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ALI inks deal with IBM to develop large-scale archive


ALI inks deal with IBM to develop large-scale archiveAlliance may presage ALI's expansion from ultrasoundUltrasound miniPACS developer ALI Technologies and IBM Canada have announced a new initiative to develop an automated enterprise-wide

ALI inks deal with IBM to develop large-scale archive

Alliance may presage ALI's expansion from ultrasound

Ultrasound miniPACS developer ALI Technologies and IBM Canada have announced a new initiative to develop an automated enterprise-wide image archive server designed to provide long-term image storage and management for a metropolitan area or regional hospital network. The project will be supported by a $336,000 grant from the nonprofit Canadian Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry, and Education (CANARIE).

ALI brings its medical archiving knowledge and DICOM experience to the partnership, while IBM will provide network management and the necessary network switching gear. As part of the 18-month project, ALI will be porting its UltraPACS archive server to a Windows NT platform and will be integrating its DICOM tools into IBM's digital archive system.

The regional-scale server will incorporate high-speed communication methods such as asynchronous transfer mode (ATM). The two companies will also be collaborating with several hospitals in the Vancouver area, including British Columbia Women's Hospital, Children's Hospital, Vancouver Hospital, and the University of British Columbia (UBC). The UBC MAGIC Lab and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, will also contribute to the project.

The agreement may mean that ALI is eyeing the market for multimodality archiving, which would be a change from its ultrasound-based strategy. While ultrasound remains ALI's core business, UltraPACS can support all modalities, said CEO Greg Peet.

"I expect the market to evolve and ALI to evolve," he said. "We just haven't made a commitment yet to exactly how that will work out."

In terms of company operations, the integration of ALI's product line into that of GE Medical Systems is proceeding as planned, Peet said. GE acquired a 20% stake in ALI in May.

"We had at the outset a patient view about how long one should expect things to take to start to integrate and it's happening just as it should," Peet said.

The two companies are working on some new product initiatives that are in the definition and commitment stage. No changes in ALI's operations have been made since the agreement, Peet said.

After GE acquired the position in ALI, there was some industry speculation that ALI's OEM relationship with Siemens Medical Systems might be affected. That has not been the case, however, Peet said.

"There was a transitionary phase to go through to make everyone comfortable, but the relationship is still strong and successful," he said.

In other ALI news, the Richmond, BC-based company has begun shipping version 3.0 of its UltraPACS software. The upgrade will be free of charge to all customers under warranty or full software contract, according to the company. Over 70 sites will be upgraded to UltraPACS 3.0 by the end of the year.

The Mayo Clinic has also selected ALI to be its ultrasound miniPACS provider. Under the agreement announced in July, ALI will link 29 ultrasound scanners at four separate sites at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. The vendor will also link six ultrasound scanners in two separate sites at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL, according to the company.

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