Loral prepares for PACS prime time

October 20, 1993

Loral Aerospace is one of the heaviest hitters in the picturearchiving and communications market, but the company has yet tostep up to the plate and demonstrate its ability at a major radiologymeeting. That's about to change. Loral plans to show its

Loral Aerospace is one of the heaviest hitters in the picturearchiving and communications market, but the company has yet tostep up to the plate and demonstrate its ability at a major radiologymeeting.

That's about to change. Loral plans to show its wares to theradiology community for the first time at this year's RadiologicalSociety of North America conference. The display will be partof a major effort to market its large-scale PACS solution, accordingto Wayne Sebera, director of medical programs at Loral WesternDevelopment Labs of San Jose, Loral's PACS business unit.

Working with partner Siemens Gammasonics, Loral is the primecontractor on the medical diagnostic imaging support (MDIS) project,a massive effort to provide comprehensive PACS to U.S. Army andAir Force hospitals (SCAN 1/29/92). Siemens provides Apple Macintosh-basedLiteBox workstations, while Loral's contribution includes a centralimage storage and file handling system.

Organizational changes at partner Siemens, in which the multimodalityvendor brought business units like Gammasonics under the aegisof Siemens Medical Systems in the U.S. (SCAN 9/16/93), have notdramatically affected its work with Loral, according to Sebera.If anything, Gammasonics has been given more autonomy and hasimproved its focus on PACS, he said.

While work on MDIS has proceeded apace, it has contributedto the impression that large-scale PACS implementation is onlypossible with spendthrift government customers like Uncle Sam.Loral's work on projects other than MDIS disproves that myth,according to Sebera.

Loral and Siemens Gammasonics have cooperated at 22 other PACSsites around the world, and Loral is prepared to show that full-scalePACS is ready for the private sector.

"The purpose of our exhibiting at the show is to makea statement to the industry that we are providing commercial aswell as government solutions," Sebera said. "Part ofour message is to spread that word and be available."

Loral's 50 x 50-foot RSNA booth will feature an operating PACsystem, with workstations and storage units identical to thoseused in Loral's MDIS and commercial projects, according to JosephLucchesi, marketing manager. The booth will have six display stationsand two input stations for patient data.

Visitors to Loral's booth will be able to access images fromthe infoRAD exhibit of ACR-NEMA's digital imaging and communicationsin medicine (DICOM) standard for vendor connectivity, Lucchesisaid. Teleradiology links will be set up to enable vendors totransfer images from infoRAD to booths in the technical exhibitone floor above.

"We will be able to show people practically any imagethey want any time in less than five seconds," Lucchesi said.

In addition, representatives from the U.S. military will beat the infoRAD exhibit, using Loral equipment to send and receiveimages via a T1 link from Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma,WA, the military's showcase PACS hospital.

Loral has added sales and marketing personnel and plans tostart pounding the pavement to drum up commercial sales, bothin the U.S. and abroad. Loral is one of several vendors vyingfor a PACS contract with HMO Kaiser Foundation Hospitals (SCAN8/25/93).

While increased cost-consciousness on the part of purchasershas caused some vendors to scale back their plans to focus onbite-size subPACS systems, Loral continues to set its sights onfull-scale PACS implementations.

"Our distinction from our competitors is that we startedwith the concept of full-hospital PACS," Lucchesi said. "Wehave demonstrated full-hospital PAC systems. Most of our competitorsare trying to get to the point where they can automate a fullhospital."

BRIEFLY NOTED:

  • Acoustic Imaging and parent Dornier Medizintechnik ofGermany teamed up this month with Kontron Instruments Group forthe distribution of AI ultrasound equipment in Germany, France,Spain and Italy. Kontron's ultrasound division based in Montigny,France, operates a 500-employee ultrasound sales and service groupin Europe.

Kontron will work directly with AI engineering in Phoenix toensure that the ultrasound equipment meets relevant European operatingrequirements. Dornier will continue to sell the equipment in otherEuropean markets and the Middle East. AI sells directly in theU.S. and through distributors in Canada, Japan, Australia, NewZealand, Indonesia, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Hong Kong.

  • Polaroid chose Digital Equipment (DEC) this month to providetechnical service and support for its Helios medical laser camerain some European markets. Helios will start shipping in Europebefore the end of the year, Polaroid said. DEC will install andsupport Helios in Germany, France, Italy and the U.K., with possibleextension to other European markets next year.