ComView’s eTeleCardiology service focuses on point-of-care

April 19, 2000

Product is first for new TeleMedicine NetworkAs Internet-based applications become more robust, many companies have begun developing and marketing enterprise-wide data management products that utilize

Product is first for new TeleMedicine Network

As Internet-based applications become more robust, many companies have begun developing and marketing enterprise-wide data management products that utilize the Web, including IntraCom (PNN 3/00), Algotec (PNN 3/00), Image Medical (PNN 3/00), and InSite One (PNN 2/00).

But Pleasanton, CA-based ComView is going beyond the enterprise-wide model with its free eTeleCardiology service, which gives cardiologists direct access to cardiac studies, reports, and related information at the point-of-care, via the Internet. The company introduced eTeleCardiology at the American Academy of Cardiology (ACC) meeting last month in Anaheim (HNN 4/5/00).

“Other e-health technologies require that cardiologists must move out of the workstation,” said Scott Mangelson, vice president of marketing for ComView. “Our technologies are completely integrated with tools and technologies that cardiologists use every day.”

eTeleCardiology enables cardiologists to access and consult on digital cardiology images and reports stored online at no cost to the user. The service is free because outside sponsors support it via the company’s TeleMedicine Network. ComView is negotiating sponsorship relationships with pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers; site sponsors should be announced by the end of May.

To use eTeleCardiology and access the stored data, users must first register and download ComView’s ViewStarPC software plug-in, a fully functioning DICOM viewer introduced at last year’s ACC meeting and provided free of charge (PNN 4/99). ViewStarPC was initially programmed to work with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer but will also work with Netscape Communicator and other Web browsers. The ComView network automatically detects whether ViewStarPC is installed; if the viewer is not present, users must download and install it before the log-in process can proceed.

Once logged in, users have access to the complete case information. eTeleCardiology sends an e-mail to the intended recipient (such as a cardiologist, referring physician, or patient) with the case’s Web address and log-in information, and the recipient can view the case on the Web for seven days. ComView plans to allow cardiologists to develop their own report templates for the stored cases to customize the information available.

Reports can be sent to the referring physician, cardiac surgeon, patient, or family in a single step. Each report can include whole or partial studies and background articles with links. Full cases can be compressed and downloaded in a few minutes.

All DICOM-compliant data are initially sent in lossy compression; images and reports are converted into ViewStarPC’s proprietary format using a type of JPEG compression. Once in ComView’s network, the individual images can be exported to other applications in JPEG or GIF formats.

ComView plans to eventually expand the viewer’s capabilities to include loops in AVI format. Because eTeleCardiology is primarily a collaborative rather than a diagnostic tool, ComView is using lossy compression, but may develop the lossless compression capability as its user base grows.

ComView’s collocation provider, Exodus, stores and manages the equipment, including the DVD and digital audiotape where the images are stored. Cisco Systems provides high-end network equipment and security. ComView has planned its system to accommodate the high I/O ratio needed to support the network traffic involved in transporting high-quality digital images, and has built in scalability so that it can add servers and capacity on demand.

The eTeleCardiology service is not yet fully integrated with clinical information systems. Case and patient demographic information is collected simultaneously at the points of integration with the clinical information system. ComView may build in complete integration if a sufficient number of users request it.

ComView claims to have distributed more than 1000 disks with the new eTelecardiology software, which includes the ViewStarPC plug-in, at the ACC meeting. The number of software downloads exceeds 100 per week, according to company officials, who expect that number to increase as current ViewStarPC users begin to take their images to the Internet. The target customers are invasive cardiologists, who represent a $31 billion market, according to ComView.

The company’s next offering for its TeleMedicine Network is slated for release this summer. Called eRemoteAccess, it will provide smaller facilities with hardware to capture and convert every analog image from imaging equipment into digital images that are stored permanently on ComView’s TeleMedicine Network. Like eTeleCardiology cases, eRemoteAccess cases will be accessible on the Internet via a secure log-in. This service will give cardiologists the capability to quickly access patient information from remote facilities without traveling to the facility and without waiting for the remote facility to convert the film to digital and then send it. This will result in substantial cost and time savings.

Unlike the free eTeleCardiology, however, the eRemoteAccess product will be subscription-based. Final pricing has not been determined as yet. Following its earlier business strategy, ComView hopes to lure its eTeleCardiology subscribers into signing up for other, more lucrative services (PNN 4/99). The company is lining up beta-testers for eRemoteAccess.

© 2000 Miller Freeman, Inc., a United News & Media company.