RSNA vendors display slew of PACS productsFirms seek to keep up with technology developmentWith all the market dynamics beginning to fall into place, the largely untapped PACS marketplace is shaping up to be a battle royal. Last month's
Firms seek to keep up with technology development
With all the market dynamics beginning to fall into place, the largely untapped PACS marketplace is shaping up to be a battle royal. Last month's Radiological Society of North America meeting proved to be a fitting theater of operations, with vendors showcasing new product capabilities that are rapidly evolving. And judging by booth traffic and informal booth surveys, customers are looking to buy.
Of particular note at this year's show was Fuji's entry into the market as a full-scale PACS vendor, as well as widespread evidence of consolidation in the market as vendors continue to seek the economies of scale necessary to succeed. Several vendors, including Lockheed Martin Medical Imaging Systems (now part of GE Medical Systems) and Cemax-Icon (now part of Imation Cemax-Icon) exhibited under different corporate ownership this year.
Continued development in the x-ray digital detector realm generated much discussion, with systems from Sterling Diagnostic Imaging and Swissray International landing Food and Drug Administration 510(k) clearances just prior to the meeting. Many market watchers see the looming commercialization of direct digital detectors as a key development that will help facilitate the arrival of the digital department.
The Natick, MA-based company emphasized its ability to provide PACS solutions, including teleradiology, on a wide-area network. It also demonstrated in-house image distribution to ICU/CCU departments and modality miniPACS offerings. Access now has over 300 teleradiology networks in operation.
The company reported on developments with its Internet/intranet servers that will allow clinicians to review images using a Web browser (PNN 7/97). The work-in-progress product, under joint development by Access and wavelet compression partner Aware, has been named DxWave. The company demonstrated the use of wavelet compression in archiving.
Access also showed two Windows NT workstations using software from ISG Technologies. A 2K x 2.5K version is targeted at diagnostic applications, while a 1.6K x 1.2K model is suitable for ICU/CCU environments, according to the company.
AccuSoft of Westborough, MA, introduced Medical Imaging SDK and DICOM Communications SDK, two software applications development packages. Medical Imaging SDK enables applications developers to add DICOM support to their software products, while DICOM Communications SDK makes it easier for users to develop DICOM-based applications, according to the company.
Acoma Medical Imaging
Acoma introduced Viewsend 1000, a scaled-down version of its Viewsend 1200 teleradiology package. Acoma has added duplex communication software to allow two-way transmission of data.
The Wheeling, IL-based company also displayed a workstation for receiving and transmitting Sterling Diagnostic Imaging's DirectRay images.
Acuson is expanding the networking capabilities of its Aegis ultrasound miniPACS. The Mountain View, CA-based vendor displayed a work-in-progress HIS/RIS interface, which will be a software upgrade to the Aegis acquisition unit used on Acuson ultrasound machines.
The company's WebPro product is now running at four sites. WebPro enables Internet/intranet transmission of images and data to virtually any viewing station capable of handling 24-bit images (PNN 6/97).
Acuson also displayed its ViewPro image review software, which provides inexpensive off-line review and reporting of ultrasound image studies on Windows-based PCs.
The vendor also showed a work-in-progress DICOM-based patient modality worklist capability, which enables automatic transfer of patient demographic information and accession number into 128 XP.
AFP of Elmsford, NY, displayed a full line of high-performance monitors manufactured by German vendor Siemens AG. AFP accessed the monitors through a distribution deal signed with Siemens in October and will sell the monitors to OEMs and end users under the VisiBright label, according to William Greenblatt, sales manager of digital products. The defining characteristic of the monitors is their high brightness, which stands at 200 foot-lamberts for a 1600 x 1280 model and 175 foot-lamberts for a 2K x 2.5K model.
Agfa released version 3.5 of its Impax software. The new release, which can link PACS networks from separate hospitals, includes new capabilities such as parallel database technology and support for digital linear tape backup archives.
The company also emphasized its work-in-progress Web 1000 package, which allows users to access patient images and reports from a secured Web site. Web 1000 is expected to be available in the first quarter of 1998.
For clinician and referring physician image review, Agfa debuted CS500, a DICOM-compliant PC-based workstation. Based on Windows 95/NT, CS500 can be integrated with Agfa's Impax Workflow Manager network gateway hardware and software to provide access to radiology results and clinical information. CS500 will be shipping in the first quarter of 1998, according to the company.
Agfa added what it calls a cacheless client capability to Impax. The work-in-progress feature allows access of a 2K chest image from an archive in less than one second, compared with a 10-second retrieval time previously attainable on Impax.
Agfa introduced Paxport, a low-end teleradiology acquisition module that provides both lossy and lossless compression via wavelet and DICOM JPEG algorithms. Paxport will replace the company's previous low-end teleradiology offering, MG3000.
In computed radiography developments, Agfa introduced Vera, a work-in-progress reader designed for low-volume reading environments such as ICU/CCU or ER departments. Vera will cost around $100,000, according to the company.
Algotec has expanded its range of Java applet-based Web browser medical image management software since introducing its MediSurf product at the 1996 meeting, according to Menashe Benjamin, president of the Raanana, Israel, company. Algotec provides MediSurf on an OEM basis to Elscint and Picker International.
Version 2.0 of MediSurf adds support for wavelet compression algorithms to the software, Benjamin said. Algotec is using a form of progressive wavelet compression, in which the software automatically decides how much to compress based on the type of image involved. MediSurf also supports the fetching of radiology reports via an HL-7 interface, as well as support for 3-D images, color images, and cine loops.
MediStore is Algotec's name for its multimedia, multitier archive, which uses an Oracle database rather than Java technology. MediStore uses a long-term DLT archive and a RAID archive for short-term storage.
ImagiNet is Algotec's name for its work-in-progress PACS concept, which will include the MediSurf and MediStore products. Algotec plans to round out the line with MediPrime primary diagnosis workstations, to be released in September 1998, Benjamin said. Algotec plans to sell ImagiNet directly.
ALI continues to grow its corporate relationships. The Richmond, BC-based ultrasound miniPACS developer announced agreements with Hewlett-Packard and Sunquest Information Systems at the show. In a nonexclusive agreement with HP, ALI will serve as the preferred vendor for ultrasound miniPACS solutions on HP's ImagePoint multispecialty scanner in the U.S. and Canada. ALI also revealed that Sunquest will embed DICOM viewing technology from ALI into Sunquest's Flexirad radiology information system.
The company introduced NewPort, a portable DICOM-based image capture system, which is available to both end users and OEM customers. Attached to the output of any ultrasound scanner, the Windows 95-based NewPort converts the frame-grabbed images into DICOM data, according to the company.
ALI displayed Prodigy, a single-monitor Windows 95/NT-based workstation designed for smaller scale miniPACS implementations such as outlying imaging centers. Images can either be stored locally or transferred to a central location for archiving.
The company also displayed ALI Diagnostic Reporting, an online, structured diagnostic reporting module. ImageExpress, a new hardware/software component that cuts image recall times by 50%, was also showcased.
ALI also illustrated the work-in-progress capability of UltraPACS to display CT, MR, nuclear medicine, and digital subtraction angiography images. While increasing its support for other modalities, ALI remains committed to its ultrasound miniPACS focus, said president Christopher Hanna.
A work-in-progress 3-D acquisition workstation was also shown.
Peabody, MA-based Analogic released two new connectivity products for computed radiography applications. The company's SD-CRQA view station, the newest addition to the DASM-Rx family of connectivity products, provides image viewing, processing, and routing capabilities for Fuji CR image data. SD-CRQA is a client/server offering and utilizes Web protocols for user access.
Analogic has also upgraded its SD100 CR gateway, adding support for Fuji's energy subtraction algorithm, as well as a keypad control for real-time selectable control over routing and formatting for each connected CR reader.
Applicare Medical Imaging
European PACS vendor Applicare debuted new versions of its data acquisition module, which supports film digitizing, document scanning, frame-grabbing, and digital photography.
The firm introduced a four-monitor version of its RadWorks Diagnostic workstation, which supports 2K x 2.5K resolution. Applicare also showed a single-media archive module, as well as what it calls a virtual filmsheet capability, which enables the vendor's print module to compose print jobs on the fly.
In image postprocessing developments, Applicare displayed a work-in-progress integrated multiplanar reformat (MPR)/ maximum intensity projection (MIP) module. In telemedicine applications, the vendor demonstrated whiteboarding, teleconsult, and videoconferencing capabilities.
Lake Forest, IL-based Aurora added three new workstations to its Sunrise product family. Designed to emulate the way radiologists use film, Sunrise Diagnostic Digital Film Alternators provides 1K displays and also provides 2K resolution with a zoom feature.
A Sunrise clinical review station is designed for ICU and other critical-care areas, and is available with up to four monitors. The third new workstation, Sunrise personal review station, is designed for physicians' offices and nursing stations.
Autocyt Group debuted version 2.0 of its Amicas Web/Intranet image server. The new release includes a number of capabilities, such as virtual private networking, which allows secure, encrypted access to Amicas over the Internet. The vendor also demonstrated the use of Amicas as an ICU viewstation.
Options on Amicas 2.0 include RealTimeRIS, an interface to IDX's IDXrad RIS that allows direct one-click access to Amicas images from IDXrad, according to the Watertown, MA-based vendor.
Belgian monitor developer Barco highlighted a new line of displays that includes a novel quality assurance software package. Called MediCal, the package enables users to calibrate their monitors and track monitor performance over time.
The company has begun shipping its first 5-megapixel display package, MeDis 5MP, which includes all the components required for primary diagnostic applications. MeDis 2MP, another new product, is targeted at less demanding applications for which 2-megapixel displays are adequate.
Barco also displayed a work-in-progress flat-panel monitor.
Base Ten of Trenton, NJ, exhibited ScanQuik, an x-ray film digitizer from Italian firm Micromedica, alongside its traditional uPACS ultrasound miniPACS offering. Equipped with an archiving database, ScanQuik can scan six to 10 films per minute at resolutions ranging from 500 x 500 pixels to 2K x 2K, according to Base Ten. Base Ten expects to file for FDA 510(k) clearance for the digitizer, pending completion of negotiations with Micromedica.
Bay Networks maintained a high profile at the meeting through its support of RSNAnet. The company donated and installed the computer network that allowed exhibitors to exchange medical information either within McCormick Place or around the world via the Internet. The company also displayed what it calls its internetworking and management solutions.
Brit added a Web server feature to its Roentgen Files archive product. With the new feature, users can access exams, series, or individual images from a patient list available off the Web.
The Dallas-based vendor added a number of capabilities to its Radiology Workbench workstation. Worklists can be developed by modality, region, or status, or a combination thereof. In addition, Radiology Workbench supports hanging protocols and other features such as automatic loading of the next exam on the list, as well as the ability to interrupt the image queue for an urgent study.
Camtronics has added DICOM output on both its Video Plus digital imaging systems. The Hartland, WI-based company also announced that it has validated the DICOM interoperability of 10 printers and 11 workstations with its NT100 and NT200 connectivity products.
Canon showed its latest work on the amorphous silicon flat-panel array technology that it debuted at the 1996 RSNA show. Canon displayed upright and table-based prototype systems using the detectors, which produce 12-bit images in a 2688 x 2688-pixel array, with a 160-micron pixel size and resolution of 3.1 line pairs/mm.
Canon planned to begin selling systems by the end of 1997 in Japan and by 1998 in the U.S., pending FDA clearance. Canon will sell the systems directly, but is also open to OEM agreements, according to Eric Fuse, manager of Canon's medical products division.
The company also displayed developments with its PF-PACS line.
Cares Built, a manufacturer of foot switches and other x-ray components, sees the digital detector market as a promising expansion opportunity. The Keyport, NJ, company debuted Clarity 7000, a work-in-progress 17 x 17-inch CCD-based detector with a 7K x 7K matrix and resolution of 7 line pairs/mm, more than twice that of some other systems about to hit the market, according to Mark Telymonde, director of marketing and new product sales. Cares Built will sell the detectors as upgrades that can fit into a standard bucky, with products commercially available by early 1999. The company has also outsourced PACS software from Rogan Medical Systems that can be bundled with Clarity 7000.
Cerner released a version of its ProView image distribution package for the vendor's HNA Millennium network architecture. The Kansas City, MO, company also showed the latest revision of RadNet, a radiology information system that was selected as part of Agfa's winning DIN-PACS bid.
The vendor showed a work-in-progress Web component, which allows users Web-based access to radiology information as well as images. Cerner also released a PowerChart version for the HNA Millennium platform. PowerChart is an electronic medical record application that integrates with ProView to provide a complete electronic medical record, according to the firm.
Citation Computer Systems
Citation of Chesterfield, MO, showed integration work between its C-RIS radiology information system and PACS technology from DataView Imaging International. The two firms, which exhibited in the same booth, signed a strategic alliance and marketing partnership in February.
Middleburg, OH-based Codonics introduced NP-1660M, a plain-paper imager that incorporates both dye-diffusion and direct thermal technology. NP-1660M, which generates gray-scale and color prints through a dry process, is priced at $12,995 and is shipping now. A DICOM option is also available.
The company announced that it has formed an alliance with Saba Medical Imaging Technology and Informix Software. Saba was formed to develop a suite of software based on the DICOM standard (PNN 9/97).
Data General also highlighted IntraScan II, a PACS and teleradiology product line provided by partner MarkCare Medical Systems. New developments included work-flow enhancements and a clustering capability.
Monitor provider Data Ray debuted its DR76 monitors, which are designed to serve as clinical review stations. The monitors come with either 17 or 21-inch displays and support resolutions up to 1.6K x 1.2K. The Westminster, CO-based company expects to begin production of the monitors in the spring of 1998.
North York, Ontario-based DataVation displayed DataVast, a hierarchical data storage server that provides archiving solutions ranging from 100 to 1500 GB of online and near online storage.
DeJarnette Research Systems
DeJarnette highlighted VisiShare, its new line of work-in-progress workstations developed in collaboration with CT workstation software developer Columbia Scientific of Columbia, MD. The VisiShare family employs a display adapter from Dome Imaging and includes the Windows NT-based PacsView, CliniView, and TeleView workstations. The line is also available in Windows 95. The three workstations are targeted for diagnostic reading for radiologists, clinical image review, and on-call teleradiology applications, respectively. DeJarnette will sell the VisiShare line directly.
Also new in DeJarnette's booth was a second-generation version of the company's ImageShare CR Fuji CR quality control interface. DeJarnette has improved throughput on ImageShare CR, which can now process 700 to 1000 images per hour, compared with 200 per hour on the first-generation system.
Dicomit Imaging Systems
Dicomit introduced a range of new products, including a work-in-progress 3-D software upgrade to its Image Manager offering. The Richmond Hill, Ontario-based company also showed full-frame and full-speed cine capability for Image Manager, as well as Dicom Net View, a work-in-progress system that offers remote ultrasound image review via Web browsers. Another work-in-progress, Dicom Live View, enables physicians at remote viewstations to view live images in progress, according to the company.
Digital released an enterprise-wide image distribution solution designed for integrated network and Internet viewing of medical images and related annotations, according to the Nashua, NH-based firm. The technology combines a Digital Alpha Windows NT or Unix-based workstation with Shared Vision enterprise-wide viewing software by Bedford, MA-based ImageLabs. DICOM support is provided, and users can view multiple modalities simultaneously on the same workstation, according to Digital.
Diversified Medical Systems
Diversified Medical Systems of King of Prussia, PA, has released Hierarchical Archive for Images and Data Storage (HAIDS), which utilizes RAID server technology, magneto-optical storage, DLT, and other tape library devices to provide archiving for patient records and captured images. A basic archiving system starts at $50,000, with systems employing DLT and wavelet compression beginning at $100,000.
Dome Imaging Systems
Dome released DimplAccess, a DICOM extension to its software toolkits. DimplAccess provides DICOM support for storing, querying, and sending medical images, according to the Waltham, MA-based supplier.
DR Systems highlighted its money-back guarantee policy. If the company's PACS technology does not meet benefits such as improved productivity for radiologists, technologists, and support staff, as well as the elimination or drastic reduction of film expenses, hazardous waste, and processing cost within 90 days, DR Systems will take the system back and provide a full refund.
The San Diego-based vendor rolled out release 3.0 of its PACS line. The new release brings Window 95 and NT versions to complement the company's prior Unix-based offerings. DICOM query/retrieve support was also added.
The company also released Remote Ambassador, a low-cost, Windows NT-based teleradiology software package designed for referring physicians.
The company has signed on its first international client, a hospital in the Philippines. In 1997, DR Systems doubled its 1996 sales volume and now has 35 installations, according to the company.
Dynamic Healthcare Technologies
The company highlighted release 2.0 of its PACsPlus+ offering, which adds capabilities that are commonly seen in radiology information systems, according to the company. A teleradiology component to PACsPlus+ was also added. Called WebSight, the offering is based on Web protocols and supports both sending and receiving of images, according to Dynamic, of Maitland, FL. The company has also installed the first version of its Maxifile client-server RIS.
Kodak made a splash with the introduction of the 9000D dry laser printer. Expected to be available in the third quarter, 9000D has a throughput of 120 films per hour and supports three film sizes. The printer supports 12-bit images at 325 dpi, with 4096 gray levels per pixel, according to the company. Users of Kodak's 2180 laser printer can upgrade to dry capability for a list price of $44,000 as part of the company's dry conversion program. The 9000D printer, which received FDA 510(k) clearance in October, has a list price of $63,000.
The Rochester, NY-based company also displayed 5000D, a work-in-progress tabletop dry laser printer for lower-end applications. The printer is expected to be available in the second half of 1999.
Kodak displayed its work-in-progress Image Server, which takes images off archives and makes them available via Web browsers.
In ultrasound digital image management, Kodak has added several features to its Access ultrasound miniPACS, a product line Kodak acquired with its purchase of ATL Ultrasound's Nova Microsonics division in 1997. Among the enhancements are Smart Clerk, which checks the local database for previous studies, then creates and queues an electronic study folder for immediate use. Smart Load routes the electronic folders and images to Access workstations as specified by the user-defined work flow.
Kodak highlighted its new family of Windows NT-based workstations (PNN 12/97). The vendor also unveiled Windows NT-based workstations for diagnosis of projection radiography images. The diagnostic stations support 2K x 2.5K monitors and will be available by the second quarter in 1998.
Kodak executives also emphasized progress made with their flagship large-scale PACS network at New York Hospital, which is now around 50% to 65% filmless. The site is expected to be roughly 60% to 85% filmless by the first quarter.
Images generated by the company's investigational digital detector technique were also shown.
Interview, a Web-based access engine provided by fellow Israeli vendor Algotec, was a highlight of Elscint's connectivity efforts at the show. Elscint, which owns a 25% stake in Algotec, is also cooperating with the vendor to develop a long-term storage solution to coincide with Interview. DLT tape will probably be employed, according to Elscint.
EMED of San Antonio broadened its distribution channels with the news that Swissray International will offer EMED PACS technology as a complement to the Swiss company's digital detectors. Swissray will call the resulting offering "Swissray by EMED PACS." EMED PACS equipment has already been installed at a couple of sites in conjunction with the detectors, according to EMED president Ronald Ford.
The vendor showed new work-in-progress display hardware on its PACSPro II Unix-based workstation, with delivery of the new hardware expected in mid-1998. The company also showed a multipurpose viewstation that incorporates both acquisition and image viewing, with an anticipated shipping date in mid-1998.
EMED previewed a HIS/RIS interface that was developed in collaboration with software developer MSI of Atlanta.
The company also showed a work-in-progress Web server that disseminates images via Microsoft Explorer. A release date is still pending.
The company installed PACS networks at 13 sites in the second half of 1997.
French start-up firm Etiam debuted Mediem, a medical electronic mail application.
Fuji Medical Systems USA
Fuji demonstrated two new computed radiography workstations, the first arrivals of the company's Synapse line of Windows NT-based PACS products. Synapse will also include features such as on-demand images and cascadable architecture (PNN 11/97).
The Stamford, CT-based vendor also introduced FCR 5000, a new CR reader designed for high-volume departments. The reader offers a lower price and better performance than Fuji's previous top-of-the-line system, FCR 9000, according to the company.
Fuji also showed FM-DP 3543, a new dry thermal printer for 14 x 17 films.
GE Medical Systems
GE's Integrated Imaging Solutions unit exhibited at its first RSNA meeting since GE acquired Lockheed Martin's PACS business in April (PNN 5/97). GE's Advantage Windows release 3.1, which adds some display management features such as hanging protocols, is now available.
In other workstation developments, GEMS displayed a work-in-progress NT-based workstation equipped with Articulate Systems software for voice recognition. Also included on the workstation is a natural-language processing algorithm developed by GE's Corporate Research and Development division. The algorithm adapts to the voice of the user, bringing accuracy to the 98% to 99% range, according to the company. GEMS hopes to bring the workstation to market within 12 to 18 months.
The company's WebLink offering is now shipping.
GEMS displayed new CT/MR viewing software that provides improved cross-sectional displays. Shipments will begin in the first half of 1998.
GEMS has also formed a five-year strategic alliance with teleradiology services provider Inphact. GEMS will provide Inphact with PACS and teleradiology equipment and will also jointly market Inphact's on-call image interpretation service, digital transmission and archiving, and physicians' practice management services, according to Inphact.
Hudson, NH-based Howtek emphasized Digitizer Director, a Windows NT software package that acquires and sends digitized radiographic images in a DICOM network. Digitizer Director supports the Howtek Scanmaster DX and 960 film digitizers and is priced at $2100.
IBM Healthcare Solutions
Hawthorne, NY-based IBM showed version 1.3 of its MedSpeak speech recognition software. The new release adds a SpeechMouse microphone provided by Philips that integrates a mouse trackball and trigger into the microphone, a development that enables corrections to be made more easily. The microphone, which includes six feature buttons, also can be equipped with bar-code capability as an option. The new release also includes free-form customizable templates to aid in structured reporting, as well as other ease-of-use improvements.
IDX displayed IDXradR, a new version of the company's IDXrad RIS that uses relational database technology. IDXradR will work in conjunction with IDXview to offer enterprise-wide access to images and other information.
In addition, the Burlington, VT, vendor is working in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic and other alpha partners to develop a Web-based front end to IDXradR that will enable users to access other IDX information systems. IDX anticipates installations of the Web-based IDXradR at beta sites to take place in the third quarter of 1998.
This Minnetonka, MN, company featured a flat-panel monitor manufactured by IBM. The 16-inch monitor includes special back-lighting for high-brightness applications and has a brightness of 100 foot lamberts.
The company also showed a 5-megapixel monitor with a calibration unit that allows users to adjust their monitors to the same settings.
Images-on-Call (Devices & Services) introduced a host of new capabilities to its teleradiology and image distribution product line, including TS1 Teleradiology Server, a scalable short-term storage system, and ViewBrowser, an image viewer for clinicians. Other new introductions include DG2 DICOM Gateway, a complementary product to the firm's DG1 DICOM Gateway. The DG2 module enables users to move video and plain film images to a DICOM environment, according to the Dallas-based company.
Imation Cemax-Icon displayed AutoRad release 3.5. Scheduled for release in mid-1998, the new version includes improvements in hanging protocols and HIS/RIS connectivity. The company is also developing a Windows NT version of the Unix-based AutoRad. A release of the NT version is targeted for late 1998.
The scalability of the firm's archiving offerings was on display. RAID archives as well as StorageTek products were featured.
Imation's DryView printers were included in IBM's winning DIN-PACS proposal as the recommended laser printing option, even though Cemax-Icon's PACS technology was not selected.
The vendor also showed R2 Technology's ImageChecker mammography computer-aided diagnosis workstation. Imation Cemax-Icon sees synergies between its technology and R2's, such as in archiving media and soft-copy viewing. A formal relationship between the companies is expected to be finalized soon.
Imnet displayed three new workstations based on software by ISG Technologies: MV 2000, MV 6000, and MV 8000 (PNN 11/97). A fourth new workstation targeted for clinician review, MV 1000, is in development. The company also showed its DICOM Network Agent, which received FDA 510(k) clearance prior to the show.
The Alpharetta, GA-based firm has installed eight sites with the teleradiology portion of its MedVision product line. The PACS component of MedVision is targeted for a June general release.
This Nashville teleradiology services company made its debut at this year's RSNA meeting. Inphact discussed its Virtual Partner program, a teleradiology and practice management service that provides radiologists with after-hours coverage via a teleradiology link to Inphact's central read center. Radiologists also have the opportunity to become an equity partner in Inphact through the program.
Inphact also announced the signing of a five-year agreement with GE Medical Systems in which GE will be Inphact's preferred vendor, while GE will help jointly market Inphact's services.
ISG drew considerable booth traffic as it displayed integration of its VR Windows NT-based PACS viewing software with the company's Viewing Wand image guided surgery system.
ISG has received FDA 510(k) clearance for its image management and archive software. The Unix-based VR Store archive features a scalable CD-ROM jukebox holding up to 100 disks. Multiple jukeboxes can be supported. Work-flow management is provided by a VR Flow feature, which offers automatic prefetching and distribution of images. Another component, VR NetServe, allows enterprise-wide access to images via Web technology, according to the Mississauga, Ontario-based company. The software offerings will be sold through OEM channels.
ISG products were displayed in the booths of over 60 vendors at the meeting.
The company highlighted its Regius model 330 storage phosphor-based x-ray digitization unit, which is designed for upright chest and abdomen studies. With Regius, images can be processed and sent into a DICOM network without the need to remove the storage phosphor plate and take it to a separate reader. Konica anticipates a U.S. clinical release date in the third quarter of 1998.
Konica also displayed new developments with its NetStar PACS and teleradiology product line.
Atlanta-based Lanier introduced Caregiver, a PC-based workstation that allows physicians still using a conventional dictation and transcription approach access to historical reports for patients. Electronic signature capability is also available.
Lanier also discussed the integration of its VoiceWriter digital dictation system with SpeechMagic natural speech recognition technology from Philips Speech Processing of Vienna, Austria. A distribution agreement has not yet been settled on between the two companies.
Lernout & Hauspie (Kurzweil)
L&H demonstrated Kurzweil Clinical Reporter Version 2.0 for Radiology, which adds continuous speech recognition capabilities to the voice recognition product. In addition, clinical information can be captured from the generated reports and automatically transmitted to RIS, PACS, or EPR systems for use alongside the original image, according to the Leper, Belgium-based firm.
Line Imaging Systems
Line highlighted a 32-bit version of its WinRad teleradiology system. Available in January, the new release adds a number of capabilities, including markedly improved speed, continuous zoom, and other added functionalities, according to the Atlanta-based firm. The 32-bit version will also feature the company's implementation of wavelet compression.
Lumisys had two booths at this year's meeting, thanks to its acquisition of CompuRad, which was completed just prior to the meeting. In the company's traditional digitizer realm, Lumisys demonstrated an autoloader feature for its line of film digitizers. The feature is expected to be available in July.
Lumisys also showed the GammaView line of nuclear medicine acquisition, distribution, and viewing software, as well as the GammaServ nuclear medicine image server.
The company also released iNet Pro 2.1, which includes a number of enhancements in speed and performance for the network server. Enhancements on its iView Pro Windows NT-based viewing software package include a cross-referencing feature and a filtering function.
Medasys Digital Systems
Medasys has added teleconferencing features to its Dx family of teleradiology and PACS products.
The firm, with headquarters in Miami and France, also highlighted DxWin, a DICOM-based PC imaging viewing solution. Based on Windows 95 or NT, DxWin enables access to images over Internet/intranet, WAN, and LAN links.
MedImage, of Ann Arbor, MI, added the ability to store DICOM images to its Galen teleradiology package. In addition, the company has added ultrasound color capability and Web support.
Hartland, WI-based MedPACS Displays debuted WinPACS, Windows 95 or NT versions of the company's display software. WinPACS, which also features DICOM JPEG compression capability, is available in one-, two-, or four-monitor configurations.
The San Francisco firm highlighted Medweb E-mail, a plug-in that allows users to embed medical images into e-mail messages, according to the company. Medweb E-Mail includes wavelet compression capability and over 40 image viewing and manipulation tools, according to the firm.
Milwaukee-based Merge debuted its MergeWorks line of multimodality printing networks and electronic archives, which Merge will sell directly to end users, a departure from its traditional OEM distribution strategy. MergeARK represents the archive component of MergeWorks and supports online storage in addition to CD-R media. Merge is positioning MergeARK as an entry-level archive for sites not quite ready to convert to full-scale PACS.
Other MergeWorks components include MergeAPS, a multimodality laser print manager that has an option to send digital images to CD-R; MergeMVP, which translates non-DICOM network protocols from imaging devices to DICOM; MergeVPI video print interface that digitizes video print output from scanners and transparently forwards the images to network-shared filming resources; and Merge DPI, a digital print interface that connects imaging devices equipped with a digital laser print port to network-shared filming resources.
In other MergeWorks technology, Merge displayed a work-in-progress Web component that will be available in the first half of 1998.
Metheus introduced a P1530 graphics controller that displays up to 2048 x 2560 resolution at refresh rates up to 71 Hz, according to the Beaverton, OR-based firm. P1530 supports the Windows NT, Solaris 2.5, Digital Unix, and IBM AIX operating systems.
Mitra emphasized its PACS Broker product, which interfaces PACS and modality workstations with HIS or RIS systems. Future plans for PACS Broker include the broadening of the amount of information accessible on workstations to include data from all healthcare information systems. Mitra is also exploring the use of the Web to distribute images and other information to clinicians.
The MRC Group
Transcription services firm MRC of Cleveland is taking the plunge into speech recognition with PowerScribe for Radiology 1.0, a continuous speech recognition software package based on Windows 95 and NT. PowerScribe uses client-server computer architecture and a batch-processing method that approximates the way radiologists read exams, dictating at one time and reviewing later, according to the company. The software is based on a Dragon Systems engine, with application software by Articulate Systems.
Computer peripherals developer NEC released MultiSync LCD400V, a flat-panel display with an estimated price of $1998. LCD400V has nearly all the same features as the LCD400 flat-panel monitor, but does not employ that version's XtraView wide-angle viewing technology.
Olicon Imaging Systems
Olicon presented several archiving developments. The Aliso Viejo, CA-based vendor has added digital linear tape (DLT) to its archiving offerings. Also new is a three-tier online storage architecture, using RAID for short-term storage, magneto-optical disks for medium-term storage, and DLT for long-term archiving. When images arrive in the archive, a copy is automatically made on all three media, offering redundancy.
The company has also completed the port of its Fuji CR and DICOM gateway products to Windows NT. The transition has boosted processing power and network speed by three to four times, according to the company.
Olicon debuted a color image workstation targeted primarily for ultrasound and nuclear medicine applications.
Calibration software has been added to the company's workstations. While service personnel can use the software during regular maintenance visits, end users can also purchase photometers for themselves and calibrate the monitors on their own.
The company showed its work-in-progress WebGate offering, which provides Web-based access to archived images. The server will be shippable in the first quarter of 1998, and Olicon is seeking beta partners to resolve security issues on the product.
Another work-in-progress technology, a fingerprint log-in feature, allows radiologists to log onto the system by inserting a finger into a specialized reader.
Olicon workstations were also employed in the booth of Shared Medical Systems as part of that vendor's Radiologist Center product, which integrates medical images with information systems from SMS. The two companies are also in the final stages of developing an agreement for joint marketing of Olicon's PACS workstations.
Parent company Medaphis has combined four subsidiaries to form Per-Se: Atwork, which provides resource management and scheduling software; Health Data Sciences, which provides enterprise-wide patient-care information management systems; BSG, which contributes information technology services; and Consort, which offers radiology information systems.
Per-Se debuted ProgRIS 98, a new version of the ProgRIS radiology information system. ProgRIS 98 includes a number of new features, including a Web-enabled report browser for referring-physician access to reports, and two-way communication between ProgRIS 98 and PACS networks.
Philips Medical Systems
Philips has completed integration of technology from PACS partner Sectra-Imtec with that developed by Philips. Company officials believe that the combined product lines give the vendor the technology it needs to support enterprise-wide filmless environments.
In new products contributed by Sectra, Philips introduced its Windows NT-based IDS4/dx diagnostic workstation line. IDS4/dx offers 1K or 2K configurations, and supports one, two, or four monitors. The vendor also showed Wise/lite, a smaller configuration of Sectra's Wise database management system. Wise/lite is optimized for teleradiology and cluster-based miniPACS environments.
Philips unveiled Release 4 of its EasyVision workstation line. The vendor has totally integrated DICOM communication, x-ray and CT/MR image processing, and display. EasyVision 4.0 also features software modules targeted for each modality.
The company introduced EasyLink, an HL-7-compliant interface that links modalities to radiology information systems. EasyLink was developed in collaboration with Mitra.
Philips also announced that Baptist Health Systems of South Florida has signed a letter of intent for installation of a large-scale PACS network for its four hospitals, including complete PACS integration with the facility's HIS. Philips estimates the value of the contract to be between $9 million and $12 million over the life of the five-year deal.
The company also reported success in its Inturis for Cardiology program. The vendor said it placed 45 systems in 1997.
Picker's Image Management division made its RSNA debut after being formed in April. In addition to positioning itself as an integrator of PACS technology from other vendors, the company used the RSNA show to unveil Java-based image distribution technology called JPACS. Developed in conjunction with partner Algotec, JPACS includes the JPACS/ Results and JPACS/Remote modules. JPACS/Remote is designed for diagnostic-quality remote teleradiology, and features 12-bit image manipulation and both lossless and lossy compression using wavelet and JPEG algorithms. The other module, JPACS/Results, communicates images and reports to referring physicians. JPACS/Remote is available now, while JPACS/Results will be available in six months.
Picker also displayed PACS technology in its booth from Applicare, Imation Cemax-Icon, Merge, Mitra, and Olicon.
The image management division has landed over 150 PACS customers since its inception, according to company officials. The company has also set up an integration laboratory that tests DICOM compliance and interoperability of third-party equipment. In other DICOM developments, the company demonstrated a DICOM modality worklist for CT, MR, and nuclear medicine in conjunction with Cerner and Mitra.
The vendor has also launched PickerConnect, a network infrastructure group within the image management division.
Radiographic Digital Imaging
RDI introduced CX-812M, a CCD-based digitizer for mammography applications that scans an image at 1600 x 1600 dpi and offers optical density of 0.01 to 3.6 OD. It also features autofeed capabilities and can scan two images at the same time, according to the Compton, CA-based firm. In the future, a program from Kettering, OH-based Qualia Computing that automatically detects microcalcifications and masses will be available as an option on CX-812M. The QCI program is a work-in-progress.
Rogan Medical Systems
Corporate relationships were among the bigger developments at the Rogan booth this year. The Waukesha, WI-based company announced that it will provide HyperPACS to RSNA newcomer Cares Built, which is developing a CCD-based digital detector. The system, which is scheduled to enter clinical trials this month, will also be sold by Rogan when it receives FDA 510(k) clearance.
The company's OEM relationship with Dutch x-ray firm Oldelft has also yielded dividends (PNN 8/97). Oldelft, which sells Rogan's HyperPACS in conjunction with its Digidelca digital chest imaging system, has installed Rogan PACS equipment at six sites worldwide.
In new product developments, Rogan will privately label Medweb's Medweb E-Mail plug-in, which allows selection and delivery of images and HIS reports to appropriate physicians via e-mail (PNN 12/97). Rogan will name the product HyperBrowser and expects shipments to begin in the first quarter of 1998.
The firm has also introduced what it calls a wireless T1 feature for teleradiology, which uses satellite technology to provide image transmission speeds equivalent to a T1 line. The feature is available now.
The company has begun shipments of its HyperRouter and HyperPACS Pro offerings (PNN 8/97).
A new face at the RSNA conference was Schick Technologies, a Long Island City, NY, company that has developed x-ray digitization detectors based on CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor), a semiconductor sensor manufacturing process that is cheaper than that used to fabricate CCDs.
Schick's first products are for bone densitometry and dental x-ray applications, but the firm has developed an 8 x 8-cm version of its detector for digital spot mammography applications that it is offering to OEMs. Schick will have an 18 x 24-cm array with a 40-micron pixel size available by the first quarter of 1998 and also intends to develop a 14 x 17 CMOS array.
Sectra emphasized its growing OEM relationship with Philips Medical Systems in North America. The Swedish PACS vendor is working with Philips at three sites in North America, including a new filmless site at Riverside General Hospital in Riverside, CA. That site is being installed now and is expected to go online in March.
The company also debuted IDS 4.0, which brings the Windows NT platform to the Sectra workstation line (PNN 9/97). Sectra intends to phase out the Unix version of IDS in the U.S.
In work-in-progress developments, Sectra showed a Web engine that interfaces with its Wise database management system to distribute images and reports to clinicians.
Seiko Instruments USA
Seiko of San Jose, CA, debuted its VCX-1000 video-capture box, which takes RGB video signals of up to 160 MHz and converts the data into printer formats, including PostScript.
The company also displayed its ColorPoint 1820 and ColorPoint 1830PS dual-mode, DICOM-ready printers. The printers can generate either thermal wax transfer or dye sublimation prints.
Shared Medical Systems
SMS highlighted Radiologist Center, a work-in-progress workstation that integrates a PACS workstation from Olicon with SMS healthcare information systems, including the company's Radiology Management System, as well as patient-care systems. The product will allow radiologists to view prior results and patient history at the same workstation where they read images. Radiologist Center will also feature a transcription system with a voice-recognition option, according to the company.
The Malvern, PA-based firm has also added a Windows NT-based clinical workstation with the introduction of SMS Medical Imaging Version 23.2.
Siemens Medical Systems
In new product developments, Siemens emphasized three new teleradiology packages for the company's MagicView 50 PC-based teleradiology offering (PNN 11/97).
The Iselin, NJ-based company rolled out multimedia annotation features for its Sienet PACS software (PNN 6/97). The company's multimedia reporting package allows a number of capabilities, including the ability to contain images in an e-mail message, according to Siemens.
Siemens also displayed MagicWeb, a server that allows referring physicians access to diagnostic images and reports via Web browsers.
The vendor is also positioning itself as an integrator of multiple healthcare information systems. Siemens officials also discussed the efforts of its PACS consulting group, which provides consulting before, during, and after the implementations of PACS.
Silicon Graphics demonstrated its O2 and Octane workstations, as well as its Origin servers for database management and Web capabilities.
Sony highlighted UPA-D3, a work-in-progress DICOM print server. With the server, users can download an image, process it into a DICOM format, and output it to a printer, according to the Park Ridge, NJ-based company.
The company also showed two work-in-progress printers: UP-980, a black-and-white, full-page Multiscan video graphic printer that produces hard-copy or transparency images, and UP-960, a video thermal black-and-white printer.
Sprint demonstrated a live video telemedicine link between the Baltimore VA Medical Center and a booth at the show to demonstrate the value of video to enhance radiological consulting from remote sites, according to the Washington, DC-based company.
Sterling Diagnostic Imaging
Sterling of Greenville, SC, has taken a broad approach to PACS, offering software from multiple OEM partners as part of its iiSys concept rather than develop its own product in house. The company has been developing close ties with ISG Technologies, however, and announced the signing of an agreement with the Canadian company for access to its new VR line of Windows NT workstations. Two of Sterling's PACS sites are up and running.
Sterling received 510(k) clearance the week before the conference for its primary archive offering, iiSys Store, which was developed by a German company called Image Devices.
Sterling also debuted several new printer lines in its iiLinx family. The iiLinx Digital 400 is a new printer based on Helios dry laser technology for high-end applications, with an improved throughput of 60 films an hour. Contact 400 is a 14 x 17 thermal dry printer for CT, MRI, ultrasound, and nuclear medicine applications, while Solid Inkjet 400 uses a new phase-change ink technology that prints to film or paper. Sterling also showcased its wet laser printing technology.
For the company's DirectRay digitization technology, Sterling displayed a work-in-progress monitor with a resolution of 2560 x 3200 pixels. The monitor will be commercialized in the first quarter of 1998.
StorageTek spotlighted its Medical Archive Solution, which works with technology provided by PACS vendors to support filmless environments, according to the Louisville, CO-based firm. Medical Archive Solution includes application storage management software that provides a direct connection between a PACS and the network-attached storage. Medical Archive Solution employs an online RAID disk coupled with the company's high-capacity Nearline automated tape offering. Network security products, as well as worldwide on-site support and service, are also available.
StorComm focused on its alliance with telecommunications provider BT Health to jointly offer a complete telemedicine solution to the National Health Service in the U.K. StorComm will provide its ImageAccess system, which provides enterprise-wide distribution of images and related patient data.
Sun highlighted the ability of its Java Enterprise Computing environment to move complex information from desktops to networks and servers where the data can be centrally managed, according to the Mountain View, CA-based firm.
Sunquest Information Systems
This Tucson-based information systems company displayed enhancements for its FlexiRad RIS product. In cooperation with ultrasound miniPACS firm ALI Technologies, Sunquest has built a DICOM-based image viewer into FlexiRad to enable users to see reference-quality medical images alongside RIS data.
The company is also adding support to FlexiRad for Crystal Reports, a Microsoft standard for report writing.
FlexiRad also has a new Windows-based graphical user interface.
Swissray, of Hitzkirch, Switzerland, received FDA clearance for its AddOn-Bucky CCD-based digital detector just prior to the conference. Swissray plans to offer its detectors as part of AddOn-Multi-System, a complete multipurpose C-arm x-ray system that must also earn final regulatory clearance before it can be sold in the U.S. AddOn-Multi-Systems are already being shipped in Europe, with the first system going to a hospital in Langenthal, Switzerland. Swissray also plans to develop chest and ceiling-mounted C-arm systems, according to Ueli Laupper, vice president of international sales and marketing.
AddOn-Bucky is a 14 x 17-inch detector, with a 2.5K x 2.5K matrix and resolution of 3 line pairs/mm. The system's contrast resolution is much higher than that of film, according to Laupper. Once clearance is received, AddOn-Multi-System will carry a list price of around $400,000.
In Swissray Information Solutions developments, the division announced a distribution deal with EMED for that company's PACS products (see EMED story above). Swissray will not sell EMED's teleradiology offerings in the U.S., but will elsewhere.
TDK introduced DICOM-compliant Medical Grade CD-R disks, which are the first-ever standalone line of CD-R media to be issued a unique FDA 510(k) clearance number, according to the Port Washington, NY-based company.
Toshiba America Medical Systems
In addition to displaying Agfa's Impax PACS line, Tustin, CA-based Toshiba displayed a work-in-progress 100-disk DVD jukebox. Toshiba believes DVD offers more capacity and reduced cost compared with other archival methods such as magneto-optical disk.
Toshiba also demonstrated work-list management capabilities with IDXrad RIS from IDX Systems.
Vidar discussed VXR-LS, a new laser digitizer that will be targeted at mid-range PACS and teleradiology applications (PNN 11/97). The company anticipates availability of the digitizer by the next RSNA meeting, if not sooner.
The Herndon, VA, company also highlighted Film Director, an optional multifilm feeder for the VXR-12 plus and VXR-8 digitizers.
Voice Activated Systems Technologies
VAST, of Santa Rosa, CA, introduced the VAST Radiology/Express NoteTaker, a speech recognition product that features continuous speech recognition technology provided by Dragon Systems. Other capabilities on the product include exam templates and macros, as well as the ability to correct errors with voice commands.
This Scottish company has developed Voxarlib, a software library it is providing to OEMs, who use the library to develop 3-D image processing applications. The Edinburgh company claims that applications written in Voxarlib are capable of complex 3-D reconstructions, like volume rendering, while running on off-the-shelf PCs.