PACS vendors learn to watch their language

June 24, 2002

Digital medicine may be new to many domestic radiologists, but radiologists practicing in countries like Iran can find PACS-related technologies virtually alien. The fact that most PACS workstations are designed by English speakers for English speakers

Digital medicine may be new to many domestic radiologists, but radiologists practicing in countries like Iran can find PACS-related technologies virtually alien. The fact that most PACS workstations are designed by English speakers for English speakers only complicates matters. The language barrier can seriously affect technology adoption in offshore radiology departments.

PACS equipment exported to foreign hospitals often needs special considerations. One hospital in Tehran has configured a PC-based PACS display workstation with a language-transparent interface, the first radiology image processing software developed in Iran.

"We have designed the PACS workstations to be language transparent, meaning the interfaces such as menus, dialogue boxes, and especially its database are programmed to speak either English or Persian (Farsi)," said Bahman Tahayori, of the bioelectrical engineering department at the University of Tehran in Iran. "That can be useful for Iranian radiologists. The user can choose either English or Farsi interface language."

Localization has not been a top priority among PACS vendors, although some marketers are beginning to respond to these unique requirements. Philips is one company paying special attention to local possibilities.

"We see more and more pressure, especially in the European Union, to implement user interfaces and user manuals in local language," said Rob van der Ploeg, Philips' marketing manager for radiology IT.

He listed ways that Philips PACS now supports local languages:

?The workstation user interfaces and online help files can be translated in any language, independent of the product release cycle. Even in products already delivered, the graphics user interface and user manuals can be adapted on the fly.
?The system supports user preferences such that clinicians who have different native tongues and work on the same systems are presented with their preferred languages.
?Translations are achieved by certified translation agencies and always validated for medical terminology.


Tahayori's workstation software, called Persian Medical Display Software (PMDS), is built on a Windows 2000 platform in Visual C++ using Microsoft Foundation Class libraries.

"The architecture of the software is composed of three layers, including interface layer, libraries layer, and operating system layer," Tahayori said.

Version 1.0 of PMDS supports several image formats, including DICOM, patient folder management, memory management, and a variety of image processing functions with user friendly interfaces, he said.