HIMSS Second Day: Imagery, interoperability vie for a place at the table

April 6, 2009
Greg Freiherr
Greg Freiherr

RIS and PACS vendors saw it coming a long time ago, a need to make data repositories work with IT the systems that drive workflow. The hybridization of RIS and PACS, preceded by interfaces that allowed the transfer of data between and among systems by different vendors, blazed a trail toward interoperability. This trail has now fanning out to super highway status to accommodate the spread of companies seeking to provide answers to IT questions that must be answered if the Obama initiative is to improve the efficiency of U.S. healthcare.

RIS and PACS vendors saw it coming a long time ago, a need to make data repositories work with IT the systems that drive workflow. The hybridization of RIS and PACS, preceded by interfaces that allowed the transfer of data between and among systems by different vendors, blazed a trail toward interoperability. This trail has now fanning out to super highway status to accommodate the spread of companies seeking to provide answers to IT questions that must be answered if the Obama initiative is to improve the efficiency of U.S. healthcare.

  • BridgeForward Software has made interoperability the go-to strategy for its Viaduct product. Released just two days before the opening of HIMSS 09, the software is a developer’s toolkit crafted to allow vendors, providers and BridgeForward’s own staff to come up with ways to make existing information technologies work together. The company is banking on a government definition of “meaningful use” – a key determinant of whether the use of a healthcare IT system will qualify for government reimbursement under the Obama stimulus plan – that includes interoperability. BridgeForward is positioning Viaduct as the means for vendors to rapidly design, build and deploy IT systems that integrate easily with others and for providers to make complex integrations among existing systems, just as the company prepares itself to offer services that use Viaduct to perform these integrations either entirely or in partnership with providers and vendors.
  • GE Healthcare launched its Enterprise Archive as a stand-alone image storage product, a secure archive for PACS designed to integrate with existing storage technologies. To drive home its point of interoperability, GE is showcasing an imaging /electronic health record customer case from the Canadian Health Infoway, in which GE is helping to integrate its PACS and imaging repositories into a harmonized central repository.
  • NRG Global provides the tools that measure the performance of information technologies, because if you can’t measure performance, how can anyone be sure an IT application system is really being used in a meaningful way? The company announced software at HIMSS09 designed specifically for the healthcare industry and tested at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to ensure it supports realistic hospital workflows and meets real world requirements. The products enable load testing and monitoring of an application’s performance from an end user’s point of view, identifying the early signs of bottlenecks that slow response times and degrade performance before they seriously impact productivity and quality of care, according to NRG.
  • Harris Corporation is demonstrating global access to medical imagery acquired on far-flung military posts and interpreted stateside. The company is also showcasing an operational system for electronically connecting federal agencies and healthcare providers to allow the exchange of patient information. Medical records that once took the Social Security Administration months to obtain are now retrieved in seconds from other agencies and providers across the nation, according to Harris. Harris-developed software drives the system, known as the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) CONNECT Solution.
  • Merge is talking up “software as a service”, a buzz phrase now circulating through many IT quarters but one that Merge and its Cedara software subsidiary can lay claim to helping to found.