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Merge prepares to roll out integrated RIS/PACS


Focus stays on midsize and smaller facilitiesOn the heels of record financial performance in fiscal 2003, Merge eFilm has announced plans to roll out this spring its Fusion RIS/PACS. The scalable IT system unifies RIS, PACS,

Focus stays on midsize and smaller facilities

On the heels of record financial performance in fiscal 2003, Merge eFilm has announced plans to roll out this spring its Fusion RIS/PACS. The scalable IT system unifies RIS, PACS, dictation, and billing in a single desktop solution.

The product, touted as offering an intelligent, distributed workflow that can accelerate productivity, has been in the works for nearly a year. It combines the radiology information system formerly offered by RIS Logic with the Fusion PACS developed by Merge. The effort to integrate the two technologies began even before Milwaukee-based Merge acquired RIS Logic, a privately held RIS developer, in August.

The integrated technology will first be installed at two to four high-profile medical centers. General deliveries will follow these installations. They could begin as early as May, according to Tim Kulbago, vice president of product innovation.

"We've combined a high-quality RIS system with a high-quality, well-distributed PACS," he said. "We've put them together to solve one of the hardest problems facing radiology: how to accelerate the productivity of your scarcest resource-radiologists. This is a solution for truly enhancing the productivity of a radiology practice."

Marketing efforts will focus primarily on imaging centers, as well as small and medium-sized hospitals. The company began revamping its marketing program after the acquisition of RIS Logic with the new Fusion RIS/PACS product in mind, said Christy Boehm, director of product marketing.

Fusion RIS/PACS combines business and clinical workflow into a unified desktop that allows radiologists to quickly access images and information. By utilizing the flexibility of image streaming and multiple routing processes to distribute images, the system can quickly get the correct study to the appropriate radiologist, while optimizing bandwidth and image storage, according to company executives.

Other features include single-desktop integration for RIS/PACS workflow, including embedded digital dictation and document management, RIS-to-PACS association, home page customization with job-specific work lists, distributed workflow to run across multiple locations, patient exam and activity tracking, a diagnostic workstation for imaging visualization, an image server, and an archive.

"When you bring everything into a single solution it scales well," Kulbago said. "It can be quite expensive for a smaller volume client to buy a PACS, a RIS, a dictation system, and a billing system separately."

Boehm identified GE Medical Systems, with its Centricity RIS/PACS, as a key competitor. Others include Siemens Medical Solutions and, perhaps, Vital Works.

Company executives hope to build on an already bright financial picture. Revenues increased 26% in the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, and 38% for the year compared with corresponding periods a year ago. Net income rose 48% for the quarter and 72% for the year. Revenues were $8.5 million for the quarter and $28.7 million for the year. Net income was $1.9 million for the quarter and $6.2 million for the year. The results followed record revenues and earnings for the third quarter and record earnings for the second quarter.

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