Vendors move closer to open PACS networking

December 25, 1991

Substantial progress has been made in developing the ACR/NEMAstandard for networking the imaging systems of various vendors.While full ACR/NEMA connectivity for new systems is still at leasta year away, equipment vendors are moving the process along

Substantial progress has been made in developing the ACR/NEMAstandard for networking the imaging systems of various vendors.While full ACR/NEMA connectivity for new systems is still at leasta year away, equipment vendors are moving the process along byopening up their proprietary protocols to third-party interfacedevelopers.

Picker International took a major step in that process at theRadiological Society of North America conference this month. Themultimodality imaging vendor signed agreements with four picturearchiving and communications systems firms to improve access toits scanner data and proprietary image networks.

Fuji also revealed that it has contracted with Analogic todevise an interface board for its computed radiography products.The medical film and electronic imaging vendor will make thisinterface available to PACS integrators that wish to connect toFuji equipment, according to David Armstrong, equipment divisiondirector for Fuji Medical Systems in Stamford, CT.

"A PACS vendor with a network will come to us and saythey have the entire thing wired but don't have a CR unit. Inmost cases we will cooperate," Armstrong said.

As part of Picker's PACS agreement:

  • DeJarnette Research Systems will integrate its ACR/

NEMA interface into Picker CT, MRI and nuclear systems;

  • Vortech Data will connect Picker's equipment to theACR/NEMA-based Imagelink digital system developed in cooperationwith Kodak;

  • Advanced Video Products will work with Picker to offerPAC systems using customized, non-ACR/NEMA interfaces; and

  • Cemax gained access to Picker image data for processingon its Sun Microsystems-based workstations.

Picker's intention is not to become a PACS supplier itselfbut to make its equipment compatible with the variety of PACSoptions on the market, said Timothy B. Hansen, vice president.

"We are adopting a very simple policy of connectivity,"Hansen said. "We want to have a port for the variety of workstationsor PAC systems that are going to evolve."

Picker will not be selling AVP equipment, so in that senseit will not be a PACS supplier. However, the vendor's decisionto open up fully to PACS will benefit the growth of this technology,said Thomas J. Goliash, president and CEO of AVP.

"The roadblocks are down from Picker's standpoint, hesaid. "They are taking an aggressive position to open uptheir architecture. We are developing PACS interfaces with them.Picker equipment and our equipment will tie together easily."

Although public disclosure from the scanner vendors has beenscant, many are preparing to move their systems onto ACR/NEMA-definednetworks, said Allan R. Griebenow, president and CEO of Vortech.

"A significant transition is happening. The major (imagingsystem) players certainly are defining network interfaces. Inthe future you will find an ACR/NEMA connection to be a networkconnection, not an individual modality or operating system connection,"he said.

Kodak strongly supports Vortech's open-system ACR/NEMA focus,said Carl F. Kohrt, general manager and vice president for HealthSciences. The world's largest medical film vendor will signalthe durability of its commitment to Vortech and electronic imagingshortly by increasing its equity investment in the smaller firm,Kohrt said at the RSNA meeting.