radiology using a single log-on built into the PACS. Agfa has developed customized or generic interfaces using standards such as HL7 to connect Impax with every major clinical system on the market today, according to Reznik.

"The key thing is that we are talking about enhancing our customers' current systems," he said.

Agfa has put together an economic model that demonstrates cost and labor savings to be achieved through the use of its new Clinical Module. The company will promote this model in lieu of a standard fee or cost for upgrading Impax sites, as the actual cost of doing so will depend on the information systems installed and the customization needed at each institution. Reznik did, however, provide some context for the upgrade cost.

"It will be a very small percentage of the overall cost of the PACS," he said.