QStar embeds PACS into storage appliance

December 20, 2007

QStar Technologies turned the usual process of PACS development upside down with the development of its SyntryPACS-a PACS layered on top of an archive to create an all-in-one appliance, priced for imaging operations with a few dollars to spare.

QStar Technologies turned the usual process of PACS development upside down with the development of its SyntryPACS--a PACS layered on top of an archive to create an all-in-one appliance, priced for imaging operations with a few dollars to spare.

Most PACS are done the other way around, as developers come up with a PACS first and then add storage, or leave customers to add that piece, according to Jim Wheeler, QStar director of marketing and business development.

"Because it's an appliance, SyntryPACS is an all-encompassing solution. It is very easy to install so the hospitals themselves don't have to think, I need this piece and that piece," Wheeler said. "This gives them the basic functionality plus an archive platform."

The company, a 20-year provider of storage devices and routers, began pitching its latest development last week at the RSNA meeting, positioning SyntryPACS as a low-cost, efficient means for storing and retrieving medical imaging studies. The company is looking for a specific kind of customer.

"We're after the small business market," he said. "The imaging center and clinic with three or fewer modalities have to meet the same requirements (for record and image retention) as the large hospitals, but they don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars to throw at the problem."

QStar's product with built-in PACS and network connectivity will start around $15,000. Both DICOM- and HIPAA-compliant, SyntryPACS embeds PACS software into the server along with storage management software. This allows automated, rule-based, secure routing of images and advanced replication features. Hooked into an existing network, SyntryPACS can be accessed from on-line workstations throughout the clinic or hospital.

Storage options are modular, allowing facilities to configure the initial set-up however they want, Wheeler said. If storage needs increase, more capacity can be added. Facilities might begin with a very low-cost tape or optical drives featuring removable media, expanding with RAIDs or more sophisticated and costly components.

Wheeler expects to have five or six orders for the beta version of SyntryPACS soon after the RSNA meeting. Full production will begin by January. Its credibility buoyed by the more than 700 hospitals currently depending on its storage devices, QStar should attract hundreds more customers seeking a PACS solution, he said.

"I would like to have hundreds of installations a year from now," Wheeler said. "I think that is a very realistic number."

QStar is working through distributors that usually sell storage products to end users in the medical community. The addition of SyntryPACS will add another dimension to their business by attracting customers who can't afford the big-ticket PACS from vendors such as GE Healthcare, Agfa, and Siemens.

Wheeler expects QStar's entry into the cost-sensitive PACS market to have no effect on its traditional customer base, made up of GE, Agfa, Siemens and the like, which buys storage components to augment their own PACS.

"We are satisfying a market need that they cannot directly address primarily because of the pricing issue," he said.