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Philips shuffles PACS group to emphasize IT capabilities


Philips shuffles PACS group to emphasize IT capabilitiesVendor also readies rollout of next PACS software versionPhilips Medical Systems has reorganized its Integrated Clinical Solutions operations in North America to reflect the growing

Philips shuffles PACS group to emphasize IT capabilities

Vendor also readies rollout of next PACS software version

Philips Medical Systems has reorganized its Integrated Clinical Solutions operations in North America to reflect the growing importance of a broader approach to healthcare information technology. Instead of maintaining separate cardiology and radiology PACS organizations, Philips has consolidated all operations in those groups into four new departments within ICS: business development, solutions engineering, systems integration, and customer support.

"We're becoming more of a services-oriented organization than a box-oriented organization," said James Champagne, director of business development and sales support. "It's a typical, IT-oriented infrastructure."

In this new North American ICS organization, Champagne heads up the business development group, with responsibility for enterprise PACS, miniPACS, and cardiac PACS operations. Other new group leaders include director of engineering Mike Kimball, who has responsibility for interoperability and network/systems architecture engineering. Joe Donnelly serves as director of solutions integration, handling project management and implementation of PACS integration at customer sites. Mike Debeauvernet is director of customer support.

All four group heads report to John Larson, who joined Philips in February as vice president of ICS (PNN 3/99). Larson reports to Jack Price, president and CEO of Philips Medical Systems North America.

The reorganization continues an IT-oriented theme emphasized by the Dutch vendor with the launch last year of Philips Healthcare Services (PNN 6/98), a group that was formed to emphasize healthcare information technology. ICS, with headquarters in Best, the Netherlands, holds the firm's PACS, RIS, and other IT offerings, and is a unit of PHS.

Philips has struggled in PACS despite being one of the early entrants into the market, but the business appears to be picking up for the company. Philips had a solid year in PACS in 1998, particularly in its Inturis for Cardiology program, Champagne said. The company landed over 50 PACS contracts, the bulk of which were cardiac sales. Philips partners with Camtronics Medical Systems in the Inturis for Cardiology effort (PNN 11/97).

The company did report an increase in radiology PACS sales in the fourth quarter, a development Champagne credited to a new Philips sales structure, which includes 10 dedicated ICS regional sales specialists, a first for the vendor. As part of that reorganization, Philips created four sales regions in North America, compared with the previous two-zone structure.

In product developments, Philips is getting set to release EasyPACS 5.1, the latest version of its PACS software. General availability is expected later this month for EasyPACS 5.1, which includes support for gigabit Ethernet; several EasyVision workstation enhancements, including an improved patient folder and better hanging protocols; and a more robust version of the company's EasyLink modality interface, Champagne said.

The vendor's EasyWeb Web-based image distribution offering is also expected to be available for general release this month. The product has been in beta testing at Aurora Healthcare of Wisconsin since February (PNN 3/99).

Philips also hopes to add speech recognition capability to its EasyVision workstation lines by the second quarter. The company's flat-panel 1K x 1K monitor, shown as a work-in-progress at last year's RSNA meeting (PNN 1/99), is now available.

Philips is also taking orders for Digital Diagnost, its flat-panel digital x-ray product. A bucky-style x-ray system, Digital Diagnost has been installed at sites in Europe and is undergoing clinical evaluation at Duke University in Durham, NC. Shipments in the U.S. are expected to begin in the summer, Champagne said.

The vendor sees Digital Diagnost and its Thoravision CR offerings as key components of its product line, Champagne said.

"These systems combined with PACS are really where cost-savings occur with digital imaging," he said.

At the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society show, Philips highlighted its Rados RIS offering, which it offers only in Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. Although the company has no plans to bring Rados to the U.S. market, Philips emphasized the product to showcase the firm's experience in handling integration issues, Champagne said.

Rados has been installed at 222 sites around the world, with the biggest customer base generated from the Management Informatise de la Radiologie et de L'Imagerie Medicale (MIRIAM) project. (PNN 5/98). European sites make up 200 of the Rados installed base, with the Middle East generating 20 locations, and Australia contributing two.

On April 15, Philips will debut the next release of Rados, which will add a number of features such as management of the temporary patient ID, and improved work flow by adding shortcuts between the software's main screens, said Jean de Crane, international marketing manager. Billing preparation for external billing systems has been added, as has a "STAT" appointment scheduling option. Stock and budget management modules have been incorporated to allow tracking of radiology department finances and resources, he said.

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