With the increasing consolidation of hospitals and healthcare organizations and the growing dominance of integrated delivery networks, systems integration has become a provocative market niche for PACS providers. Network integration is at the
With the increasing consolidation of hospitals and healthcare organizations and the growing dominance of integrated delivery networks, systems integration has become a provocative market niche for PACS providers. Network integration is at the core of a number of strategic initiatives launched by vendors large and small in the latter part of 2000.
Regional medical equipment provider Cassling Diagnostic Imaging used November's RSNA meeting to formally launch a new subsidiary established to provide systems integration for PACS customers. Artesian Medical incorporates CDI's existing networking integration business, which has logged more than 300 PACS installations.
"Cassling has been involved in the image management piece of this business for about six years," said Gary Sunsten, formerly vice president of CDI and now president of Artesian. "But CDI is a regional entity and has been operating primarily as a distributor, which didn't fit our model as a nationwide network integration business."
Artesian's strategy is to enable hospitals to achieve integration by offering flexible, scalable, open systems that bypass the issue of product obsolescence, according to Sunsten. Part of this approach involves using existing hospital equipment and workstations to connect to the PACS and to accommodate new equipment as a facility expands.
"Most PACS (installations) do not focus on workflow and integration problems," Sunsten said. "We go to the customer and do a lot of work upfront on workflow issues. That's why Artesian was formed: to address specific needs and assist the customer through the entire process of going from analog to digital."
With this goal in mind, Artesian is making application service providers (ASPs) a key component of its network integration strategy. The company formed a strategic relationship with InPhact last June to be able to offer its customers an ASP-based PACS. Through this partnership, Artesian installs all of the front-end equipment, including image capture, viewing, and redundant array of inexpensive disks (RAID), and then links with InPhact's RadWeb product for Web-based RIS, off-site storage, and distribution.
"For traditional PACS solutions, we do it all ourselves," Sunsten said. "If a customer wants an ASP, we partner with InPhact for storage and image and report distribution. We see this as a way to provide a fully integrated PACS on an ASP model."
InPhact joins a growing list of Artesian strategic relationships. Vendor partners include Applicare, Merge, Barco, Cisco, Fuji, FileLink, Dome, Rorke, Vidar, and Voxar; regional channel distribution partners include Delta, Radon, CMS, and Freedom Imaging. The company is also in discussions with some information systems vendors, although Sunsten points out that it already has the ability to integrate with any HIS or RIS.
Artesian is also involved in some original product development, primarily through a partnership with MedQ, a small software development firm in Dallas. MedQ was instrumental in developing Artesian's bidirectional HIS/RIS interface and its continuous voice recognition package, QSpeak, which is based on IBM's MedSpeak technology. Artesian is also working with MedQ to develop a voice command package for PACS.
Artesian is headquartered in Dallas, with service and support provided from CDI's hub in Omaha. The Omaha facility also houses a 24-hour call center and newly established integration lab for design and testing of each customer site prior to installation. Imaging industry veteran Dan Trott is serving as Artesian's vice president of sales and marketing.