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Wanchoo has big plans for GE's PACS division


Wanchoo has big plans for GE's PACS divisionExecutive targets 40% growth for IIS group in 1998GE Medical Systems has placed renewed emphasis on becoming a dominant player in all of its medical imaging markets, and PACS apparently is no

Wanchoo has big plans for GE's PACS division

Executive targets 40% growth for IIS group in 1998

GE Medical Systems has placed renewed emphasis on becoming a dominant player in all of its medical imaging markets, and PACS apparently is no exception. The vendor continues to build on the structure it put in place after it acquired the assets of Lockheed Martin Medical Imaging Systems last year (PNN 5/97).

While Lockheed Martin had been known primarily for its contracts in the military and Veterans Affairs segments, GE has been able to make some inroads into the private sector (PNN 11/97). But the Milwaukee company isn't standing pat: GE has set an ambitious goal of 40% revenue growth from PACS in 1998.

GE's efforts to improve its market position received a big boost with the addition last year of widely respected PACS veteran Vishal Wanchoo, who previously worked for Agfa (PNN 12/98). Wanchoo hasn't wasted any time since joining GE's Integrated Imaging Solutions division late last year as general manager, making his presence felt in the Mt. Prospect, IL-based group's service, marketing, and product development efforts.

One of the first moves that Wanchoo spearheaded was the integration of the service infrastructure previously maintained by Lockheed Martin into GE's 2000-person-strong service organization. The integration, finished in January, allows one organization, called HealthNet Services/IIS, to manage all of GE's network implementations. The vendor's InSite 24 x 7 remote diagnostic service has also been shifted into HNS/IIS, which is headed up by Mike Battuello, according to Wanchoo.

"It's a much more integrated, one-face-to-the-customer approach," he said. "We will continue to expand the service organization as our market size grows by leveraging GE's service people."

The division's marketing approach has also been consolidated. Instead of two separate teams for upstream and downstream marketing, the two groups have merged together into one marketing organization that handles all trade show efforts, advertising, sales support, RFPs, and new product introductions, as well as interactions with the engineering group. The marketing team, headed up by GE veteran Thomas Kennedy, will also be expanded, Wanchoo said.

On the technology side, GE has developed its product road map. A main focus is improving the fault tolerance of GE's PACS, with the ultimate goal of having no single points of failures in the system, Wanchoo said. The vendor is also working to improve its ability to hook up multiple sites as part of a multifacility, enterprise-wide PACS.

GE is also devoting attention to developing its Platinum line of Windows NT-based workstations. Ranging from high-end diagnostic workstations to clinical review offerings, the Platinum offerings will also employ Java technology. The company is targeting a fourth-quarter release for the complete family of workstations. Down the road, speech recognition capabilities will be included in the Platinum line (PNN 1/98), but not in the initial release, Wanchoo said.

GE is also continuing to investigate the use of Web technology, particularly in the realm of communicating images to referring physicians. The company's current Web-Link offering has been installed at six sites, and the firm is working to refine the product, including adding additional security features, Wanchoo said.

In storage developments, GE will soon introduce a low-end, scalable Macintosh-based archive offering. Employing magneto-optical disks, the archive will be targeted at smaller hospitals that want to start out with small-scale PACS implementations, Wanchoo said.

GE is also placing more emphasis on its ability to provide complete digital radiology department solutions, including its Fuji CR as well as the upcoming Apollo direct digital radiography product. While GE expects to have a test site incorporating Apollo into a PACS by the end of the year, the company believes that both CR and DR will carve out their own market niches.

"They will definitely co-exist, and we see them co-existing for some time," Wanchoo said. "We continue to see large interest in PACS, DR, and the combinations of CR, DR, and PACS."

But IIS is not just confining itself to its traditional radiology or cardiology products. The group is actively looking at ways of delivering other clinical information throughout the enterprise, such as hospital or laboratory information systems. GE is evaluating its options on how to accomplish this goal, Wanchoo said.

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