Integration and scalable products leave PACS poised to prosper

January 1, 2000

Integration and scalable products leave PACS poised to prosperEntry-level systems attract first-time buyers at RSNAJudging by the number of vendors promoting image management and archiving products at the recent RSNA meeting, PACS has

Integration and scalable products leave PACS poised to prosper

Entry-level systems attract first-time buyers at RSNA

Judging by the number of vendors promoting image management and archiving products at the recent RSNA meeting, PACS has finally come of age. Of the more than 600 commercial exhibitors, nearly half claimed some kind of PACS or PACS-related product. In particular, the emphasis on integration and scalability signal that both the technology and the industry have reached a new level of maturity.

But first impressions can be deceiving, and it appears that PACS remains a daunting investment for most radiologists. The multitude of products on the market does not make selection of the appropriate configuration any easier. One radiologist, after three days of evaluating PACS products at the show, said he has decided to hire a consultant to help his group determine what type of PACS installation it should purchase.

And for the most part, customers still see PACS as a large-scale investment, especially with the increasing integration of this technology with various clinical information systems and multimodality imaging systems. Fortunately, several vendors have responded to this problem with entry-level PACS products that are both scalable and relatively affordable.

These products include Web- and Windows NT-based PACS workstations with user-friendly interfaces and modular components that can be mixed and matched according to the customer’s needs and scaled up as the installation warrants. These systems are also designed to enable enterprise-wide image distribution on standard desktop PCs, making image access and transfer practical outside the radiology department. The idea is to stimulate the market by simplifying the transition to digital imaging and archiving and making it more attractive to smaller hospitals and clinics that are just beginning to consider an investment in PACS.

Despite the number of products and enhancements introduced at the meeting, however, there was little that was truly new. For the most part, vendors both large and small were promoting features that are becoming almost standard, including scalability, workflow management, image compression, Web-based architectures, multimodality support, and embedded RIS/PACS integration.

Some of the most interesting new products at the meeting were those designed to enhance PACS and RIS workflow and productivity. These included the Web-based image-distribution technologies being developed and promoted by Stentor (PNN 11/99), ImageMedical, RealTime Image, and LizardTech (PNN 6/99), and advanced voice-recognition capabilities now being offered as add-ons by most major PACS vendors.

AccuImage Diagnostics

  • The South San Francisco, CA-based vendor received clearance to market its 3-D software for medical imaging applications prior to the show. Its AccuImage product suite features advanced 3-D visualization tools as well as procedures that detect and quantify coronary artery calcification.
  • AccuImage debuted eStation3D at the show, a Web-based image review and postprocessing software package. eStation3D provides physicians with remote and local 2-D review and 3-D visualization tools for medical imaging data.

Acuson

  • Acuson put the spotlight on its Digital Dynamic Review concept, which brings together the dynamic imaging capabilities of its Sequoia and Aspen ultrasound scanners with its KinetDx ultrasound miniPACS offering to increase diagnostic confidence and productivity, according to the Mountain View, CA-based vendor. KinetDx, which was introduced in June 1999, also contains a new feature called Dynamic Array, which enables physicians to review 18 full-motion clips simultaneously. Shipments of radiology versions of KinetDx are under way, with cardiology shipments set for the first quarter.

ADAC Laboratories

  • ADAC showcased its Envoi image and information management package, introduced at the 1998 RSNA meeting. Envoi is a modular, integrated PACS/RIS product that incorporates the company’s successful QuadRIS radiology information system, as well as an intranet image server, clinical review workstations, voice recognition, short- and long-term archives, and the Workflow Manager originally developed by ADAC for DIN-PACS (PNN 10/99).
  • ADAC also announced key partnerships designed to expand the company’s presence in the PACS market. ADAC has formed a strategic alliance with PACS software developer Cedara Software (formerly ISG Technologies) to develop and market integrated PACS/RIS products (PNN 11/99). ADAC also has a new agreement with Perot Systems of Dallas for implementation and service capabilities to support QuadRIS and Envoi in large-scale installations. After the show, ADAC announced a distribution agreement with Agfa that allows ADAC to offer Agfa’s ADC CR systems and DryStar printers with Envoi.

Agfa

  • Agfa broadened the scalability of its Impax product line with the launch of Impax Basix, an entry-level version of Impax R4. Targeted for smaller or lower-volume healthcare facilities, Impax Basix utilizes Impax hardware infrastructure but supports fewer modalities and displays, according to the Ridgefield Park, NJ-based vendor. Agfa hopes Impax Basix will allow the firm to extend the attraction of Impax to a greater number of institutions, including smaller enterprises, such as 100-bed hospitals. In addition, the company is positioning Impax as a standards-based platform for systems integration.
  • Agfa also showed Embedded-IS, a work-in-progress option for Impax that converts the PACS offering into an integrated image and information system, adding RIS functionality. Launch is scheduled for midyear. Embedded-IS will also be available for Impax Basix.
  • The vendor highlighted the extension of Impax outside the radiology department. Impax for Cardiology, which will include Impax Basix and Embedded-IS, will be introduced at the American College of Cardiology meeting in the spring. Impax Basix, the Embedded-IS option, and Impax for Cardiology were the first products developed by Impax Technology, the firm launched in early 1999 by Agfa and PACS software developer Mitra Imaging to develop Impax software.
  • Agfa has integrated Talk Technology’s TalkStation/Radiology speech recognition and digital dictation software into Impax R4. Speech recognition capability is also available for Impax R3.5 as a peripheral component for new or existing workstations.
  • Agfa continues to stress its commitment to computed radiography. The firm discussed the new scanhead technology it has under development, which it believes will cost less and improve speed and image quality. The new technology uses an integrated circuit design to allow the CR reader to function as an array of scanners rather than as a single detector.
  • Agfa also announced three OEM deals. The vendor will replace Fuji as GE’s CR supplier. In addition, Agfa has agreed to provide low-end CR developer PhorMax with its Musica image processing software. PhorMax will offer Agfa imaging plates directly to resellers and end users of PhorMax products. Agfa also signed a distribution agreement with ADAC.

ALI Technologies

  • With market interest shifting toward full PACS offerings, ALI continues to expand beyond its core ultrasound business. The Vancouver, BC-based company introduced a multimodality Windows NT workstation for CT and MR that complements its UltraPACS product. ALI is also looking to move into cardiology through its recent agreement with Camtronics.
  • Other new products include version 4.2 of UltraPACS, which features an Oracle database, next-generation gray-scale workstations, extended cine clip functions for handling entire case exams, a 3-D visualization software option; and DataStore, an enterprise-wide scalable data repository for archiving multisite, multimodality images. The company also previewed digital video streaming and automated report distribution capabilities for UltraPACS that will be available later this year.
  • In business developments, ALI announced an alliance with Vital Images. This is another in a series of strategic relationships the company has entered into in the last few months; other new partners include Camtronics, SonoSite, and ATL (PNN 11/99).

Algotec

  • Algotec introduced MediPrime, an integrated primary reading and reporting workstation for radiology that incorporates workflow management capabilities. MediPrime builds sophisticated work lists and automatically calls up studies to be read, placing them on its high-resolution, high-brightness monitors. It also searches for and displays all previous studies for a patient and any relevant clinical data on all DICOM-compliant devices in the system, as well as HIS, RIS, and CIS.
  • The Raanana, Israel-based company also exhibited several enhancements and upgrades to its ImageNet family of image and data management products that are designed to move the company beyond imaging into virtual patient records via the Internet. New for MediFlow, Algotec’s suite of workflow management tools, are D-Route DICOM “smart” agents, which autoroute patient files where they are needed. The goal is to eliminate redundant interdepartmental paperwork and information searches.
  • Algotec has also added a “data push” feature to MediSurf, its Web-based access engine that now boasts 120 installations worldwide, and SurfLink, an advanced online conferencing tool that allows two users to collaborate in real-time.
  • Debuting at the RSNA meeting was version 4.0 of ProVision, Algotec’s multimodality processing station. This latest version offers Web-based image access capabilities and advanced volume-rendering features, including virtual endoscopic and colonoscopic tools for CT and MR studies.

Amicas

  • Amicas introduced two new products and an e-commerce relationship at the RSNA meeting. The Watertown, MA, company’s new Internet-based viewer, which is offered free to customers online (similar to Microsoft Explorer), is designed to handle all kinds of radiological images but also includes some additional high-end features usually associated with diagnostic workstations, such as stack mode and cross-reference lines.
  • The company’s other new product is an Internet-based subscription service called Amicas.net, which is intended to serve as a backbone for image management and distribution. Amicas.net services include teleradiology, PACS and workstation support, lossless and compressed image support, customized work lists, optional HL7 and SQL interfaces for HIS/RIS integration, and a new document-exchange service.
  • The document-exchange service is part of Amicas’ new e-commerce relationship with United Parcel Service. Through this relationship, the UPS information services group will now handle electronic document exchange for Amicas customers using its encryption-based digital delivery service.
  • In conjunction with Amicas.net, the company has also developed Amicas Dashboard, which makes value-added services available to Amicas.net users. Each tab on the Dashboard represents a single service or a suite of Internet services.

Analogic

  • This OEM supplier of PACS-enabling technologies is looking to come out from behind the scenes. The Peabody, MA-based company chose the 1999 RSNA meeting to begin publicizing its position with a five-point outline describing who Analogic is and how they fit into the PACS implementation model. The goal is to communicate to potential customers, OEMs, and the industry at large that Analogic is instrumental in providing advanced PACS integration, workflow enhancement tools, image processing capabilities, quality assurance tools, and Web-enabled image distribution tools that are used by many vendors.
  • On the product side, Analogic introduced an NT-based technology platform called iWorks at the RSNA show. Targeted for OEM customers, iWorks is designed to serve as a universal workstation and DICOM-compliant image management tool for PACS. It features a Web-enabled client/server architecture that permits customers to choose functionality from a range of workstation, image management, and routing tools for PACS and digital radiology integration. It comprises three core application modules: data acquisition, data management and image display, and routing and distribution.
  • Other new products launched at the show include WebCare, a Web-based clinical application that provides secure electronic access to clinical reports and medical images for results reporting via an intranet or the Internet, and the SD200 and SD400 DICOM-compliant digital and analog gateways. These products, which are the first to utilize the iWorks platform, are designed to work with Lumisys film digitizers and the ACR 2000 low-cost CR system.

Applicare Medical Imaging

  • This was the first year Applicare participated at the RSNA show as a subsidiary of GE Medical Systems. Even so, the Zeist, Netherlands-based company had a separate booth and intends to continue to maintain multiple channels outside GE for distribution of its products.
  • Applicare introduced several new products, including an upgraded version of its RadWorks WebViewer that incorporates many of the features of its traditional workstations, including cine and zoom capabilities and a conference mode that allows multiple users to collaborate with shared mouse pointers and voice- and videoconferencing. A commercial version of WebViewer is expected to in May.
  • Another new product from Applicare is RadStore, the company’s first NT-based, software-only digital archive that was originally developed for the U.S. Navy. RadStore features a Web-based console for remote access and operation via the Internet and supports all storage media, including DLT, CD-ROM, and DVD. With this product, Applicare hopes to achieve in archiving what RadWorks helped it achieve in workstations.
  • Product enhancements were also exhibited in the Applicare booth, including a workgroups server for RadWorks that allows up to five departmental users to share a common database of studies.
  • Applicare demonstrated its proof-of-concept workflow architecture, which takes advantage of such commercial off-the-shelf products as Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes and is designed to enhance system flexibility and connectivity. The company anticipates launching several beta sites for this technology in the next few months, primarily in the military.

Aurora Technologies

  • As part of an overall effort to move beyond its core workstation business and offer more integrated packages, Aurora launched microPACS, a new Windows NT-based system that includes a local archive workstation, the company’s signature user interface, and embedded archiving software from FileLink that can be expanded as needed to accommodate larger archives. The Lake Forest, IL-based company is also developing reseller relationships to further expand its integrated capabilities, including agreements with Vidar for its digitizers and with Analogic for its DICOM gateways.
  • Other products introduced by Aurora at the show include the Teleradiology Remote Package, which bundles a PC server, a modem, PC review software (DeskView) for the receiving end, and JPEG-compression software (the company is looking at making wavelet compression available as well), and new viewing workstations for primary chest readings (2K zoom or with 2K monitors).

Barco Display Systems

  • Barco introduced an addition to the company’s MeDis line of displays: the MeDis 2MP2 2-megapixel medical display system, which incorporates the company’s MGD221 gray-scale displays, BarcoMed 2MP2 PCI medical imaging boards, Windows NT display driver, and video interface cables.
  • Barco also debuted the MVC 10U medical video-up converter and the MVC 10D medical video-down converter, which are designed to interface between medical imaging application platforms and gray-scale displays. Both products enable computer image scan conversion in a variety of gray-scale applications.
  • The Kortrijk, Belgium-based company introduced an addition to its line of medical imaging boards, the BarcoMed 4MP2, for high-resolution gray-scale graphics and high-end medical imaging applications; and Windows 2000 compliance for all of its PACS display products, which enables a variety of display technologies to be packaged on a single screen.
  • Works-in-progress include a 20-inch flat panel, high-brightness display for use in ER and OR situations; a 24-inch-wide panel (1920 x 1280 pixels) display for wide viewing angles; and the Aura line of next-generation medical imaging boards. The first Aura product, 2MP2H, will be available in the second quarter.

Brit Systems

  • PACS developer Brit Systems was emphasizing workflow management at the 1999 RSNA meeting. The Dallas-based company has built its business by providing customized turnkey systems for PACS and teleradiology using many off-the-shelf components. In addition to its participation in DIN-PACS, the company has developed a variety of tools to enhance image management including viewers, image-capture devices, and archiving systems.
  • Brit has offered a Web viewer for enterprise-wide image distribution for several years, according to Michelle Fisher, company president, and is working to close the loop between image acquisition and RIS via better workflow management tools.

Canon Medical Systems

  • In PACS developments, Canon rolled out version 5.0 of its PACS software. E-mail functionality has been added in the latest release, as have improved speed and a simplified user interface. The new release also offers improved patient searching capabilities and 16-bit wavelet image compression. Security features, such as fully customizable groups, have been incorporated.
  • Canon also showed Canon Connector, a RIS/PACS/imaging modality integration capability developed as part of the Irvine, CA-based firm’s participation in the IHE project. Canon showed integration with IDX Systems’ Imaging Suite via Canon Connector in its booth.
  • Canon expanded its digital radiography efforts with the introduction of CXDI-22, a bucky system that operates both as an upright and as a table system, using a universal stand. CXDI-22 features a 17 x 17-inch imaging area, and a 2.9-inch-thick sensor plate that does not require replacement of existing bucky table systems.

Cares Built

  • Cares Built again highlighted its Clarity 7000 amorphous silicon flat-panel detector. The firm expects to receive FDA 510(k) clearance for Clarity 7000 by the end of the first quarter. The Keyport, NJ-based vendor also discussed developments with its Clarity TelePACS digital image management efforts.

Cedara Software

  • Having recently changed its name from ISG Technologies, Cedara Software was busy launching its new identity and making several business-related announcements at the RSNA meeting. In addition to formally announcing a new product development partnership with ADAC Laboratories (PNN 11/99), the Toronto-based company has signed an agreement with Pegasus Imaging of Tampa, FL, to incorporate Pegasus’ PICTools medical image compression technology into Cedara’s PACS and imaging development toolkit.
  • On the product side, Cedara emphasized its radiology and cardiology imaging and image management tools. New products included the Cardiology Component suite, which features 4-D capabilities for viewing the heart in motion. Other products on display in the booth were the VR SoftView workstation software package; VR HardStore, a hardware and software image management and archiving system; the IAP imaging application toolkit; and SNN, image-guided surgery software with 3-D segmentation, image fusion, surgical path planning, patient-to-image registration, and navigation software for real-time imaging.

Cerner

  • Cerner exhibited two existing radiology products in its booth: RadNet, the Kansas City-based company’s distributed client/server RIS, and ProView, their radiology viewer. Cerner also showcased Prism, an integrated PACS/RIS work-in-progress developed in conjunction with partner GE Medical Systems.

Data General

  • Following its acquisition by EMC last year, the Westboro, MA-based company is expanding its investment in integrated image and information management, which includes strategic relationships with Swissray, MarkCare, Worldcare Technologies, and Meditech.
  • Data General was promoting its new PACS strategy at the RSNA meeting, which comprises five elements that should be considered central to any PACS installation: universal image acquisition, image management distribution, clinical image display, enterprise image storage networks, and image enabling of each customer’s HIS. The company is currently beta testing an embedded imaging application in a Meditech HIS already installed at Princeton Community Hospital and is working with McKesson HBOC and Shared Medical Systems on similar efforts.
  • Other demonstrations in the Data General booth included multimedia telemedicine through the company’s relationship with Worldcare; digital radiography using Swissray’s digital radiography technology; enterprise-wide PACS using MarkCare’s PACSView system, wavelet compression, and long-term archiving; and wireless networking through a partnership with Proxim.

DeJarnette Research Systems

  • This connectivity company showcased its first turnkey PACS product, Radiance, introduced as a work-in-progress at the 1998 RSNA meeting. The system includes the company’s VisiShare line of Windows NT-based workstations; MediShare IQ, a database manager and HIS/RIS interface; and NetShare IQ, which connects modalities to DICOM networks. As part of this demonstration, the Towson, MD-based vendor also showed connectivity with the NT-based RadWare RIS from WebMedix and computed radiography and a film digitizer from Lumisys using DeJarnette’s ImageShare CR and ImageShare FD acquisition stations. The ImageShare products sell for under $50,000 and are intended as entry-level systems.
  • DeJarnette also introduced several new products and product enhancements at the meeting, including the new Information Attendant, a DICOM-compliant image management device that comprises a computer and touchscreen (versus a mouse) in a single package that can be mounted on the wall.
  • A new version of the VisiShare display for radiologists and referring physicians was also introduced at the show as a work-in-progress; this product will be available in the first quarter, according to the company. In the archiving arena, DeJarnette exhibited both its short-term RAID archive and a long-term DLT archive.
  • DeJarnette also showed an upgrade to its TeleShare IQ teleradiology system that enables scheduling, routing, and image delivery over a LAN or WAN using high-capacity networking or POTS.

Dicomit

  • Dicomit formally introduced two new products at the RSNA meeting. Building on its success in DICOM connectivity technology, the company has replaced its flagship product, the DICOM Image Manager, with the DICOM Information Manager. The name reflects the product’s ability to send and receive text and other information as well as images. In addition, it fully supports the VA Modality Interface DICOM conformance requirements.
  • The Canadian company also showcased its 3-D reconstruction capability for ultrasound and its new 3-D review station. The Universal 3-D Review Station reconstructs an ultrasound 3-D volume from any cine file sent as a DICOM multiframe object from any ultrasound machine. Although designed for 3-D reconstruction and image review, the Universal 3-D Review Station also incorporates conventional static and cine clip image review.
  • In business news, Dicomit has established new OEM partnerships with three ultrasound networking vendors, although it declined to disclose their identities. The company already sells its products through OEM relationships with the major PACS companies, including Agfa, Kodak, Fuji, Toshiba, Canon, Cedara, and Barco.

Digident

  • This Israeli dental CR developer made its RSNA meeting debut with the introduction of a low-cost CR reader. The product, called Paxi-r, will have an end-user price of under $30,000. Paxi-r, which can scan a single plate or a four-cassette magazine and includes PACS and teleradiology software, will be sold in the U.S. pending FDA 510(k) clearance.

Dome Imaging Systems

  • Dome introduced a new monitor calibration product called Calibration TQA (total quality assurance) for Windows 95- and NT-based systems. This product is the next generation of Dome’s Luminance Calibration system, introduced three years ago by the Waltham, MA-based developer of flat-panel displays, graphics cards for display monitors, and software toolkits. Calibration TQA includes both an advanced photometer and new user-friendly software and is designed specifically for use with CRT-based displays in medical imaging.

DR Systems

  • DR Systems featured an expanded version of its DR Reporter digital dictation system, which adds canned report and speech recognition capabilities. The company also unveiled a work-in-progress interactive 3-D reconstruction package and another work-in-progress DVD with archiving capabilities.
  • Also on display was Web Ambassador, a Web-based version of the San Diego, CA-based company’s Ambassador image distribution system that provides access to images for referring physicians and radiologists at home via the Internet or an intranet. DR Systems is focusing much of its product development energy on meeting the needs of referring physicians and others who need image access capabilities outside the radiology department. The company currently claims an installed customer base of 70 sites, with five new sites pending.

Dynamic Healthcare

  • This RIS vendor highlighted the integration of its RadPlus and PACSPlus products. For example, in RadPlus the user can access images directly without having to switch to a PACS; the goal is to connect the patient and the procedure and reduce the number of steps users must take to access all the information they want through one-button access within each product. PACSPlus, a Windows NT-based system, also features a Web viewer for accessing both images and reports outside the radiology department.
  • In business-related developments, the Lake Mary, FL-based company said it had several discussions with other vendors at the meeting about ways to further integrate Dynamic’s RadPlus RIS application with various PACS applications.

Eastman Kodak/Cemax-Icon

  • The overriding theme in the Kodak booth was integrated imaging. Rochester, NY-based Kodak introduced three new digital radiography and two new computed radiography systems (see page 1), along with a fully integrated systems approach, at the RSNA meeting.
  • In PACS, Kodak promoted its PACS Link system, which enables laser imagers to accept image data from multiple imaging modalities and transmit the data to other laser imaging systems, digital archives, and workstations. The company sees PACS Link as a PACS starting point that can become an image management module once a full-blown PACS is implemented. Kodak also introduced enhancements to its distributed medical imaging system.
  • With the addition of Cemax-Icon’s PACS technology over the last year, Kodak was able to showcase large-scale turnkey PACS at the RSNA meeting. Cemax-Icon launched the third generation of its AutoRad primary and clinical workstations, which are now Windows NT-based, run on high-speed storage area networks, and enable enterprise-wide access to and review of clinical images.
  • The company also debuted an upgrade to the ArchiveManager workflow management system, which now features a Java-based Web administration tool and a new high-speed jukebox. All Cemax PACS were integrated with Kodak DryView laser imaging systems, computed radiography systems, and distributed medical imaging servers and viewing software. Cemax also demonstrated a work-in-progress integrated RIS/PACS connection.
  • In teleradiology, Cemax exhibited an enhanced ClinicalAccess tertiary review system for on-call applications and enterprise-wide image and report distribution with Cemax-Icon PACS.
  • In CR developments, Kodak debuted two new systems, CR 800 and CR 900.

eMed Technologies

  • eMed emphasized its new identity and Internet-based technology services at the meeting. Sporting a vibrant purple and gold logo and booth, the Lexington, MA-based company introduced eMed.net, an Internet Web site development and hosting service designed to provide radiologists, radiology groups, and departments with a business tool to manage communications of radiology services via their own Web sites. eMed.net operates as a healthcare application service provider where users are charged a monthly subscription fee. The service includes Web site development, server software and hardware, and Web-client
  • licenses for all board-certified radiologists. eMed also introduced entre, an entry-level PACS designed for imaging centers and smaller imaging facilities. entre provides diagnostic image viewing, short- and long-term archiving, and image transmission. The basic system includes a dual-monitor Framewave diagnostic reading workstation with software for reading computed radiography, digital radiography, and cross-sectional studies; a Framewave compression server with RAID on-line storage; and an archive server with MOD archival storage.
  • In business news, eMed announced an exclusive agreement with Aware to develop and market Web-based imaging products. Through this five-year agreement, which formalizes a long-standing relationship between the two companies, eMed and Aware will develop advanced image visualization and communications products.

Emerald Archiving

  • Emerald Archiving continues to promote its data migration and archiving services. The Niceville, FL-based company is also working to establish relationships with various PACS vendors and expects to move forward with several of these in the early part of this year. The idea is to include Emerald’s services as stand-alone products or as part of the proposal process to prospective PACS customers. Emerald is already working with Canon Medical Systems and has done some site work with GE Medical Systems and Cemax-Icon.

FileLink

  • FileLink previewed version 5.0 of its FileLink medical archive software at the RSNA meeting. Enhancements to the archiving software, which provides storage and retrieval services to front-end applications in a client/server environment, include rules-based DICOM routing, store-and-forward configuration, redundant storage server option, DICOM quality control and storage commitment, and direct archive query, retrieve, and on-demand routing. The rules-based DICOM router in version 5.0 allows sites to use the archive as a distribution hub for DICOM-compliant images, according to the company. Current versions run on Windows NT; version 5.0 will also run on Windows 2000.
  • FileLink of Bloomington, MN, announced several new distribution partners at the show. New partners and others showing FileLink’s technology at RSNA include Advanced Imaging Concepts, American Medical Sales, Atlantic Digital Concepts, Aurora Technologies, B&L Medical, Cassling Diagnostic Imaging, Dynamic Healthcare Technologies, East Coast Technologies/MedTel, Freedom Imaging, Hitachi, ImageLabs, Line Imaging, medQ, Sencor, Softwerks, and Swissray.

Fischer Imaging

  • The Denver-based company highlighted the versatility of its Traumex system, which can be used for head, chest, skeletal, extremity, or trauma imaging, and can be upgraded to DR1000 or DR1000C, digital systems developed in collaboration with Hologic’s Direct Radiography Corp.
  • Fischer also displayed a work-in-progress DirectRay digital detector integrated into an x-ray table.

Fuji Medical Systems USA

  • Fuji debuted FCR 5501D, a high-end CR reader that it hopes will broaden the utility of CR. It features Fuji’s new dual-side reading capability, which combines clear base imaging plates and dual optical readers. The technique allows readers to read x-ray information from both sides at the same time.
  • The Stamford, CT-based vendor also unveiled its Speed Suite concept, which allows customers to purchase a complete turnkey digital x-ray room, according to the company. Speed Suite includes Fuji’s cassetteless CR equipment and x-ray generating equipment. Single-room or two-room arrangements are available.
  • Fuji also announced two group purchasing organization contracts. The vendor has received a three-year contract to supply its full line of CR products to Health Services Corporation of America’s member organizations. Fuji values the deal at more than $23 million. Premier has also signed a three-year, dual-source deal with Fuji. The agreement covers Fuji’s full CR line and has an estimated value of more than $80 million.
  • In the PACS arena, the company introduced a new version of its Synapse PACS, originally launched at RSNA a year ago. Synapse release 1.3.0 expands on the system’s Web-based architecture with advanced diagnostic features, including cross-sectional display capabilities and improved productivity.
  • Fuji also promoted its recently FDA-approved AON (access over networks). lossy wavelet compression algorithm that offers compression at a 20:1 ratio. It is currently being marketed as an option within Synapse and will be released at the end of the first quarter.

GE Medical Systems

  • GE emphasized the role of integration and performance in productivity and workflow and introduced the concept of distributed on-demand imaging.
  • Specific PACS products included the new PathSpeed Xtend, a technology platform designed to facilitate PC-based image access and integration. Xtend was demonstrated in conjunction with several applications, including voice recognition from Talk Technology and clinical applications (including 3-D) via Advantage Windows products.
  • GE also displayed a RIS application that enables all functions traditionally performed on a RIS terminal to be part of an integrated application on the PathSpeed workstation. The user has to log on only once and call up a patient’s name once and can then perform all necessary functions with respect to that patient’s image and information data.
  • The Waukesha, WI-based vendor also demonstrated Prism, a work-in-progress developed in conjunction with Cerner. Prism is designed to function as an integrated PACS/RIS that operates from a single application. Another work-in-progress on display was e-velocity, which enables lossless diagnostic-quality imaging via the Internet; using this compression technology, GE accessed a chest image with a standard Web browser via an intranet in less than one second.
  • Other 1999 RSNA meeting highlights for GE included the introduction of RadWorks for teleradiology and RadStore, an NT-based archive for hospitals and other healthcare providers that want smaller archives and storage subsystems. New as well were several Web-enabled administrative tools designed to improve system monitoring and maintenance.
  • The company announced an alliance with Agfa-Gevaert to market, sell, and service the Agfa Diagnostic Center compact and solo computed radiography systems.
  • In digital x-ray developments, GE debuted Revolution XR/d, a general-purpose digital x-ray table. Revolution XR/d is expected to be available in the third quarter. When ready, Revolution XR/d will join the Revolution XQ/i digital chest system in the vendor’s DR portfolio.

Hologic/DRC

  • Hologic introduced two new direct digital general radiography systems. Hologic Epex and Radex are based on DirectRay solid-state electronic and semiconductor technologies to capture x-rays. Epex is a high-end unit, while Radex is a simpler system designed for the outpatient market. Both units will be installed in clinical facilities during the second quarter.
  • The firm has also established a new organizational structure for bringing its systems to market: Hologic will design, market, and service its radiographic products, while its subsidiary, Direct Radiography Corp. (DRC), will be responsible for designing, manufacturing, and servicing DirectRay detectors. DRC will market the detectors as fully integrated Hologic radiographic systems, as a digital image capture upgrade for existing x-ray equipment sold through distributors, and as a component for OEMs.

IBM

  • IBM and several of its business partners showcased a working DIN-PACS system with archive, workflow, RIS, and diagnostic and quality-control workstations. The company believes that the system’s centralized RIS and workflow capabilities set it apart from other PACS vendors.
  • IBM also exhibited production models of several flat-panel displays it demonstrated as prototypes at the 1998 RSNA meeting. These displays range from 18- and 20-inch medium-density models that are already being supplied through various OEMs to a 28-inch high-density (5 megapixel) display that will be commercially available by midyear.
  • In business news, IBM announced a partnership with GE to deliver near-filmless radiology solutions to Department of Defense hospitals. GE’s Integrated Imaging Solutions group will provide Applicare diagnostic workstations, viewers, Web browsers, QC workstations, and services for DIN-PACS.

IDX Systems

  • Information systems vendor IDX highlighted its Imaging Suite product, a set of software modules that provide bidirectional communication between a facility’s RIS, imaging modalities, and PACS. Imaging Suite is part of IDX’s Enterprise Radiology Solution, the first phase of the Burlington, VT-based company’s strategy to develop an enterprise-wide solution for integrating multimodality medical images and information (PNN 12/99). In the coming year, the Radiology and Imaging Solutions division of IDX plans to expand beyond radiology into other hospital departments with the technology and architecture underlying IDXRad and IDX Imaging Suite.
  • In business developments, IDX has entered into an agreement with Fuji to develop integrated RIS/PACS products.

Imageon Solutions

  • Birmingham, AL-based Imageon introduced the e-CIMS Java DICOM Archive, a scalable software archiving program designed using open industry standards. It comes in three versions: a personal edition for clinics or departments, a standard edition for hospitals, and an enterprise edition for integrated delivery networks. The archive’s open architecture facilitates integration with HIS, RIS, CIS, CPR, and workflow managers and can store DICOM images from all modalities. In addition, a Web-based interface enables remote access via the Internet.

Images-on-Call

  • This Dallas-based teleradiology company introduced new versions of Images-on-Call that employ Internet connections for communications and a Web server that allows clinicians access to radiology images over the Internet.

Image Medical

  • This Palo Alto, CA-based vendor of image management products introduced version 2.1 of Practice Builder, which uses Internet technology to deliver images to radiologists and other healthcare professionals across the enterprise using low-cost PCs and industry-accepted standards, including DICOM, HL7, and TCP/IP. In addition, Image Medical’s application service provider model (imagemedical.com) is a subscription-based service that charges on a per transaction basis for image acquisition, distribution, and archiving.

Image Systems

  • In business news, Image Systems announced its acquisition of the display manufacturing division of Nortech.
  • On the product side, the Minnetonka, MN-based display company featured its new M21PHFMAX gray-scale, high-focus, 21-inch portrait display with built in microprocessor-based calibration control for 1200 x 1600 portrait applications.
  • Also showcased were their new AMLCD flat-panel displays: 15-inch with video capability, 16-inch rugged high bright (which NASA is using in the Space Station for an ultrasound application), dual-head 17-inch portrait, and 18-inch landscape. All are 24-bit color or 8-bit gray-scale displays for use in areas with space constraints and/or high ambient lighting.

Imco

  • The former U.S. subsidiary of Dutch vendor Rogan Medical Systems announced a management buyout and new name: Imco. As part of its reorganization, the Pewaukee, WI-based company is looking to expand its technology portfolio into image and workflow management and related products and services, including developing business relationships with other vendors in computed radiography and digital radiography. Imco will continue to work closely with its former parent, however.
  • In product news, Imco showcased DVD-R Jukebox, a 4.7-gigabyte archive that the vendor claims can store seven times more data than CD-R. DVD-R is a relatively new technology that is more applicable to medical imaging than DVD-ROM, according to the company; unlike standard CD and DVD technologies, it is designed not to overwrite existing records. DVD-R Jukebox is now being incorporated into the firm’s HyperArchive product.
  • Other new products and product enhancements exhibited by Imco at the show included an online archive that can grow to 1 terabyte, an upgraded user interface, and the addition of giga-Ethernet capabilities to the company’s HyperNet networking product.

InfiMed

  • InfiMed received FDA 510(k) clearance just prior to the show for its StingRay digital detector retrofit product. StingRay, which uses amorphous silicon flat-panel detector technology from Trixell, will cost approximately $200,000. InfiMed will distribute StingRay through dealers and also hopes to secure OEM channels for the retrofit.
  • A new feature set has been added to the vendor’s GoldOne R/F digital retrofit, including image auto-optimization and DICOM modality work list and print compliance.

InSite One

  • Among the new companies at the RSNA meeting was InSite One, a provider of storage and archiving services for digital medical images. The Wallingford, CT-based company’s premier outsourcing service, InDex (Internet DICOM Express), is designed to provide on-demand access to radiological images residing either locally or at a storage facility linked via the Internet or private virtual network to a hospital’s network. InDex is a fee-based (per image) service for both online and nearline storage and access and offline archiving of DICOM images. In addition to immediate online storage over the hospital’s network and permanent nearline storage offsite at InSite’s digital warehouse, a disaster recovery copy of all data is stored offsite at a third location. It is designed to work in conjunction with any PACS, HIS, or RIS but can also be used by facilities that do not yet have a PACS or have only limited PACS capabilities.
  • InDex will be available to customers in the first quarter; InSite plans to sell the product through direct sales but is also in active discussions with various PACS vendors to comarket the product.

Konica Medical Imaging

  • Konica has added Web-based technology, HIS/RIS interface, and data networking services to its NetStar PACS product line. The vendor highlighted its ability to offer customers a phased implementation approach toward PACS.
  • In CR introductions, Konica added Regius 150, a cassette-based CR reader. Regius 150 joins the Regius 330 cassetteless chest and abdominal imaging system in the Wayne, NJ-based vendor’s portfolio. It can be used in emergency rooms, critical care and trauma centers, and radiology departments, according to Konica.

Line Imaging

  • Line Imaging exhibited its WinRad Windows NT-based teleradiology product, which contains the company’s wavelet compression algorithm. New this year for the Atlanta-based company was Cine Plus, which enables a PC to be hooked up to any video device for real-time capture and streaming of fluoroscopy, ultrasound, and endoscopy video images. Using Cine Plus, video clips can be viewed at any time, even while streaming, on a standard PC with full 30-fps resolution.

Lumisys

  • Lumisys rolled out ACR-2000i, an upgraded version of the Sunnyvale, CA-based firm’s ACR-2000 DesktopCR product. The new release incorporates an integrated eraser, which allows users to automatically erase several phosphor plates without physically removing them from the system. ACR-2000i has a list price of $60,000, the same as ACR-2000, which can be upgraded to include an integrated eraser.
  • The firm also announced a servicing and financing agreement with GE Medical Systems and GE Healthcare Financial Management.

Marconi Medical Systems

  • Marconi, which changed its name from Picker International at the meeting, indicated that it’s planning an increased emphasis on and investment in its healthcare information systems operations. This growing investment by Marconi is already having an impact on the vendor’s PACS operations. At the show, Marconi highlighted PACS technology powered by asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) backbone switches from Fore Systems, which Marconi acquired in late 1999. Fore also provided the ATM infrastructure for all show exhibitors and for infoSystem, a network of more than 200 workstations available for meeting attendees.
  • The vendor also highlighted its systems integration capabilities with the debut of Conserus, an image and information management package that brings together all components of healthcare information systems, including PACS, RIS, electronic patient record software, and other products.
  • The firm has broadened its archive offerings to support advanced intelligent tape and digital video disk media.
  • Marconi also reported growing success with its fee-for-scan PACS financing option. Fifty percent of Marconi’s PACS business now takes advantage of that approach, according to the firm. Marconi’s PACS business grew by nearly 150% in 1999.

McKesson HBOC

  • Like many information systems vendors at the meeting, McKesson HBOC showcased image management offerings integrated with clinical information systems. The Alpharetta, GA-based company emphasized systems integration at the meeting through customer examples showing how all systems in an enterprise—scheduling, a master patient index, compliance checking, RIS, order entry, registration, PACS, and, on the back end, the EMR, can be linked using McKesson HBOC products. The vendor also discussed the impact of systems integration on radiology departments.
  • This demonstration included the company’s MedVision PACS, which McKesson HBOC has bundled with an EMR to create infoPACS, a single clinical data management resource and archive for patient images and information.

MedImage

  • MedImage exhibited the Galen Radiology system at this year’s RSNA meeting. Galen Radiology is an image acquisition, transmission, and review system designed to assist the physician on-call to review and report on emergency diagnostic procedures, whether located within the same building or across town. Reviewing image data on Galen is analogous to using a light box in a radiology department, according to the Ann Arbor, MI-based firm. A contact sheet allows a quick overview of what was sent. A single image can then be selected for closer examination. Once diagnosed, a simple report can be generated, complete with select images and annotations. The report can then be faxed, transmitted via a modem, printed for distribution, or posted on the Web.

Medweb

  • Medweb demonstrated a low-cost satellite service linking multiple facilities across North America, Mexico, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands. The San Francisco-based company also showcased SkyPACS, a shared online PACS product open to all MedwebSat users.

Merge Technologies

  • As a participant in the IHE initiative introduced at the RSNA meeting, Merge showcased its MergeWorks suite of image and information management applications, which includes the CaseWorks integrated diagnostic reporting tool. CaseWorks has been completely rebuilt following the company’s acquisition of Canadian workflow and information management products developer Interpra last August (PNN 9/99); Interpra’s Web architecture now serves as the infrastructure for CaseWorks. Merge has also redeveloped its information management offerings to support a modular, scalable approach for customers. The new infrastructure employs a Java-based healthcare database repository.
  • Milwaukee-based Merge believes its expertise in connectivity and systems integration has allowed it to position itself well for the growing adoption of electronic medical records and the integration of PACS and clinical information systems by healthcare institutions.
  • In business news, Merge announced a strategic alliance with Stentor that combines Stentor’s unique real-time image access capabilities with MergeWorks.

Mitra Imaging

  • Mitra introduced a next-generation PACS Broker called Connector for Radiology that leverages off of the Canadian company’s success with its PACS Broker product. Among other things, Connector links all modalities with the hospital’s HIS and PACS, merges patient and exam data with images, provides work lists to modalities, displays reports on workstations, and triggers prefetching on PACS. It also includes a Web-based results distribution system for enterprise-wide image access and transfer. The idea behind Connector is to enable an enterprise-wide patient record by creating a gateway into each department that facilitates the flow of electronic information into and out of that department, according to the company.
  • Mitra also introduced its first cardiology product, which is designed to bring together cath lab and ECG results. The company is currently developing new OEM relationships in cardiology but says it is too early to disclose those relationships.
  • In business news, Mitra announced a relationship with Medicalis, the new startup company of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Partners HealthCare System in Boston. Medicalis will specialize in medical management to improve the delivery of healthcare; Mitra will develop the software for Medicalis’ applications.

Mitsubishi Electronics America

  • Through its Real Time Visualization division, Mitsubishi introduced a second-generation 3-D imaging board for PCs and Unix workstations. The Volume Pro 500, introduced in May 1999, was the first product of its kind to bring real-time volume rendering capabilities to desktop PCs. The VolumePro 500-2X, introduced at the RSNA meeting, doubles the usable volume memory to 256 megabytes, enough to store 512 x 512 x 512 pixel volume data sets and to interpret CT, MR, and ultrasound studies in real-time. Several vendors at the RSNA meeting displayed 3-D products powered by the VolumePro, including Toshiba, Cedara, Sensor Systems, Imaging Diagnostic, Tiani, Viatronix, and TomTec.

Philips Medical Systems

  • In addition to highlighting its multimodality products, Philips emphasized the interoperability of its imaging and archiving systems at the RSNA show. As part of the IHE demonstration, Philips demonstrated integration of its Integris cardiovascular system with a third-party PACS and RIS and the Inturis for Radiology PACS with a third-party acquisition modality workstation and a third-party RIS.
  • In PACS, Philips showcased new distributed viewing and workstation capabilities. Inturis for Radiology, which incorporates technology from both Philips and its longtime partner, Sectra-Imtec, is designed to enable individually customized and workflow-optimized PACS workstations. Version 6.1, introduced at the show, is designed to enable users to make multiple queries to various databases across modalities and vendors from a single PACS workstation. It features a new user interface redesigned for better ergonomics, workflow, and user efficiency; voice-command and speech-recognition capabilities; a flat-panel monitor option; and enhanced security features, including fingerprint recognition and smart card scanners.
  • Philips also released version 3.0 of EasyWeb for enterprise-wide distribution of radiology images and reports. EasyWeb 3.0 is a Java-based package designed to speed distribution, shorten report turnaround time, and improve workflow. It can run on multiple platforms and connects to most RIS networks. New features include cine-capture capabilities and improved security through data encryption. In addition, this version of EasyWeb can be used as a Web browser for both cardiology and radiology/PACS applications.
  • Philips also debuted a work-in-progress called RIIMS, an integrated RIS/PACS application developed in conjunction with Sectra. As the RIIMS concept evolves, it will also incorporate soft-copy diagnostic capabilities on a common platform. The goal is to have the technology in place to accommodate computerized patient records.
  • As part of an expanded emphasis on systems integration and service, the Dutch vendor announced a networking agreement with Lucent Netcare, a division of Lucent Technologies. With NetCare, Philips will deliver and support networking solutions for customers who purchase its PACS products.
  • Philips also highlighted its integration capabilities for its digital x-ray products. Its Digital Diagnost digital bucky system can now be fully integrated with Philips’ CR systems, and images from Digital Diagnost and from the CR system can be viewed at the firm’s multimodality EasyVision workstation or printed together on one film.

PhorMax

  • PhorMax showcased its CRView low-cost CR system, which will have a price point of approximately $50,000. The San Francisco-based firm is preparing its 510(k) application for submission to the FDA, and expects CRView to be available by midyear.
  • Just prior to the show, PhorMax announced a multiyear contract for Agfa’s phosphor imaging plates, which will be configured for CRView.

RipTide Technologies

  • A new contender in the PACS market, RipTide introduced the Advanced Radiology Image and Information System (ARIIS) at the RSNA meeting. ARIIS is a Web-based system that combines order entry, resource scheduling, PACS, RIS, report generation, and billing. It runs on Windows NT and makes images and patient data available through customized intranet “portals.” The first installation is at Riverside Medical Center in Franklinton, LA; two additional sites are expected to come online this quarter, one at Louisiana State University Hospital in Independence, the other at University Medical Center in Lafayette, LA. RipTide is located in New Orleans.

Sectra-Imtec AB

  • Continuing its longstanding collaboration with Philips Medical Systems, this Swedish company introduced IDS5, a new diagnostic PACS workstation designed to optimize efficiency for the radiologist and new tools designed to handle large numbers of cases in a multihospital environment. These tools include dynamic work lists customized to specific user requirements based on parameters from both the RIS and the DICOM image header; default display protocols; HIPAA-compliant security tools, including individual user logins based on biometrics, smart cards, or standard security services; and integration with several voice recognition systems.

Siemens Medical Systems

  • Siemens highlighted the integration of PACS and imaging modalities with radiology and other information systems throughout the healthcare enterprise, both in its booth and as part of the IHE demonstration. The German vendor’s Medical Engineering Group created a “virtual hospital” exhibit designed to illustrate how to manage patient information inside and outside the radiology department. Imaging technologies were linked to a series of workstations showing simulated activities from the imaging equipment; for demonstration purposes, the display data was manipulated, passed to other workstations and computer screens, linked to a HIS/RIS, archived, transferred via the Internet for remote access to images, and made part of an electronic patient record.
  • As part of this emphasis on systems integration, Siemens launched Syngo, a new Windows NT-based software application platform for user interfaces, viewing, image processing, printing, and DICOM/HL7 communications. Syngo currently works in conjunction with various workstations, PACS, CT and MR scanners, and nuclear medicine products and is designed to serve as a single interface for all systems.
  • Among the company’s PACS-specific products was MagicStart, an existing miniPACS that Siemens is remarketing as an entry-level product. New to this offering is the ability to do direct archiving from the viewing stations. Other new products on display included MagicView Mondo, an NT-based reporting workstation; enhanced software for the MagicView 300 that enables a direct connection with a data archive and film digitizer; and MagicWatch, a remote monitoring service for Siemens systems developed and managed through a new relationship between Siemens and Hewlett-Packard.
  • Siemens also debuted a new version of SieNet MagicWeb, which uses commercially available Web browsers to make images and reports available at the point of care. MagicWeb has been expanded to display dynamic data such as cardio-angiographic cine data and can now be connected simultaneously to cardiology and PACS networks.
  • Working in conjunction with IDX Systems, Siemens has also developed an integrated PACS/RIS solution. (Siemens has its own RIS, called MagicSAS, but sells it only outside the U.S.) The Siemens/IDX integrated PACS/RIS uses open standards such as DICOM and HL7 and tools such as SQL rather than proprietary mechanisms to facilitate direct and bidirectional data transfer and connectivity.
  • In digital x-ray news, Siemens introduced Vertix FD, a DR system that joins the Thorax FD upright and Multix FD table flat-panel DR systems introduced at the 1998 RSNA meeting.

SMS

  • Shared Medical Systems introduced a new version of its Novius radiology management system, the company’s premier RIS product that supports PACS, medical imaging, voice recognition systems, Web-based remote access, DICOM modality work list functions, image acquisition and capture, and archiving. This latest version of Novius features improved workflow capabilities, enhanced reporting, and quality review support.
  • Malvern, PA-based SMS also highlighted its PaXway software package, which provides direct communication between DICOM-compatible modalities and the SMS radiology management system; and SMS Voiceway, an HL7-based voice dictation interface.

Softmedical

  • Softmedical introduced Paxplorer, a patent-pending PACS manager product that enables simultaneous multiple PACS access. Using an intuitive interface, healthcare professionals can retrieve and view DICOM studies and transfer them from one PACS to another. Images are displayed in full resolution, and reports can be accessed directly from the interface. An optional wavelet compression capability enables images to be transferred with a full-resolution region of interest. Paxplorer is an object-oriented software program that is written in Java and is DICOM and HL7 compliant. It is expected to be commercially available in first-quarter 2000, according to the Montreal-based company.

Stentor

  • Another new face at the RSNA meeting was Stentor, a company formed last year to commercialize dynamic transfer syntax technology developed at the University of Pittsburgh (PNN 11/99). The San Francisco-based vendor demonstrated iSite, a medical imaging browser and the first commercial product to utilize DTS and iSyntax, the real-time image transfer protocol developed from DTS. Stentor received FDA clearance to market iSite just prior to the show.
  • In business news, Stentor announced an exclusive five-year agreement with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health System and its Radiology Informatics Lab to continue to commercialize clinical prototypes developed at the lab for medical imaging. Stentor also announced a technology partnership with Merge Technologies of Milwaukee; through this agreement, Merge is incorporating iSyntax into its MergeWorks products and Stentor has adopted Merge’s DICOM technologies into its iSite image distribution servers.

StorComm

  • StorComm debuted version 4.0 of its ImageAccess clinical image management system, which is scheduled for release in the first quarter. New features of the Window NT-based system include an enhanced user interface, additional functionality tools, and improved workflow capabilities. With ImageAccess 4.0, users can now simultaneously query multiple DICOM devices, such as a miniPACS storage server and a CT device, as well as the ImageAccess server, and receive a consolidated answer set that provides a complete overview of the patient.
  • ImageAccess 4.0 also includes several new products introduced by Jacksonville, FL-based StorComm at the RSNA meeting. MedChat is a remote consultation product that allows physicians to consult with one another while simultaneously viewing the same image from two different computers at two different sites. ImageWeb is a Web access product that has been enhanced to support multiple functionality; new features include wavelet compression for Windows-based browsers.
  • StorComm demonstrated its CIMS integration capabilities at the RSNA meeting by linking multiple ImageAccess servers via the RSNA network. Servers were connected to Swissray’s ddR systems in the Swissray booth and to a primary-read, multimodality workstation in Hitachi’s booth.

Swissray International

  • Swissray expanded its DR product line with the introduction of ddRChest-System and ddRCombi, a unit aimed at emergency room/trauma centers. Both systems employ Swissray’s ddR-Bucky CCD-based digital detector. ddRChest-System will begin shipping in the second quarter of 2000 and will have a price range of $360,000 to $375,000. ddRCombi will ship in either the second or third quarter and will have a price range of $350,000 to $650,000.
  • In its Information Solutions division, Swissray continues to serve as a systems integrator. The Gig Harbor, WA-based division maintains consulting relationships with Data General, Hitachi Medical Systems, McKesson HBOC, and StorComm. The firm has also announced that it will offer LizardTech’s MrSID image distribution technology. Swissray also continues to offer entry-level archives from FileLink.

Toshiba America Medical Systems

  • Toshiba launched its new line of multimodality miniPACS products at the show. Using technology developed by Impax, the joint technology venture between Agfa and Mitra, simPACS serves as a Windows NT-based technology platform that is customized for use in each modality with extensions specific to each modality. simPACS is meant to broaden Tustin, CA-based Toshiba’s presence in the PACS field by adding an entry-level system to its already established enterprise-wide PACS business through PACS partner Agfa.
  • The company also introduced a new DVD jukebox that sells for $120,000 to $200,000, depending on the size and configuration.
  • Toshiba changed the name of last year’s Symphony 1000, a radiographic and R/F digital equipment package using Agfa’s CR technology, to the Alliance 1000.
  • The vendor also discussed work under development with an amorphous selenium flat-panel detector, touting the direct conversion benefits of the technology. Toshiba’s detector converts x-rays directly to an electrical charge, which is then digitized; some other DR systems convert first to light and then to a charge. Dynamic vascular studies were demonstrated. The detector will be capable of both dynamic and static imaging, according to the firm. Toshiba estimates the detector is three years away from commercialization.

Trixell

  • Trixell announced that it has begun production of its Pixium 4600 digital x-ray detector, the first digital x-ray detector produced by the digital x-ray conglomerate. Volume production will begin early in 2000. Trixell’s production site in Moirans, France, was designed to manufacture up to 5000 units per year.

Varian Medical Systems

  • Varian expanded its amorphous silicon flat-panel detector offerings with PaxScan 4030, a 40 x 30-cm panel targeted for digital radiographic applications. Another introduction, PaxScan 2520, is available in several configurations for interfacing with many x-ray imaging systems, according to Varian.

Vidar

  • Vidar promoted an issue the company has been publicizing for some time: whether laser technology is superior to CCD technology for film digitizing. The question is central to Vidar, whose digitizers feature the Herndon, VA-based company’s proprietary high-definition CCDs and whose competitors claim laser digitizers are superior. Vidar conducted a preference study among radiologists who stopped by their booth, showing them 2800 pairs of side-by-side images (laser vs. CCD generated). Of the 170 radiologists who participated in the blind study, the responses showed there was not significant preference for one type of image over the other, according to the company.
  • On the product side, Vidar debuted the Sierra wall-mounted film digitizer. This low-cost (under $10,000) system is designed as an entry-level product for offices, clinics, and small hospitals. It is expected to be in full production by May.

Vital Images

  • Vital Images launched Vitrea 2, the next generation of its Vitrea 2-D/3-D visualization and image-analysis software. Vitrea 2 is designed to run on both Windows NT and Silicon Graphics’ Unix O2 and is the company’s first PC-compatible 3-D product (PNN 12/99).
  • In business news, the Minneapolis-based vendor announced a cooperative marketing agreement with ALI Technologies; under the agreement, the two companies will jointly market Vital Images’ diagnostic 2-D and 3-D visualization and analysis software, including Vitrea 2, and ALI’s image management and networking products.

Voxar

  • Voxar debuted its new Plug’n View 3D software product, a low-cost ($5000) 3-D visualization package designed to bring 3-D imaging to the desktop (PNN 12/99). Plug-n View provides a range of 2-D and 3-D image-viewing capabilities to PCs equipped with a standard Pentium II or III processor and can even handle multislice images and real-time volume rendering. Voxar plans to sell Plug’n View 3D, which already has FDA clearance, through resellers that will market stand-alone versions of the software. The Edinburgh, Scotland-based company also hopes to develop relationships with PACS vendors who will integrate Plug’n View 3D into their workstation software; two vendors, DR Systems and MarkCare Medical Systems, displayed Plug’n View 3D as an integrated component of their products at the meeting.

Wam!Net Medical

  • Wam!Net showcased its Wam!Base DICOM Archive, which is currently undergoing review at seven beta sites. The Minneapolis-based company’s long-term off-site digital-image storage service, designed to work in conjunction with any DICOM-compliant PACS, should be commercially available in the first quarter, according to the company.

© 2000 Miller Freeman, Inc., a United News & Media company.