Thin-client architecture taps 3D viewing for enterprise

November 1, 2008

In a foundering national economy, itisn't surprising that capital budgetconstraint has become a huge issuein medical imaging.

In a foundering national economy, it isn't surprising that capital budget constraint has become a huge issue in medical imaging. From this financial pinch, two subtrends have emerged in the area of 3D advanced visualization.

First is the demand for thin-client servers that allow distribution of advanced visualization technology throughout the enterprise, over both local area and wide area networks. Vital Images is one 3D company responding to market demands of anytime, anywhere access to advanced visualization tools.

"At RSNA, Vital Images will showcase our ViTAL Enterprise, a solution that provides customers with unlimited enterprise access to ViTAL's complete advanced visualization solution, including clinical solutions and services such as education, consulting, and maintenance," said Nichole Gerszewski, marketing communications manager.

Enterprise access is a major shift in advanced visualization demands. Five years ago, 3D viewing was performed primarily by radiologists at a standalone workstation. Now, products like Vital Images' web-based Vital connect solution allow easy access to 2D, 3D, and 4D medical images throughout the enterprise.

Visage Imaging's CS Thin Client has several advantages over conventional PACS workstation configurations, where each workstation must be purchased, installed, and maintained individually, according to company officials. At the RSNA meeting, Visage will show how the Thin Client package combines breadand- butter 2D reading with leadingedge 3D and 4D postprocessing in a single viewer. The viewer can also be integrated with any RIS or PACS to achieve optimal workflow.

The demand for advanced visualization tools has inspired other vendors to add 3D imaging to their product catalogs. Intelerad has added not only mammography, PET/CT, and orthopedic templating to its product offerings, but advanced 3D imaging tools as well.

"Our solution now allows customers to streamline their workflow while maximizing prior RIS/PACS investments," said Delia So, manager of Intelerad's Marketing and Business Solutions.

A second trend developing in advanced visualization as a result of budget reductions is an increased emphasis on using existing human resources as efficiently as possible.

"Radiology directors do not have the resources to throw full-time equivalent staff at a workflow problem," said Dr. Rob Falk, who is the founder and medical director of 3DR Laboratories.

In Chicago, 3DR Laboratories will exhibit its outsourced 3D postprocessing service that allows hospitals 24/7 access to its 3DR thinclient server.

"Our business model allows us to offer advanced visualization services on a 'try before you buy' basis, with no initial capital outlay," Falk said.

The company's subsequent subscription pricing moves the cost of 3D labs from seven figures to a low monthly operational cost, according to Falk.

"Through what we call 'rightsourcing,' hospitals can look at developing the most efficient combination of in-house personnel and outsourced services," he said.