Vendors eye growth outside traditional markets

November 2, 2005

Several vendors have tailored their PACS and informatics products specifically to meet the digital imaging needs of community hospitals, dedicated imaging centers, and large regional hospital groups.

Several vendors have tailored their PACS and informatics products specifically to meet the digital imaging needs of community hospitals, dedicated imaging centers, and large regional hospital groups.

At the RSNA meeting, Agfa will show its RIS/PACS/speech product, a stand-alone RIS for acute care, and a second RIS and RIS/PACS/speech product intended for diagnostic imaging centers.

Amicas will announce an integrated RIS/PACS designed (with Vision-Reach) for imaging centers, as well as a product for the ambulatory market.

"The ambulatory market is rapidly adopting PACS after RIS," said Peter McClennen, president of Amicas. "The imaging industry is under pressure, study volumes keep growing, and staffing is tight. Only automation and digitization will solve these problems."

As collaboration and partnerships between independent outpatient imaging centers, reading centers, and physician offices become more common, PACS vendors must ensure reliable connectivity among various facilities, said Yassin Sallam, sales and marketing support specialist at Brit Systems. The communication of image data and information between these disparate entities should simulate the workflow in a radiology department.

In larger institutions, the management of multiple sites, reading groups, and information domains presents a growing opportunity for digital image management, according to Bob Cooke, executive director of marketing and network systems at Fujifilm Medical Systems USA.

"A major hot spot is the evolution toward the so-called supergroups: nationwide radiology service providers for emergency department or primary interpretations. These service providers face several challenges in terms of bandwidth, data integrity, and workflow," Cooke said.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, many vendors anticipate an increased demand for PACS in the smaller, independent hospital segment.

INFINITT/SmartPACS will show its integrated RIS/PACS designed to more affordably deliver workflow efficiency and productivity for healthcare providers of various sizes, according to Bob Blake, vice president of sales at SmartPACS.

Misys will unveil its Misys Image Management and Misys Radiology systems. New features of Misys Image Management include batch report signing and integrated speech recognition. Misys Radiology will offer hold queue, speech recognition, DICOM structured reporting, and medical necessity checking.

PACS and informatics vendors are continuing to expand their expertise outside the traditional hospital-based radiology market, as digital imaging management becomes necessary throughout the entire hospital enterprise and beyond.

"Physician specialty groups and freestanding imaging centers with access to capital and state-of-the-art equipment are steadily decreasing the volumes, revenues, and overall profitability of hospital-based imaging services," said Dave Jones, senior product manager for Misys Healthcare Systems.