Emageon teams with Dell to create value-priced PACS

June 7, 2007

PACS/IT developer Emageon and its partner Dell Computer unveiled June 7 a PACS product designed specifically for small U.S. hospitals. The RadSuite Express was introduced at the Emageon booth on the exhibit floor of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine meeting in Providence.

PACS/IT developer Emageon and its partner Dell Computer unveiled June 7 a PACS product designed specifically for small U.S. hospitals. The RadSuite Express was introduced at the Emageon booth on the exhibit floor of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine meeting in Providence.

This segment of the hospital market, composed of some 3600 facilities with fewer than 200 beds, was described by Emageon CEO, president, and board chairman Chuck Jett as underserved by PACS vendors. Yet the need for PACS is growing among these hospitals, which are moving increasingly into computed and digital radiography and adopting multislice CT as replacements for outdated single-slice scanners.

The web-enabled, single-server solution, which is based on Dell technology, will begin shipping in the third quarter of 2007. It will have the same clinical functionality as PACS installed at large hospitals but will be equipped with only enough computing power to handle annual procedure volumes between 20,000 and 80,000. It will lack the options that require hundreds or thousands of staff hours to configure and add to the price of the system.

"We believe this will enable small hospitals across the country to take advantage of the same tool sets as leading hospitals like Johns Hopkins," Jett said.

He compared the experience of buying Emageon's new RadSuite Express to buying a suit off the rack versus having one tailor-made.

The value-oriented system will operate on the same computer code as Emageon's full-blown PACS, but there will be no software configuration options. Hanging protocols will be set to a standard scheme, as will data routing. Such aspects of a PACS typically eat up a lot of staff time to configure, Jett said.

"It's appropriate for a Johns Hopkins to say they want these things a certain way but not for a 100-bed hospital," he said. "These are the things that create cost."

The system will be manufactured, delivered, installed, and supported by Dell. Each product will be tested before leaving the factory by the same people who will install it, said Scott Jenkins, Ph.D., director of healthcare solution sales at Dell.

"We'll know it will work," he said. "We have a white-glove service to put it in."

Dell and Emageon will work together in the marketing of RadSuite Express. Buyers will order the product on Dell's website, where it is scheduled to go live in mid-July.

Options relating to computing power will be available, as buyers pick the memory and computing speed appropriate for their needs.

Customers will also have plenty of choice when it comes to paying for the system. They may choose an application service provider per-study payment plan, capital purchase, a combination of the two that includes buying some PACS equipment and possibly adding RIS and contracting for offsite data storage, or financing of an equipment purchase arranged or handled through Dell and Emageon.

This is Dell's first major effort in healthcare, just as it is Emageon's first attempt to access the small hospital market. Emageon wins more than half the deals it bids on, but market research indicates that the company is included in only 12% of all PACS deals, Jett said.

"When you're batting more than .600, you want to see if you can increase your at-bats," he said.

The partnership with Dell is designed to do exactly that.