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Webmedx takes ASP route to grow RIS business


Webmedx takes ASP route to grow RIS businessJava-based products target radiology workflowWhile a growing number of imaging and information systems firms are turning their attention to the application service provider model, few are

Webmedx takes ASP route to grow RIS business

Java-based products target radiology workflow

While a growing number of imaging and information systems firms are turning their attention to the application service provider model, few are focusing exclusively on radiology information systems. But Webmedx believes that its expertise in RIS workflow software, combined with its growing portfolio of Internet-based products, leaves the company well-positioned to lead the RIS market out of the client-server Dark Ages.

Webmedx, formerly RadNet, has been in the RIS business since 1996. Its flagship product is RadWare, a Windows NT-based software package that evolved as a department-wide solution for integrating clinical information and streamlining the processes that support the day-to-day functions of a radiology department.

The first version of RadWare was alpha-tested at The Medical Center in Beaver, PA. In 1998 and 1999, the company secured a number of additional installations, including West Virginia University, Lowell Hospital (MA), DRA Imaging (Poughkeepsie, NY), Olympic Radiology (Seattle), and Ormond Beach Radiology (Orlando, FL). In addition, fellow radiology equipment and services provider InPhact used Webmedx technology to build its RadWeb service, which provides browser-based access to radiology images and reports and the ability to manipulate and enhance digital images.

Sensing the need to move beyond the limitations of LAN- and WAN-based data distribution and create a more enterprise-oriented approach, Webmedx last year began migrating its RIS from a traditional client-server platform to a Java-based ASP model. The company launched its ASP-based RIS and Clinical Report Service (CRS) at the American Healthcare Radiology Administrators meeting in August (HNN 8/23/00), and has been busy since expanding its portfolio with a number of additional ASP offerings.

As an ASP, the Webmedx RIS is designed to automate diagnostic information-gathering for hospital-based radiology departments and imaging centers. The RIS is deployed on a Sun computer and engineered with a three-tier architecture. The first tier is the client environment, which comprises a Netscape or Internet Explorer Web browser. The middle tier is a 100% Java application server providing the business logic and link to the back-end server. The final tier is an Oracle enterprise database server that stores and manages all data and voice inputs from across the application modules. These modules include scheduling, procedure management, dictation, transcription, and electronic signatures. Interpath Communications acts as the ASP host, and images are handled and stored on a third-party basis.

"Our offerings are primarily oriented toward report production and access," said David Nelson, CEO of Webmedx. "We are partnering with PACS companies to provide physicians with diagnostic-quality images that have high-bandwidth requirements, but our involvement with the image is strictly on a review-quality basis for referring physicians."

In addition to the RIS, the CRS ASP product handles the dictating, transcribing, signing, distributing, and accessing of reports for all clinical disciplines. Both products work in conjunction with the Clinical Information Portal, an Internet-based information utility for clinical applications that acts as the gateway for the RIS and CRS as well as the patients' clinical charts that store the reports produced with the Webmedx applications. Using a standard Web browser, users access the CIP and enter their user name and password. Once the user is authenticated, he or she can select the appropriate module and proceed to the worklists of completed exams.

"We believe the CIP will revolutionize the way clinical information is being created and accessed by healthcare providers," Nelson said. "As an ASP, we're able to deliver applications to customers on a per-transaction basis, which offers distinct advantages over traditional client-server information systems."

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