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PACS vendors push integration and workflow at RSNA


PACS vendors push integration and workflow at RSNAScalability and multimodality capabilities reflect industry’s maturityThe PACS market continues to plug along, despite Y2K worries bogging down large-scale purchases and installations

PACS vendors push integration and workflow at RSNA

Scalability and multimodality capabilities reflect industry’s maturity

The PACS market continues to plug along, despite Y2K worries bogging down large-scale purchases and installations through the second half of the year (PNN 10/99). Once the crisis passes, most PACS industry watchers believe purchasing will boom again in the coming year, driven by favorable market dynamics and the evolution of the technology.

As healthcare facilities show interest in taking advantage of the benefits of integrated image and information management systems, vendors are gearing up to meet expected demand. Because of the complex integration requirements for this new era, company participation in the joint RSNA and Healthcare Information Management Systems Society initiative, called “Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise,” is expected to be strong. Most vendors participating in this sector will highlight their products’ systems-integration and multimodality capabilities at the RSNA meeting. Many firms have reported dramatic increases in requests for proposals for enterprisewide PACS installations.

Many vendors also continue to add workflow improvements to their technology, seeking to mine even more efficiency gains from PACS. Such technology trends as the World Wide Web and Java protocols will be much in evidence again at this year’s meeting. Initial uses of Web technology in digital image management have focused on providing low-cost dissemination of images and reports to referring physicians, but Web-based PACS architecture has become more prevalent, particularly among smaller firms and newcomers to the market. Several vendors are also devoting R&D resources to improving the scalability of their product lines.

Among specific vendor developments, Acuson will spotlight KinetDx, a new ultrasound miniPACS that offers a number of new features, including support for dynamic images (PNN 5/99).

Agfa will focus on PACS plus RIS functionality with an upgrade to its 4.0 Impax system. In addition, the firm will highlight a new low-cost, entry-level PACS product designed to enable customers to scale up to enterprisewide PACS.

Algotec will debut a number of additions and enhancements to its ImagiNet product line, including MediPrime, an integrated radiology reading and reporting station. Algotec will also show D-Route smart agents for its MediFlow suite of data and workflow management tools.

ALI is introducing a multimodality Windows NT workstation geared toward CT and MR that complements its UltraPACS. ALI will also debut DataStore, an enterprisewide scalable data repository designed to serve all multisite, multimodality image archiving needs.

Canon will add several new features to its PACS, including distributed network and multimodality capabilities; scalable UNIX-based architecture; workflow management for integrated RIS/PACS; and VirtualRad, a Web-based teleradiology server.

Cedara Software, formerly ISG Technologies, will highlight its name change at the meeting. On the product side, the company will feature version 3.5 of its VR viewing and reporting software. It will also co-exhibit some products with ADAC Laboratories.

Cemax-Icon, which will be in the Kodak booth, plans to launch its new AutoRad Windows NT viewing stations, which run on high-speed storage area networks (SANs) and enable enterprisewide access to and review of clinical images. Cemax will also display its ArchiveManager archival and workflow management product and a live RIS-to-PACS integrated connection.

Data General plans to showcase advanced image distribution capabilities using a new scalable architecture. The firm will also highlight Swissray’s ddR Multi-System.

This year’s RSNA meeting marks the official introduction of Radiance, DeJarnette’s first turnkey PACS, which was shown as a works-in-progress last year. Radiance includes the 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.

DR Systems will exhibit an expanded version of its DR Reporter digital dictation system and unveil a works-in-progress interactive 3-D reconstruction package for its Dominator primary reading station and an NT-based version of Dominator. The firm will also show Communicator, an intranet server that enables imaging exams to be viewed via the Internet or a private intranet using a standard browser or Web Ambassador, a new version of Ambassador.

Dynamic will highlight its PACSPlus and RadPlus RIS offerings, which have been further integrated. The firm’s Web-based viewer, WebSight, will be shown fully integrated with RadPlus.

eMed Technologies (formerly Access Radiology) is targeting RSNA as a prime venue for launching its new identity. The company will debut a new service designed to help radiologists, radiology groups, and radiology departments create their own co-branded Web sites.

Fuji will showcase Synapse PACS, introduced at last year’s RSNA. Fuji plans to announce some additional sites that have purchased Synapse, a new pilot site in Japan, and expansions at several other pilot sites. Fuji will also demonstrate its new image-compression software.

Leveraging off its acquisition of Applicare Medical Imaging in May, GE plans to demonstrate the latest release of Applicare’s RadWorks software. GE will also highlight an upgrade to its PathSpeed software and demonstrate an integrated RIS/PathSpeed product. Applicare will demonstrate a range of new technologies, including a version of RadWorks that runs on Microsoft’s Windows NT 2000 operating system and RadStore, an NT-based archive package.

IDX Systems will highlight its Imaging Suite product, a set of software modules that provides bidirectional communication between RIS, imaging modalities, and PACS.

Teleradiology vendor Images-On-Call will introduce a new version of Images-on-Call that employs Internet connections for communications and a Web server that allows clinicians access to radiology images over the Internet.

Medweb will feature a low-cost satellite service to link multiple facilities across North America, Mexico, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands. The company will also showcase SkyPACS, a shared online PACS product open to all MedwebSat users.

Merge Technologies has completely rebuilt its CaseWorks digital image management tool following the acquisition of Interpra Medical Imaging Network in 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 building block approach.

Philips Medical plans to introduce several workstation upgrades as well as release 6.1 of its EasyPACS software, which includes several workstation improvements. Other new products include wall-mounted, speech-driven flat-panel monitors; a new release of the EasyVision modality-cluster workstation and software; and version 3.0 of EasyWeb, which uses Web-based technology to distribute images to remote locations.

Picker plans to display enhanced versions of JPACS/Results, which distributes key images merged with clinical reports; JPACS/Remote, a teleradiology software product; and RadWorks 5.0 (from Applicare). The company will also demonstrate image routing to and from its Intelli-Store archive and workflow management product.

Rogan will highlight its DVD-R archive system, which can store seven times more data than CD-R archives, according to the company. Rogan shipped its first DVD-R-based PACS in September.

Siemens plans to highlight the integration of PACS in the healthcare enterprise. Existing products will feature expanded functionality, and several new products for image acquisition, storage, viewing, and communication will be introduced. Siemens will also demonstrate an integrated radiology/cardiology PACS application.

Shared Medical Systems will highlight PaXway, a software package that provides direct communication between DICOM-compatible modalities and the SMS radiology management system. Enhancements to the company’s Novius RIS will also be shown.

StorComm will debut version 4.0 of the ImageAccess clinical image management system. The company’s ImageWeb, a Web-based access product, has also been enhanced to support multiple functionalities for the client software, and now includes Java-based systems and wavelet compression capabilities.

More coverage of the RSNA meeting will be included in our special 12-page January issue.

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