InfoTrax debuts compression offering for image distribution

August 1, 1999

InfoTrax debuts compression offering for image distributionJava-based offering also suitable for teleradiology applicationsHealthcare institutions are increasingly looking at ways to distribute radiology images to referring physicians to

InfoTrax debuts compression offering for image distribution

Java-based offering also suitable for teleradiology applications

Healthcare institutions are increasingly looking at ways to distribute radiology images to referring physicians to take full advantage of the benefits of digital image management. One company that hopes to play a role in this sector is InfoTrax, a newcomer to the medical image management market.

The Pittsburgh, PA-based company is betting that Viewbox, a proprietary compression algorithm and platform-independent desktop software package already sold into the litigation, publishing, and municipal-management markets, will attract interest from the medical imaging marketplace.

Viewbox is both a scanning package and a Web-based image-management system that supports all types of medical images and video clips, including x-ray, MRI, CT, ultrasound, EKG, and fluoroscopy videos, and fetal monitor tapes, according to InfoTrax president Ed Greiser, who designed the software and wrote the compression algorithm.

Although the company declined to provide compression ratios employed in Viewbox or to discuss the product’s proprietary programming methods in detail, Greiser said the software compresses images into a lossless JPEG or MPEG finished file format that can be opened and viewed without the need for decompression software on the user’s end.

For example, a one-MB file can be compressed to 80 or 90 KB without altering image clarity or integrity. In fact, the entire compression/decompression process is transparent to the end user, according to Greiser.

Using Viewbox, up to 14,000 full-color images or 90 minutes of video can be stored on a single CD-ROM. Viewbox can also work with an existing PACS installation, acting as a desktop front-end image-scanning and management system.

In fact, because Viewbox is written in Java and can be downloaded via the Internet, it is platform-independent, and DICOM compatibility is not an issue, according to Greiser.

Once scanned or uploaded, images can be resized, reshaped, annotated, and merged into reports, then shared with colleagues via LANs, WANs, or the Internet, regardless of hardware.

“We deliver a JPEG image in near real time that is readable on virtually any PC or other desktop system,” he said. “And you don’t have the kind of wait [for transmitted images] often experienced with other similar programs over the Internet.”

The image transmission speed makes Viewbox appropriate for teleradiology applications as well, Greiser said. The company plans to target a number of potential customers including physicians, hospital administrators, HIS/RIS developers, and insurance firms interested in a low-cost image-review package for second-opinion reads.

InfoTrax also believes its compression capabilities and resulting image quality will initially make Viewbox a strong desktop contender in the second-opinion market and eventually the primary-read sector as well.

Insurance firms are particularly interested in Viewbox, Greiser said. The company has also been approached by some OEMs but is still considering whether to make Viewbox available as part of another product.

Customers can send their images to InfoTrax, which uses Viewbox to convert the analog images into digital data that is stored on a CD-ROM and then delivered back to the customer. Viewbox can also be downloaded via the Internet and installed on-site for a licensing fee. Viewbox’s cost varies depending on whether the user is buying the analog-to-digital conversion service or licensing the software; the company declined to provide further details on pricing.

InfoTrax has been in the commercial imaging market for 10 years and has been a subsidiary of data processing firm Commercial Data Services since 1992. The company’s other products include a municipal image-management line, digital imaging software applications for the legal community, and Internet business networking products.