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PACS' influence spreads rapidly to cardiology

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The digital influence of PACS can be found more and more in cardiology, where it's beginning to change the way cardiologists run their practice. Cardiologists see cardiac MRI, for instance, playing a major role over the next five years, according to a

The digital influence of PACS can be found more and more in cardiology, where it's beginning to change the way cardiologists run their practice.

Cardiologists see cardiac MRI, for instance, playing a major role over the next five years, according to a survey taken of cardiologists attending last month's American College of Cardiology meeting. This, in turn, will push the need for more sophisticated digital image management tools.

The survey affirms what imaging manufacturers have already anticipated.

"The strong prediction regarding cardiac MRI supports the detailed research that has gone into new imaging technologies," said John Steidley, Ph.D., vice president of the Cardiovascular Business Group for Philips Medical Systems North America. "The most important thing we can do as imaging manufacturers is to make sure we customize our product offerings to meet cardiologists' exacting needs."

PACS vendors are already allocating generous resources to digital cardiology systems. Philips, for example, has introduced the Intera CV, a dedicated cardiovascular MR offering what Philips calls interactive, real-time imaging. With this system, cardiologists can change contrast and geometry parameters on the fly and see the resulting images in real-time.

Other new PACS solutions include Agfa's Impax for Cardiology, a digital solution designed for cardiologists by cardiologists. The system, which has completed field trials, offers on-demand, multiple-modality access to images, data, analyses, and reports from any workstation. It can compare and contrast cardiac information with CT, MR, and CR studies.

The first digital cardiology application service provider (ASP) has also appeared. CardioNow, a two-year-old healthcare information technology company based in Daly City, CA, offers hospitals an Internet-based, outsourced solution for managing cardiology images, relieving them of the burden and expense of managing cardiology images while at the same time providing cardiologists with the on-demand access to images they desire.

"This service can help reduce the time gap between when images and data are generated at an investigative site and when they are sent to, logged, and analyzed by the core lab," said Dr. Jeffrey Popma, director of the catheterization laboratory at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "This productivity improvement promises to translate into faster, more efficient, and less costly clinical trials, since data collection and analysis has been a primary bottleneck in the investigative process."

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