Vendors at the RSNA meeting addressed the need for improved workflow and productivity, highlighting the continuing integration of PACS and RIS with other information technologies amid new visualization technologies aimed to handle the ever-increasing size of image data sets. Product enhancements also focused on users' specific roles and preferences, spawning a new term for the PACS/IT industry: "role-based tools." These tools acknowledge the diversity of professionals using IT and the complexity of orchestrating healthcare information.
The need to satisfy the multifaceted IT community has led many companies over the past year to enter collaborations or make acquisitions. Among those most prominent were Philips Medical Systems' acquisition of Stentor, Merge Healthcare's purchase of Cedara Software, Agfa HealthCare buying Heartlab, McKesson acquiring Medcon, SmartPACS entering into a joint venture with Infinitt, and EMC forming a partnership with Siemens.
Agfa highlighted its Impax Enterprise integrated workflow solution, which combines the Impax 6.0 PACS network, Impax RIS, Solution Monitoring and Management Services (SMMS), Impax Reporting, and Impax Auditing and Integration Services.
Amicas showcased its Vision Series, which includes Vision Series PACS version 4.1, featuring enhancements and advanced workstation tools such as new pediatric features and expanded support for MIP/MPR and 3D imaging, customizable workflow, next-generation Java technology, and expanded compatibility and integration with third-party applications. Other PACS applications on display included:
Candelis introduced its ImageGrid 1000 server appliance, an affordable digital imaging storage solution that meets the needs of imaging centers and clinics. Based on a DICOM and appliance architecture, ImageGrid speeds image access, simplifies management, and protects patient images in a reliable HIPAA-compliant server and archival system. ImageGrid 1000 specifically addresses the growing need to archive large image files generated by high-resolution imaging modalities such as multislice CT and MR systems.
Cerner displayed ProVision PACS, a unified RIS/PACS with workflow and role-based tools for the radiology department, as well as the whole enterprise.
Cerner also displayed its Millennium RadNET, a unified RIS that supports workflow improvements and features an automated critical results notification that supports the latest Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations patient safety initiatives.
CoActive previewed its next-generation Exam-PACS, which provides new features including a Modality Worklist Service Option and brokerless HL7 Interface, a new back-end database, and enhanced scrolling speed. HL7 capabilities enable bidirectional HL7 communications to any HL7-capable application at a reduced cost. CoActive also unveiled its Exam-PACS-Ortho, an orthopedic version of Exam-PACS. The new software features a fully integrated copy of the OrthoView's Orthopedic Templating application, which includes the new Pediatric Assessment toolset.
DeJarnette displayed version 2.01 of its PACSware Intelligent router technology, which includes an improved GUI for configuring specialized routing rules and provides intelligent routing between dissimilar PACS products. The company also highlighted its PACS Migration Gateway technology, used by partners such as Amicas, Fujifilm, InSiteOne, McKesson Information Solutions, and Siemens Medical Solutions.
Dynamic Imaging showed its IntegradWeb RIS/PACS, an integrated single-desktop RIS/PACS featuring end-to-end Web-based workflow. The system builds on the Web-based architecture of its predecessors to address ambulatory settings. The IT package includes RIS, PACS, billing, document management, and digital dictation. The product, scheduled for release in early 2006, is targeted to radiology and multispecialty group practices, single imaging centers, and distributed imaging center chains. A billing module shares the same user interface and database as the RIS, which allows a complete view of the patient visit record without the user having to exit the application. The company also showed the 3.5 version of its IntegradWeb PACS platform, which includes expanded integration with third-party applications such as Dictaphone PowerScribe speech recognition software and OrthoTools powered by Orthocrat TraumaCad orthopedic templating and planning software.
Eastman Kodak demonstrated new CareStream solutions designed to deliver improved workflow and information sharing among its entire portfolio of medical imaging and information management products. CareStream Information Management Solutions services include Enterprise Information Management, Hosted Information Management, and Regional Information Management.
EMC demonstrated technologies and solutions that allow healthcare organizations to accelerate digital transformation by deploying an intelligent information lifecycle management (ILM) infrastructure. ILM supports clinical and business applications while protecting, managing, sharing, and archiving rapidly growing amounts of healthcare information.
Fujifilm announced the release of Synapse version 3.1.1 software, the eighth upgrade of its Synapse PACS. Features include immediate access to pretranscribed reports using digital voice files, report integration with other systems, user-specified canned notes, flashing STAT notification and enhanced sorting capabilities with Synapse work lists, additional support for viewing multipage documents, and automated presentation of scanned orders. Fujifilm also highlighted specific design criteria for Synapse Comprehension currently in development. Comprehension is Fujifilm's strategy for expanding Synapse to deal with radiology clinical and business processes as a single, complete, intelligent system. Expanded Synapse would replace individual RIS and PACS systems.
GE spotlighted Centricity Radiology Business Intelligence Dashboard software, which provides detailed reports for radiology business and workflow. The software evaluates a department or imaging center by comparing current performance to previously established benchmarks, reviewing the use of resources. Administrators receive real-time feedback on patient wait times and radiology staff performance. GE touts the dashboard as a means to improve efficiency, enhance workflow, and improve return on investment. The portal is part of the Centricity PACS 3.0 package. Workflow and clinical tool enhancements include the addition of voice clips that can be integrated with GE's Exam Notes functionality. GE also highlighted advancements in its Advantage Workstation (AW), which include Volume Share, an integrated visualization and analysis package comprising DirectConnect, Search Advantage, and FilterViews. The new AW RemoteAccess lets users apply AW functionality in any location through a PC or laptop.
Guardian highlighted its developing technologies including PinPoint, a patent pending approach that uses algorithms implemented in software to extract information not discernible to the human eye from a digital image. According to the company, the methodology increases the detection capability for a wide range of input and scanning devices. It also provides rapid automatic detection of specific types of objects, materials, and anomalies. Guardian highlighted new software for its FlowPoint RIS/PACS product that can optimize workflow in radiology departments and provide new imaging tools for analyzing difficult-to-read images.
IBM emphasized its new release, the Express Storage Platform for Medical Imaging, also called MI Express, a scalable, prebundled archive infrastructure solution that stores imaging data for retrieval by PACS. The affordable, flexible platform addresses unique storage demands of small and medium-sized organizations. The MI Express takes IBM's storage platform solution into the realm of multispecialty imaging. It offers integrated disk and tape storage and preloaded Tivoli Storage Manager software. It provides centralized data management for both online disk storage and offline tape storage, intelligent data movement to help reduce data transfer sizes and times required for backup and restoration, and policy-based automation tools to help provide automated data protection.
InSiteOne debuted InDex Service, a data migration service that optimizes storage and archiving of medical images for healthcare facilities transitioning to filmless digital imaging. The Web-enabled service is an affordable and versatile solution for short-term storage, retrieval, and long-term archiving of DICOM and non-DICOM medical images. It integrates with any PACS or modality as well as hospital networks and information systems. The services include a new partnership with DeJarnette Research Systems.
InStar introduced its next-generation RIS product, RIS NET, and the InStar Practice Scheduler, a new scheduling product for small clinics. RIS NET incorporates advanced capabilities such as patient scheduling, registration, order entry, pending appointments tracking, charge capture, billing transcription/report production, electronic signature, report distribution, and management reporting, as well as tracking preauthorization of the exam, its performance, and the deposition of images. It is built on the .Net/SQL platform and allows freestanding outpatient facilities, imaging centers, and enterprise hospital locations to manage patient records and exams while obtaining fast turnaround of reports. Practice Scheduler incorporates advanced capabilities such as patient scheduling (drag and drop), registration, order entry, pending and canceled appointments tracking, preauthorization tracking, and capture of preliminary billing information. Practice Scheduler does not require extensive IT infrastructure, servers, or database software. It is targeted to small outpatient centers and practices seeking scheduling and electronic medical record functionality or unable to afford a full-featured RIS.
McKesson spotlighted its Horizon Radiology Manager RIS, Horizon Radiology integrated RIS/PACS products, and Horizon Cardiology integration. Horizon Radiology Manager can be integrated with McKesson's Horizon Medical Imaging PACS. Earlier this year, McKesson acquired Medcon, which provides Web-based cardiac image and information management solutions.
Medweb showed its Advanced 3D Web PACS, which increases access to many 3D imaging functions and has features previously available only on dedicated 3D workstations. It lets users working on a standard PC employ 3D templating and autosegmenting of image data from spiral CT scanners. This product introduction extends 3D templating and sculpting tools to surgeons, oncologists, and other physicians. Advanced 3D Web PACS enables distribution of multislice studies in a manageable 3D volume that can be easily displayed and navigated. The solution enables isolation, sculpting, zoom-in, and rotation of images. It also provides MIP, MPR, and various measurement and 3D cursor functions alongside conventional 2D image windows. Autosegmentation tools isolate bone, blood vessels, and other tissues via simple template buttons or customizable settings.
Merge eMed introduced its Fusion RIS and RIS/PACS Version 3.0. Fusion RIS was designed with the help of clients to replicate radiology workflow best practices in imaging centers and radiology departments. It integrates information and automates traditional manual or paper methods related to scheduling, patient registration and tracking, document management, dictation, report turnaround, billing, claims processing, and other mission-critical operational functions. It helps practices reduce bottlenecks, maximize profits, and increase revenue through practice analysis tools. Its Practice Analysis Module turns raw data into decision-making information, and it allows users to set up benchmarks to track and compare performance on select criteria. The optional Web-based Referring Practice Portal enables real-time access to reports and associated images from within Fusion RIS/PACS or just reports from FUSION RIS.
NeuroStar's Virtual Radiology Community Web site provides a platform for sharing imaging services, resources, and information for users of its Virtual Radiology Network image management solution and other imaging professionals. The Web site offers a subportal for imaging businesses that want to outsource reading and a similar area for offsite reading service providers as well as a platform to connect these two communities. The service is complemented by PACS-In-A-Flash, which enables physicians and patients to download and carry relevant medical images with them for viewing on any PC.
Philips presented version 3.5 of the iSite PACS radiology software, which came to the company via its acquisition of Stentor, as well as ViewForum multimodality workstations.
Siemens focused on its syngo suite of products, which integrates PACS, RIS, and postprocessing. The suite includes syngo Imaging, syngo Imaging XS, syngo Workflow, and syngo Dynamics. The syngo Imaging radiology PACS network features Smart Select, a navigational tool that supports the daily work of radiologists. The syngo Workflow product supports traditional RIS functions, handling radiological workflow from order entry to image and report distribution.
The joint venture between SmartPACS and Infinitt, finalized in October, led to a new product line branded Infinitt. The Infinitt RIS/PACS network, which includes 2D and 3D imaging and navigation and advanced 3D visualization and analysis, debuted with a Web-based service and user interface. The software features protocol-based 3D postprocessing and an advanced work list for searching and easier customization. It provides both PACS-based and 3D-based hanging protocols, a multimedia report employing structured reporting, and 3D viewing functions and manipulation tools. The introduction will be followed by dedicated 3D packages for cardiac, PET/CT fusion, CT brain perfusion, brain angio subtraction, CT colonoscopy, advanced vessel analysis, and advanced segmentation applications.