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Custom CDs go out to referring physicians

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Radiology groups know that in order to survive in the unforgiving world of managed care, they must provide efficient, cost-effective imaging service to referring physicians. Using CDs as an inexpensive means of distributing medical images to referring

Radiology groups know that in order to survive in the unforgiving world of managed care, they must provide efficient, cost-effective imaging service to referring physicians. Using CDs as an inexpensive means of distributing medical images to referring physicians who lack access to a hospital or radiology group PACS is one possibility.

A version called PacsCube Express retrieves DICOM images and burns them onto a standard removable CD. The burned CD comes complete with a DICOM viewer, contains previous studies, and even prints the patient name, medical record number, procedure description, date, and the hospital's logo and phone number onto the surface of the disc.

When the CD is placed in the referring physician's CD drive on a Windows PC, it automatically loads the viewer and presents the physician with diagnostic-quality images.

Hoag Hospital, a 416-bed acute care medical center in Newport Beach, CA, which provides x-ray, mammography, ultrasound, and MRI services, has adopted the PacsCube system to distribute images to referring physicians in the community. Hoag no longer relies on mailing films, which is costly and time-consuming, and produces a bulky product prone to being lost.

PacsCube, from DatCard Systems in Newport Beach, receives DICOM images from either a diagnostic imaging device or the hospital PACS and records the images to CD-R. Up to 10 studies for the same or multiple patients can be stored on a single disc.

The system prints a label containing the patient's demographics along with the hospital's logo and address directly to the surface of the disc, using a Rimage Prism thermal printer. A copy of eFilm Light, the viewer software used to view the images, is also recorded on the disc, as is a PDF file containing a 46-page user manual.

Benefits of CD-R in medical imaging are obvious. A CD can be produced and mailed for the price of a cup of coffee, and the small size and large storage capacity makes it easy for a physician to view the disc anywhere: on a PC at the office, clinic, or home or on a laptop while traveling.

The hands-free, automated PacsCube solution is unique among existing systems because it sits on a network like any other peripheral and records images and labels unattended.

Hoag technicians like the system because it saves time and the discs are easy to manage. They estimated that about 70% of the referring physicians embraced the technology immediately, while others may need some time to adjust.

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