What role will Unix play in PACS market?A lot of ink has flowed lately in this and many other publications detailing the inroads Windows NT has made in PACS. Vendors moving to NT as their PACS operating system have cited the lower cost of
A lot of ink has flowed lately in this and many other publications detailing the inroads Windows NT has made in PACS. Vendors moving to NT as their PACS operating system have cited the lower cost of software based on the Microsoft platform, as well as perceived better interoperability with other healthcare information systems, as the rationale behind their decision.
Of course, the gains of NT have come primarily at the expense of Unix-based systems, which are either being thrust into a complementary role in PACS networks or are being discarded altogether. To counteract this trend, Unix developers are actively looking to improve their competitive position with NT. One example is Sun Microsystems' debut of a line of inexpensive Unix-based workstations, as well as a new family of storage offerings (PNN 2/98). Sun has targeted medical imaging and PACS as key market segments for its new product introductions.
Will these moves be enough to reverse NT's gains, or at least secure a tenable competitive position for Unix in PACS? It's too early to tell, of course. But indications are that this will be a tricky proposition. While Sun's move to release low-cost, Unix-based systems is a smart one and will score points with its PACS vendors, hospital IT departments are increasingly demanding systems based on NT. With the era of integrated image and information systems looming on the horizon, PACS purchasing decisions are no longer made solely on the basis of the technology's benefits to the radiology department.
-By Erik L. Ridley, Editor