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Codonics streamlines workflow with disc-burning robot

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The increasing interest of patients in their own healthcare, and the desire of practitioners to respond to that interest, has spurred Codonics to venture outside its typical wares of hard-copy printers. The company has developed Virtua, a network-based medical disc publisher, for recording and labeling diagnostic studies for distribution to patients and referring physicians. It might even serve as a basic centralized archiving solution.

The increasing interest of patients in their own healthcare, and the desire of practitioners to respond to that interest, has spurred Codonics to venture outside its typical wares of hard-copy printers. The company has developed Virtua, a network-based medical disc publisher, for recording and labeling diagnostic studies for distribution to patients and referring physicians. It might even serve as a basic centralized archiving solution.

The company will begin shipping the product in June. It lists for $17,995.

Other disc burners are available, but none like Virtua, noted Gary W. Keefe, director of software engineering at Codonics. The new product offers dual CD and DVD drives built into a desktop robot that records patient images and prints customized labels. A touchscreen is used to input commands and data.

"The number-one feature we bring to the market is a well-packaged solution," he said.

Virtua occupies two square feet with its computer on the bottom, DVD/CD burners and label printer in the middle, and touchscreen on top. It can be sited just about anywhere on the network, as data are transmitted from the modality, such as a CT or MR scanner, using the product's own Web browser. How it is used depends very much on where it is placed.

An imaging center might put the unit in the patient waiting room. As discs are burned with the latest study transmitted by the technologist, the receptionist calls the patient's name and hands her the disc. Several days' worth of studies can be stored for later archiving on disc for the facility's or department's records. Alternatively, Virtua might be installed in the patient records department of a small hospital, where one disc is burned and placed in the patient's jacket, another sent to the referring physician, and a third given to the patient.

Future software upgrades, scheduled for later this year, will allow image distribution over the Internet using e-mail or through a Web interface. The interface already built into the system allows multiple users to interact and send data to the CD/DVD burner. Another upgrade due in the months ahead will utilize DICOM information to list prior images and burn them onto the same disc as the current study.

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