McKessonHBOC targets enterprise-wide environmentsCompany seeks to mine market interest in integrated systemsDriven by the need to be more efficient, healthcare institutions are increasingly showing interest in moving away from
McKessonHBOC targets enterprise-wide environmentsCompany seeks to mine market interest in integrated systems
Driven by the need to be more efficient, healthcare institutions are increasingly showing interest in moving away from department-level information technology solutions towards integrated, enterprise-wide image and information management systems. In this environment, some market analysts have predicted that the systems integration experience of HIS firms may make them formidable competitors in the digital image management sector.
One such firm, McKessonHBOC, hopes its emphasis on providing enterprise-wide information management systems will lead to success in the PACS market. In medical imaging, these systems provide work-flow improvements and efficiency gains for both referring physicians and radiologists, said Bob Wells, vice president of product management for McKessonHBOC's Atlanta-based Imaging Solutions Group.
"We're focusing on delivering images on an enterprise-wide basis," he said. "Additionally, we are taking patient chart information and bringing that into the radiology department, allowing radiologists to make informed decisions."
Before it was acquired by medical supply giant McKesson last month, HBO & Company purchased PACS and HIS firm Imnet Systems in August (PNN 9/98). The two firms had been partners since 1996, with HBOC privately labeling Imnet's Electronic Information Warehouse, which included the MedVision PACS offering, as part of HBOC's Pathways Image Manager document and medical image management system.
A new concept
Imnet first arrived on the PACS scene at the 1996 RSNA meeting, where it marketed its MedVision PACS product as an "infoPACS" solution, in which PACS was integrated into an enterprise- wide information system. At the time, MedVision was based on display software acquired from a company called Evergreen Technologies. That software lacked the robustness required for diagnostic review, however.
In order to rectify this and other shortcomings of the software, Imnet in 1997 entered into a value-added reseller agreement with ISG Technologies to use that Canadian company's viewing software. Access Radiology of Lexington, MA, contributes its wavelet compression technique as well as other components of its Framewave teleradio-logy offering. Those relationships have been continued under McKessonHBOC's Imaging Solutions group, which contains all of the business groups of Imnet Systems, including document imaging.
Teleradiology versions of MedVision have been installed at several sites, but the company has yet to install its PACS as part of an integrated image and information system at any location. A MedVision PACS network is scheduled to go live in the first quarter, however. The site will be an enterprise-wide, integrated image and information system installation, Wells said. As is its policy, the company declined to reveal the customer that is installing the system. The firm expects to install several more of these infoPACS systems in 1999.
The MedVision PACS is based on the Windows NT operating system for both workstations and servers. The company believes its work-flow engine is a strong differentiator compared with other vendor's offerings.
Integration of MedVision into other HBOC information systems is progressing well, Wells said. It can now accept HL7 data transfers from HBOC's HIS offering. The ability of other HBOC offerings to deliver medical images natively is still being developed, with completion expected in the second quarter, Wells said. Sales of MedVision are handled through HBOC's corporate sales organization.
Prior to its acquisition by HBOC, Imnet Systems maintained OEM relationships for its products, including MedVision, with HBOC competitors such as Cerner, CompuCare, HealthVision, IDX Systems, and Phamis. Many market watchers had speculated that those agreements would be terminated following Imnet's incorporation into HBOC. To date, however, McKessonHBOC has not received any news regarding official termination of any of those agreements, Wells said.
HBOC's merger with McKesson is not expected to have an immediate impact on the company's PACS sales efforts, he said.
McKessonHBOC's infoPACS concept is intriguing and in line with market interest in integrated image and information systems. Until the vendor is able to execute its innovative strategy, however, it is difficult to accurately assess the future of the company in this competitive market sector. Rollout of the product line finally appears imminent, though, and successful implementations of these systems could immediately raise the firm's profile in PACS. McKessonHBOC will surely be a company to watch in 1999.
Information Technology Business
301 Perimeter Center North
Atlanta, GA 30346
Sally Love Connally, vice president and general manager, Imaging Solutions Group
PACS product line
PACS OEM partners
ISG Technologies (viewer) and Access Radiology (wavelet compression/decompression technology for teleradiology)
Direct and OEM sales
McKessonHBOC believes that its concept of an integrated image and information system is key to its success in the digital image management sector and will continue to market the benefits of that offering to grow its business.