Data General, MarkCare join forces with WorldCareFirms to offer integrated PACS/telemedicine systemsThe integration of telemedicine capabilities into PACS networks has attracted some interest in the marketplace. To date, however, few
Firms to offer integrated PACS/telemedicine systems
The integration of telemedicine capabilities into PACS networks has attracted some interest in the marketplace. To date, however, few firms have succeeded in commercializing these offerings, and implementation of such systems has been minimal.
That may change soon, however. Data General and its PACS partner, MarkCare Medical Systems, have entered into a strategic alliance with telemedicine software developer WorldCare Technologies, which was spun off from telemedicine services provider WorldCare Limited in November. The three companies will pool their products, services, and resources to provide integrated, clinical information management systems worldwide.
Data General has previously been best known as a systems integrator in the HIS market. The Westboro, MA-based company now hopes to differentiate itself from more well-known competitors in the PACS and telemedicine sectors through its belief that clinical imaging is just another component of the electronic patient record, said Mike Carrigan, director of international healthcare. By allying with WorldCare, the company can handle nonradiology images, he said.
"We've seen results of this integrated approach in the international market where it has put us in a much stronger position than if we were trying to attack the market as a PACS supplier and banging our chest against the Agfas and Siemens of the world," Carrigan said.
The companies are already working on large-scale projects around the globe. In Spain, Data General and Bloomfield, NJ-based MarkCare have installed the IntraScan II PACS software at Alzira Hospital in Valencia. WorldCare's telemedicine software will be added in February. That site, responsible for 232,000 capitated lives, is one of the first hospitals in that country to participate in the privatization of healthcare, Carrigan said.
The firms are also close to landing a $4 million contract with a Portuguese hospital, which would employ the WorldCare software to link up five separate facilities. Teleradiology would likely be included, Carrigan said.
WorldCare will also enter the eastern European market through a relationship with KAPPA, a Romanian telecom company and Internet Service Provider. WorldCare's OpenMed offering will be used to link up outlying clinics with hospitals to better distribute medical services within Romania, said Eman Safadi, COO of WorldCare Technologies of Cambridge, MA.
The OpenMed software suite includes OpenMed Manager, a server that manages the network, including routing cases between physicians and clinics and hos-pitals. OpenMed Capture aggregates telemedicine images and patient information into what the company calls an electronic telemedicine record (ETR). This record is then forwarded by OpenMed Manager to the physicians for review, she said.
OpenMed Viewer is the company's Web-based application that allows physicians to view the ETR and report their findings over the Internet or an intranet, Safadi said.
In other Data General/MarkCare developments, the company has begun installation of its PACS software at Princeton Community Hospital in Princeton, WV (PNN 9/98). The hospital, which will serve as the company's flagship PACS site, has begun employing the PACS technology for in-house image distribution to the ER, ICU, and OR. Some software changes have been made as requested by the radiology department, and full use is expected by March, said Bob Iacono, vice president of Data General's worldwide healthcare division. The companies have also received letters of intent for PACS purchases from two other hospitals, he said.