PACS vendors target work flow for product line enhancements

January 7, 1999

PACS exhibits were among the most heavily attended at the 1998 meeting, as digital image and information management technology again generated much interest among attendees. Vendors at the RSNA show tended to highlight the work-flow capabilities of their

PACS exhibits were among the most heavily attended at the 1998 meeting, as digital image and information management technology again generated much interest among attendees. Vendors at the RSNA show tended to highlight the work-flow capabilities of their systems, and especially their integration efforts with other healthcare information systems.

In technology developments, several of the leading players showed Java- and Web-based systems, as customers look for low-cost, platform-independent means of distributing radiology images and reports to referring physicians. Flat-panel displays also began appearing in force, and DVD archives drew attention as a high-capacity storage medium. Speech recognition capability has also been integrated into the offerings of most PACS companies.

The use of Windows NT, a trend seen at the 1997 meeting, was again in evidence, as NT-based systems took prime positions in most booths. The Microsoft platform is now clearly the workstation operating system of choice for PACS purchasers.

For comprehensive, vendor-by-vendor coverage of PACS companies at the meeting, please see the January issue of our sister publication, PACS & Networking News.

Access Radiology

  • This teleradiology firm highlighted its recent acquisition of EMED from Raytheon (SCAN 12/16/98).
  • In technology developments, the Lexington, MA-based company’s Framewave Web offering was installed at two beta sites in December, with one more planned in January. General market availability is expected in the first quarter of 1999 for the product, which allows clinicians to review images using a Web browser and wavelet compression schemes. Food and Drug Administration 510(k) clearance was obtained in December.
  • Access has moved Framewave Compression Server to the Windows NT platform, and has added more robust and flexible autorouting features, according to the firm.

Agfa Medical

  • Agfa highlighted Release 4 of its Impax PACS offering. The new version will be available in mid-1999 and includes a number of new features, such as a Windows NT-based workstation package. Release 4 will also run in a Sun Solaris environment, and the servers will continue to run on Sun Solaris for the foreseeable future, according to Agfa.
  • Other Release 4 high points include an on-demand image retrieval feature that has been added to the product’ s prefetching and autorouting capabilities. A number of other options will also be available, including voice recognition software from Talk Technology, an MPR/MIP application, and integration with Cerner’ s radiology information system. In addition, specialized workstations will be available for environments such as the intensive care unit, ultrasound department, orthopedic department, and surgery.
  • The Ridgefield Park, NJ-based company has also renewed its PACS software development relationship with partner Mitra Imaging.

Applicare Medical Imaging

  • The Dutch PACS software developer highlighted version 4.0 of its RadWorks workstation package. The new release includes new features such as configurable hanging protocols and the ability to send selected images to referring physicians, according to the company. DICOM worklist management support has been added as part of RadWorks 4.0.
  • Applicare displayed a Windows NT software-only archive offering as a work-in-progress. Controlled through a Web interface, the software was shown running a DLT archive, although it can also support CD-ROM. Availability is expected in the third quarter of 1999.

DeJarnette Research Systems

  • DeJarnette completed its evolution to a full-line PACS company with the introduction of Radiance, the company’ s PACS product line. Radiance includes a number of new offerings, including MediShare IQ, a database manager and HIS/RIS interface, and NetShare IQ, which connects modalities to DICOM networks. A long-term DLT archive from StorageTek has also been added as part of Radiance.
  • Prior to the meeting, DeJarnette announced an alliance with RIS firm Swearingen Software. DeJarnette and Houston-based Swearingen will jointly offer each other’ s products as a complementary RIS/PACS offering, according to the company. R&D staffs at both companies will also work together on development of an integrated RIS/PACS product, according to the Towson, MD-based firm.

DR Systems

  • DR Systems debuted a Windows NT-based version of its Dominator workstation software. The new version also includes voice recognition capability and can support two to four monitors.
  • The San Diego-based company also debuted DR Communicator, which allows referring physicians to gain secure remote access to medical images, reports, and digital voice files. It is available as part of the firm’s latest release of DR Web Ambassador, its Web-based image distribution offering.

Eastman Kodak

  • Kodak has incorporated Applicare’s RadWorks 4.0 workstation release into its offerings. In addition to the RadWorks capabilities, Kodak has added some display enhancement features, including look-up tables and grid filters. The company also displayed work-in-progress efforts towards the integration of speech recognition for report dictation.
  • Kodak rolled out its Web-based server and Web viewing software. The offerings allow clinicians and referring physicians access to images and reports from non-DICOM PCs, Macintosh computers, and Unix workstations, according to the company.
  • The firm’s Medical Image Manager 100 allows capture of non-DICOM, gray-scale video or digital signals, and routing to DICOM-compliant workstations and archives.
  • Three new archive software modules have improved the archive library’s flexibility and performance, adding features such as new image compression options and a new work-flow module.

Fuji Medical Systems USA

  • The first beta site of Fuji’s Synapse PACS line is up and running at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, CT, and Fuji plans to install three pilot sites in the first quarter, according to the company. Commercial installations should begin shortly thereafter.
  • At its RSNA booth, Fuji emphasized the high level of integration between Synapse and the Internet. The company has integrated Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser into the viewing software, with the browser serving as the desktop interface. This design provides physicians with a familiar and easy-to-use interface, according to the firm. Imaging studies are stored on a server and are accessed via the Web. Fuji also highlighted Synapse’s use of off-the-shelf components, such as Windows NT workstations and Oracle database management software.

GE Medical Systems

  • GE has renamed its PACS product line PathSpeed, which includes the Milwaukee-based vendor’s new line of Windows NT-based diagnostic and clinical review workstations. GE received clearance for that line in August. The workstations include a number of features, such as customized display preferences, image cross-referencing, and multiplanar localization, according to the company.
  • CompressXPress, a 3:1 lossless Huffman encoding compression algorithm, has been added to provide faster network speed and increased storage capacity, according to GE. Enterprise View, a database option on the PathSpeed Information Management System, provides scalability and redundancy support for distributed short-term archiving across an enterprise, according to the vendor. In addition, a single radiologist worklist across multiple hospitals can be maintained.
  • WebLink 2.0 was also introduced. The new release incorporates basic image processing and viewing tools such as widow/level, magnifying glass, flip, and mirror, according to GE. Lossy wavelet and JPEG compression schemes are available on WebLink 2.0, as are integrated display of images and reports.

Imation Cemax-Icon

  • The company officially became a part of Kodak during the meeting (SCAN 12/16/98). On the new product side, Imation Cemax-Icon unveiled its AutoRad NT Windows NT-based diagnostic workstation. Other enhancements on AutoRad NT included automatic hanging protocols and the ability to view multimodality images on the same monitors.
  • Imation also released ClinicalWeb, a low-cost image distribution method for referring physicians using a facility’s intranet. ClinicalWeb is designed for use in a Windows NT 4.0 environment, according to the company.

ISG Technologies

  • ISG debuted VR SoftView Suite 3.1, an NT-based workstation software package that adds features such as speech recognition, as well as the integration of reports and images. In addition, the upgrade allows physicians to be paged as soon as the study is ready to be reviewed, according to the Mississauga, Ontario-based firm.
  • In archiving developments, the company debuted VR SoftStore 2.1, which enhances the scalability of the archive and adds support for media such as CD-R, magneto-optical disk, and digital linear tape. It can perform image prefetching and can also be equipped with a Web server module.

Merge Technologies

  • Merge introduced CaseWorks Remote, a soft-copy reading version of CaseWorks that allows users to conduct image diagnosis, reporting, and dictation from home, according to the Milwaukee-based company.
  • The company also showed MergePort, an HL-7 and DICOM interface. MergePort will be available in the first quarter of 1999.
  • ReportWorks, a secure, Web-based distribution approach for images and reports, was also introduced. Availability is expected in mid-1999.

Olicon Imaging Systems

  • Olicon’s workstation software was again displayed in the booth of HIS firm Shared Medical Systems as part of that company’s Radiologists’Command Center product.
  • Olicon showed UCLA RadStation, a work-in-progress software package that automates display of DICOM images with study-dependent hanging protocols. The Aliso Viejo, CA-based company is collaborating with the University of California, Los Angeles on the project.

Philips Medical Systems

  • The Shelton, CT-based multimodality firm has branded all of its PACS offerings to begin with the “Easy” prefix. Philips continues its relationship with Sectra-Imtec for PACS software development.
  • Philips showcased EasyWeb, a work-in-progress Web-based offering developed in collaboration with Canadian PACS software and connectivity provider Mitra. Running on a Windows NT server, EasyWeb works with either Netscape or Microsoft browsers and can support up to 200 PCs. Access to images, reports, and other radiology information is provided. Availability of EasyWeb is expected in the first quarter.
  • Integrated speech recognition for the company’s EasyVision workstations will be available in the second quarter of 1999. Any speech recognition engine will be supported, according to the firm. The company also displayed a work-in-progress 1K flat-panel display, with availability expected in the first quarter.

Picker International

  • Picker announced that it will incorporate the VR SoftStore archive and work-flow management package developed by ISG in partnership with Image Devices of Frankfurt, Germany. Cleveland-based Picker will market the offering under the Intelli-Store name.
  • Picker also announced the availability of RadWorks 4.0 workstation software from Applicare, the Dutch firm that is supplying Picker with PACS software..
  • In JPACS developments, Picker displayed version 3.0 of its JPACS/Remote image distribution product. Currently in beta testing, JPACS/Remote 3.0 is expected to be available in the first quarter of 1999.

Rogan Medical Systems

  • The Dutch company highlighted HyperArchive, a new DVD archive family that increases the firm’s storage capacity by a factor of four. Employing DVD-RAM technology, the new versions of HyperArchive will be available in three configurations, supporting one, two, and four terabytes of storage. Rogan customers will be able to upgrade to DVD-RAM, which will be shippable in the first quarter of 1999. Pricing is not yet available.
  • Rogan has added support for gigabit Ethernet. Available as an upgrade to the company’s HyperNet offering, gigabit Ethernet increases network speed by 10 times the capacity of Fast Ethernet, according to the Pewaukee, WI-based company.

Siemens Medical Systems

  • The networked radiology department took the spotlight in the Siemens booth. The Iselin, NJ-based vendor highlighted specific PACS applications such as neuroradiology, emergency room radiology, and enterprise PACS. The company’s enterprise PACS concept can employ Java-based viewers that obviate the need for specialized workstations outside the radiology department, according to the vendor.
  • Work-in-progress techniques employing progressive and scalable uses of wavelet compression in image distribution applications were shown. Compression levels can be set for each user and modality.
  • Siemens has also expanded the functionality of its Windows NT-based MagicView 300 workstation. It can now function as a stand-alone ultrasound miniPACS review station and can support full 24-bit image color images and dynamic studies. Radiologists can also review scans as they are in progress, according to the company. A 1280 x 1024 resolution flat-panel display was also shown for use on MagicView 300.

Sterling Diagnostic Imaging

  • Sterling showed a work-in-progress Web browser offering capable of supporting 12-bit images. The product, developed by ISG Technologies and Image Devices, is expected to be available in the second quarter of 1999. Other PACS product line additions scheduled for release in the second quarter of this year include speech recognition capability and a color workstation for ultrasound. Radiologists will also be able to generate reports on workstations in the second quarter.
  • The Greenville, SC-based company displayed work-in-progress DVD developments in collaboration with Pioneer and Image Devices. Sterling expects DVD archives to be available for shipments in the fourth quarter.

Toshiba America Medical Systems

  • Toshiba demonstrated a number of products from its PACS partner Agfa. A digital linear tape (DLT) backup or offsite archive was shown. Also in Tustin, CA-based Toshiba’s booth was a four-monitor diagnostic workstation, the ADC Solo single-plate computed radiography system, and the Web 1000 Web server for image distribution.

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