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Sterling PACS program gains steam with sale to Tennessee hospital


Wellmont Bristol contract valued at over $1 millionSterling Diagnostic Imaging's PACS efforts continue to build momentum. The Greenville, SC-based vendor has signed on Wellmont Bristol Regional Medical Center in Bristol, TN, to be the company's

Wellmont Bristol contract valued at over $1 million

Sterling Diagnostic Imaging's PACS efforts continue to build momentum. The Greenville, SC-based vendor has signed on Wellmont Bristol Regional Medical Center in Bristol, TN, to be the company's first large-scale PACS site in the U.S.

The three-year contract, valued at over $1 million, designates Sterling as Wellmont Bristol's sole vendor for electronic imaging. The project will build on the 375-bed hospital's existing Linx networking system, which Wellmont Bristol uses for in-house image distribution and printing, as well as for home teleradiology applications.

The first step in the agreement will be to install diagnostic workstations from ISG Technologies, as well as integrate a HIS/RIS interface with the hospital's existing HIS and RIS. Sterling also hopes to add archiving capability for ultrasound and nuclear medicine by the end of 1997, with the rest of the modalities scheduled for integration by the end of 1998. The archiving component is being supplied by German archive vendor Image Devices.

An asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) network will be installed to allow for speedy data transfer between workstations and the multi-terabyte archive, which will be employed for both short- and long-term archiving. Over 130,000 studies will be stored per year when all modalities are integrated, according to Gary Sadow, vice president of electronic imaging for Sterling. In addition, Wellmont Bristol will be one of the first sites to receive Direct Radiography, which is slated for an early 1998 introduction following installation of the networking infrastructure and the technology's 510(k) certification by the Food and Drug Administration. The company filed a 510(k) application for DR in the last week of August.

Wellmont Bristol decided to enhance its electronic imaging efforts to improve its service to both physicians and customers. In addition to allowing providers timely access to images, the PACS network will also cut back on lost films, said Dr. William Johnstone, medical director of radiology at Wellmont Bristol.

Wellmont Bristol physicians also anticipate that inclusion of DR will confer substantial clinical benefits. For example, the technique could decrease radiation exposure to patients by reducing the number of repeat exams, Johnstone said.

"I think it will maintain and possibly even surpass the image quality that we have gotten used to with film-screens and other capture methods," Johnstone said.

The agreement with Wellmont Bristol adds another large-scale PACS contract to Sterling's electronic imaging portfolio. Earlier this year, the company announced a multimillion-dollar contract with Atlantic Health Sciences of Saint John in New Brunswick, Canada (SCAN 4/16/97). That deal covered an installation of an enterprise-wide PACS network, with provisions for including DR when it becomes available in 1998.

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