HP adds capabilities to EnConcert echo PACS

HP adds capabilities to EnConcert echo PACSFirm's healthcare IS efforts included in planned spin-offHospitals' interest in converting echocardiography labs to a digital environment is on the rise. To help ease this transition for users,

HP adds capabilities to EnConcert echo PACS

Firm's healthcare IS efforts included in planned spin-off

Hospitals' interest in converting echocardiography labs to a digital environment is on the rise. To help ease this transition for users, cardiac ultrasound market leader Hewlett-Packard unveiled several new additions to its EnConcert echocardiography image management offering.

The first release, Study Manager, allows sonographers to acquire, review, and edit complete patient studies on the Palo Alto, CA-based company's Sonos echocardiography and ImagePoint Hx multispecialty ultrasound scanners. In addition, Study Manager automatically presents measurements, calculations, and controls appropriate to the image being reviewed, according to the firm.

It can be configured to meet specific protocols and allows users to review and select what images will be included in a study before exporting it to a network or saving it to magneto-optical disk or videotape, said Joe Biegel, product manager for information management solutions.

"Cardiac ultrasound systems can acquire a large number of still frames or loops," Biegel said. "Study Manager allows users to review the images onboard the scanner and determine the salient part of the images and loops that need to be included in the echo exam."

The company's new integrated digital interface then allows the images and information to be transmitted to the EnConcert system, or to third-party, DICOM-compliant servers. The integrated digital interface also allows EnConcert to acquire images from multiple scanners. If a scanner needs to be disconnected from the network for a portable scan, the images can be stored onboard the unit; the scanner automatically exports these studies to the network when reattached. Lossless compression schemes are employed to reduce image transmission times.

Both Study Manager and the integrated digital interface were debuted at the American College of Cardiology meeting in March. In addition to the new software suites, HP has improved the performance of EnConcert in the latest revision of that product, which was also showcased at the meeting. The release includes improvements in speed and support for 10BaseT and 100BaseT Ethernet, allowing customers to take better advantage of the benefits of a fully digital echo lab, said David Kolstad, marketing manager of imaging systems.

HP has offered the Windows NT-based EnConcert for over two years, and it has been installed at 50 sites, including Duke University in Durham, NC; Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA; and the University of Chicago.

The firm's enhancements to its echocardiography PACS efforts were by no means the only newsworthy developments at HP, which announced last month that it would spin off four businesses outside of its core computer-related focus. The firm's Andover, MA-based medical products group, which includes the company's healthcare information systems efforts, will be included in the spin-off. HP's test and measurement, components, and chemical analysis units are also to be included. The businesses will form a new public company, which has yet to be named. Completion of the restructuring is expected in the first half of 2000.

HP healthcare executives believe the spin-off will be beneficial for the medical products group, allowing them more flexibility while giving the company the financial base it needs to succeed. HP's medical products group had 1998 annual revenues of $1.4 billion, and the overall spin-off had revenues of $8 billion. HP's medical products group maintains a market leadership position in cardiac ultrasound and also participates in the radiology market with ImagePoint Hx.