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PACS vendors set sights on referring physicians at RSNA


The first year of the new millennium has been a profitable one for the PACS industry. Nearly every vendor is reporting strong and even record increases in sales and installations, and we haven't even been to Chicago yet.The annual RSNA

The first year of the new millennium has been a profitable one for the PACS industry. Nearly every vendor is reporting strong and even record increases in sales and installations, and we haven't even been to Chicago yet.

The annual RSNA meeting presents diagnostic imaging vendors with the largest opportunity to woo their target market, and this year should be no exception. The difference for PACS vendors, however, is that their audience has begun to change.

No longer content with the hospital enterprise market, PACS vendors are turning to the Internet to tap into a new and much larger customer base: referring physicians (see related story, page 2). Advances in Internet technologies are making wide area image distribution more practical and affordable. Digital diagnostic images have become an accepted, and even expected, component of patient records and physician workflow outside the radiology department and beyond the hospital walls, thanks to off-the-shelf personal computers, Web-based browsers, and standard phone lines.

Several companies at the RSNA meeting are gearing their products and presentations to the referring physician market, with emphasis on the role of the Internet in facilitating relationships with radiologists. Some vendors also see patients joining in the electronic loop, and several are planning to position their products as components of the integrated electronic medical record.

Security represents a huge, and potentially lucrative, subset of medicine's migration to the Internet, especially with the implementation of HIPAA only a year and a half away. The consensus among PACS vendors is that HIPAA offers a large opportunity for off-site image archiving, especially as a disaster recovery and redundancy tool.

Application service providers will also be a hot topic on the show floor. Nearly every major imaging and PACS vendor is involved in some sort of ASP offering or partnership, and several new alliances will be announced during the meeting.

Among specific vendor and product developments, ALI will demonstrate new 3-D viewing tools and live video streaming, including enhancements to its UltraPACS image review software. ALI will also debut a mobile image capture system and ALI UltraPACS AnyWare, a remote review workstation with the same tools as a standard PACS workstation.

Agfa will show enhancements to the Impax architecture, including Web-based capabilities that give clinical and administrative staff access to images, reports, and RIS scheduling; and embedded RIS and voice recognition. New products include the company's first ASP solution, the Impax orthopedic planning station, and the Integrated Cardiology workstation.

Algotec will emphasize how advanced imaging techniques and other Internet-based tools can be used to help radiologists turn diagnostic data into more meaningful information for referring physicians. MediSurf version 4 will include new tools to enable physicians to manipulate and review 3-D reconstruction from a standard Web browser. New products include Medimail, which takes a signed radiology report and automatically sends it to the referring physician via e-mail.

Avreo (formerly Riptide Technologies) will again show its ARIIS enterprise image distribution software package, introduced last year. Avreo will also introduce a new Web browser-based viewer with natural language processing capabilities (see news briefs, page 3).

Cedara is showcasing VR Reach, which provides bidirectional access to relevant radiology images and reports from a Web browser, either within the enterprise or remotely via the ASP model. The company will also introduce VR 4.0, the next generation of its viewing and reporting workstation, as well as enhancements to the IAP platform.

DeJarnette will demonstrate its Radiance PACS, positioning Radiance as a value PACS that uses off-the-shelf hardware and Windows NT. Viewers will be able to see how HL7 data are connected into the RIS, and how that information is used when the DICOM image is captured. Radiance's new voice features will also be featured, along with the new ImageShare LQC-half film digitizer and half computed radiography device-that costs less than $100,000.

EMC, a data storage vendor, exhibits for the first time at the meeting. Having acquired Data General last year, EMC has turned its focus away from PACS. Instead, EMC will tout its ability to connect to a variety of server platforms and operating systems and facilitate the integration, sharing, and management of information, regardless of the source.

eMed Technologies plans to spotlight its eMed.net ASP, focusing on the portal's role in getting images and reports out to referring physicians and as a daily tool connecting referring physicians and radiologists. eMed will show how its in-house image management offering works with the referring physician's Web-based tool.

Fuji Medical will show Synapse 2.0, the next generation of its Web-enabled PACS. It can accommodate multiple databases in an enterprise with secured log-ins that control access to different facilities within an enterprise. Synapse 2.0 enables a network of facilities to share information despite different HIS/RIS systems and reading groups.

IDX will demonstrate its Web-based RIS, IDXrad, and will also announce a partnership with Talk Technologies for voice recognition and a strategic alliance with Stentor (see related story, page 2).

InSite One has a total PACS solution that complements its InDex online archive through strategic partnerships. The PACS offering includes the front-end DICOM workstation from Aurora Technology and Aurora's DeskView image viewing software. The PACS will be offered through an ASP model, using pay-per-study pricing.

Marconi Medical will demonstrate a variety of enterprise workflow solutions, including diagnostic and clinical workstations, Web-based results distribution, high-speed networks, workflow managers, and archives. Marconi will also show new flat-panel diagnostic-quality monitors and expects to announce several partnerships designed to expand its PACS business through ASP solutions.

Philips will announce several partnerships designed to support its new ASP model for PACS (see related story, page 1). Philips will also introduce Inturis for the Enterprise, the latest addition to its radiology and cardiology Inturis product line. The version includes an image storage back end and an image display front end that integrate cardiology and radiology images on a single workstation.

RealTimeImage will show several working versions of iPACS, at its own booth and at partner booths including Kodak, InSite One, and MedSpecialists. iPACS Classic handles streaming of diagnostic-quality DICOM images from an archive to a computer via the Web. iPACS SMI (streaming module interface) is the processing engine behind iPACS, which is available to companies that want to integrate RTI's technology into their products. Mega iPACS is a networked version of iPACS.

Siemens will plug the integration of its product line with that of Shared Medical Systems, acquired earlier this year. This integration includes Web-based access to PACS and remote archiving of image studies through an ASP model. Siemens will also exhibit the Magic Start PACS line, intended for the community hospital market. The company will show connectivity between PACS and SMS's Lifetime Clinical Record and other EPR products, and between PACS and available voice technologies.

Stentor will introduce the latest version of its iSite, an image distribution system based on iSyntax technology, which allows users to access and view data on standard PCs via intranets or the Internet. For quality control, the system maintains a real-time connection to Stentor's quality engineering center.

StorComm is launching several new products that look toward an integrated clinical data repository and electronic medical record, including the ability to scan in documents tied to a patient's exam. The firm is also introducing Image Access Real-Time Monitoring, which allows radiologists to look at exams while they are under way; and Image Access MedChat, which lets users consult in real-time over a LAN or the Internet. StorComm is also taking its imaging expertise to other disciplines.

Voxar will debut an upgrade of Plug'n View 3-D, giving radiologists and clinicians PC-based access to 3-D visualization. Version 3.0 includes improvements to DICOM connectivity, with support for CR, DR, and SC images as well as CT and MR studies.

© 2000 Miller Freeman Inc.
11/29/00, Issue # 117, page 3.

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