Firm is exclusive supplier for Kodak PACSTeleradiology supplier Image Data of San Antonio has made greatstrides in forming partnerships with major picture archiving andcommunications systems vendors, according to Don Alvarez, directorof
Teleradiology supplier Image Data of San Antonio has made greatstrides in forming partnerships with major picture archiving andcommunications systems vendors, according to Don Alvarez, directorof marketing. Cooperating with larger PACS firms provides ImageData with the marketing and service heft to expand the base ofits new software-focused teleradiology product line.
Image Data launched a low-cost, off-the-shelf teleradiologystrategy last year with the introduction of its MultiView forWindows software package (SCAN 8/11/93). Earlier this year, thefirm released a version of MultiView for Apple Macintosh computers.Selling for $895 to $1295, MultiView provides an inexpensive wayfor users to receive and display images using standard PC hardware.
In a physical sense, the firm's partnerships with PACS providersinvolves the creation by Image Data of an interface system calledTelerouter. Telerouters are customized to function with the proprietaryprotocols of particular PAC systems, allowing the user to sendimage information to a remote user with MultiView as easily asit would send to a local printer.
How the Telerouter and MultiView products are sold to existingand new PACS users varies with the specifics of cross-marketingagreements. The PC-based Telerouter sells for $12,000 to $15,000,Alvarez said.
"We do not believe that any small company can surviveand support its customers without a clear-cut strategic plan thatincludes partnering," he told SCAN. "Users have madean investment in the major (PACS) vendors. They would like toexpand the benefits of this investment without spending a lotof money."
The first Telerouter developed by Image Data was for Du Pont'sPAC system. It was first displayed at the 1993 Radiological Societyof North America meeting in Chicago.
While several teleradiology providers are developing interfacesin cooperation with Du Pont, Image Data is farthest along in termsof actual installations, Alvarez said. Six Du Pont Teleroutersare functioning in the field to date. Du Pont provides supportin installation and training of technologists to use the teleradiologyconnection.
While Du Pont was the first Telerouter OEM, Image Data scoredits biggest coup in gaining an exclusive teleradiology supplyarrangement with Eastman Kodak, he said. The first two Kodak Teleroutersites have been installed at the Mallinckrodt Institute in St.Louis and Methodist Hospital in San Antonio.
Image Data provides MultiView products indirectly to the 3MPACS by selling software to 3M's PACS partner Cemax. Image Dataprovides Telerouter technology to 3M on an OEM supply basis. Thisis then included in the PAC system under the 3M brand name HomeView.
The latest Telerouter connection has been designed and builtby Image Data for Agfa. The two are currently setting up the firstAgfa Telerouter beta site in the Houston area, according to Alvarez.
Targeting scanner OEMs. The teleradiology firm sells to scannervendors as well as to film suppliers, Alvarez said. Two monthsago, Image Data made its first teleradiology sale to GE, whichinstalled the $40,000 package at one of its CT sites. GE is apparentlyevaluating several potential teleradiology partners, followinga rupture in its relationship with Devices and Services of Dallas,manufacturer of the Images on Call teleradiology system.
"GE is looking at teleradiology companies and other majorPACS vendors to see who it will work with to provide its customerswith DICOM-compliant teleradiology and image management systems,"Alvarez said.
While Telerouters allow Image Data to connect its teleradiologyto proprietary PACS, the future is in open connections throughimplementation of the ACR-NEMA DICOM 3.0 interface and networkingstandard. Image Data expects to have all its products functioningon a DICOM platform by the end of this year, he said.
The firm just completed development of a new high-resolutiondisplay option for MultiView that will be its product highlightat the 1994 RSNA exhibition. Image Data will offer a 2000 x 2000-pixeldisplay card designed for Pentium processor-based PCs, Alvarezsaid.
The teleradiology vendor is also in the process of releasinga new version of MultiView, which will add a function to sendimages between different PCs operating with the software, he said.
Increasing the image handling power of inexpensive PC technologyexpands the ability of teleradiology to reach a wider audience,particularly referring physicians. It also provides radiologistswith a cost-effective way to compete for managed-care business,according to Alvarez.
"Radiology groups are learning that teleradiology isn'tjust for radiologists any more. This can help them market theirservices better," he said.
Image Data is expanding its partnering efforts into the telemedicinefield, he said. Agreements are in the works with several telecommunicationsfirms, including GTE and BellSouth, to integrate videoconferencingwith Image Data teleradiology.
"They are coming to Image Data because we have the largestteleradiology ISDN (integrated services digital network) installationin the world," Alvarez said. "We have five Baptist hospitalsand 18 radiologists' homes in San Antonio all connected with ISDN."