European PACS target on-site needs

October 9, 1991

Danube Hospital, a 1200-bed facility in Vienna, will begin trainingon a pioneering Siemens picture archiving and communications systemthis month. The digital system should be in full operation byApril, said Peter H. Grassmann, group executive for Siemens

Danube Hospital, a 1200-bed facility in Vienna, will begin trainingon a pioneering Siemens picture archiving and communications systemthis month. The digital system should be in full operation byApril, said Peter H. Grassmann, group executive for Siemens Medicalof Germany.

The hospital awarded Siemens a contract one year ago to createa digital network for its new x-ray division.

"Whatever can be digitized from an imaging point of viewis being digitized. The x-ray division is fully networked. Theywill store digital images centrally and have case reading fromsoft display. We try to avoid film wherever possible," Grassmanntold SCAN.

The facility houses a spectrum of medical imaging modalities,including a storage-phosphor digital radiography system, CT, MRIand digital R/F. Siemens will use its Macintosh-based LiteBoxviewing station to link the medical imaging department to thehospital's intensive-care unit and operating room, he said.

Although the role of film will be reduced, radiology is noton the verge of a totally filmless department. This may not evenbe desirable. Hard copy, particularly images produced from digitalmultiformat cameras, serves a purpose, he said.

"The hope is to get as far as possible from x-ray filmas a relatively large and inflexible medium. Hard copy is a partof all this. For instance, hard copy (multiformat images) is anintegral part of communicating with referring physicians,"Grassmann said.

The trend to smaller format images should result in economicsavings for European radiology departments in terms of reducedneed for x-ray film, he said.

While paper hasn't been eliminated in businesses, data processinghas done much to increase office efficiency. The same will applyto radiology, he said.

"We have no paperless office. We will also have no filmlessradiology department in the near future," Grassmann said.

MUCH OF THE DEMAND for digital medical imaging equipment in Europeis fueled by the need to handle massive amounts of x-ray filmand create efficiencies within the hospital. This is differentfrom the U.S. market, where large hospital chains have createda strong demand for interhospital teleradiology, he said.

There are instances of interhospital image transmissions andcase sharing, but these do not dominate the European digital imagingmarket, he said.

"The dominant development is within departments,"Grassmann said. "People want to make use of the possibilitiesof modern digital networking."

Because of stringent laws regarding storage of medical imagesand frequent requests for viewing images, European hospitals havea major problem with film storage and film flow throughout thehospital, Grassmann said.

Siemens introduced a medical networking systems, labeled Sienet,at the European Congress of Radiology in Vienna last month. Sienetis a family of storage concepts. It begins with individual components,such as LiteBox; progresses to special-purpose networks, suchas the Camera Server network interface for laser printers; andtops the line with complex hospital-wide communications systems.An example of the latter is the system developed in Siemens' successfulbid to provide major PAC systems to the U.S. military (see story,page one).