ComView debuts free software for viewing cardiac cath images

ComView debuts free software for viewing cardiac cath imagesFirm hopes to speed implementation of cardiac PACSHospitals looking to convert their cardiac cath labs to a filmless environment often face the dilemma of how to provide their

ComView debuts free software for viewing cardiac cath images

Firm hopes to speed implementation of cardiac PACS

Hospitals looking to convert their cardiac cath labs to a filmless environment often face the dilemma of how to provide their soon-to-be digital images to referring institutions that have not invested in high-priced viewing software. To help solve the problem and spur on the development of this burgeoning market, ComView Medical Systems introduced ViewStar PC, a free, software-only DICOM CD viewer for cardiac cath labs, at last month's American College of Cardiology conference.

With ViewStar PC, physicians at cath labs that still use film can view digital images on CDs generated by other labs at no cost, said Joe Storm, CEO. In addition, physicians could install the software in their offices or at home to view full-motion cardiac images.

ViewStar PC runs on Windows 95/ 98/NT computers. Once loaded, the ViewStar PC offering can display cardiac images at 30 frames per second without the need to pre-load the images into random access memory (RAM), he said.

"You don't have to have a specialized PC with high amounts of RAM to use the product," he said. "The images can be played directly off the hard drive."

In addition, the Java-based ViewStar PC automatically adjusts the monitor's settings for viewing of the images, he said. When the viewing program is closed, the display returns to its prior configuration.

ViewStar PC will be able to support echocardiography and cardiac nuclear medicine images in its next release, due at the end of the summer, according to the company.

ViewStar PC has received Food and Drug Administration 510(k) clearance and is available only to U.S. sites. European distribution will follow upon receipt of the CE Mark, which the Livermore, CA-based company hopes to receive this year. Interested parties can sign up for the software at ComView's Web site ( Outside of the current geographic limitations, there are no restrictions on the use of ViewStar PC, Storm said. ViewStar PC will be maintained and updated without charge.

ComView hopes to leverage the free viewer installations into sales of its enterprise-wide systems, which range in price from about $70,000 for a single-room cath lab to $1 million for a large hospital network.

"We want to sell the enterprise, including the whole network and the archive," Storm said.

Specific ComView products include ViewStar review stations and WriteStar, a stand-alone DICOM CD recorder. In addition to converting analog-based cath labs to digital environments, WriteStar can also upgrade filmless, non-DICOM cath labs to the imaging standard, according to the company.

ComView Broadcast Network provides complete cath lab image archive, storage, and retrieval capabilities. The system's prefetching abilities are a key benefit of the offering, Storm said. In the future, the vendor expects to offer HTML-based report generation and interfacing with HIS networks.

Formed in 1995, the venture capital-backed ComView has focused on the cardiac PACS niche. Since sales began in early 1998, the company has installed its technology at 18 sites. In January, it completed hiring of a 12-person direct sales force to enhance its distribution efforts.