Information integration and expanded access were common themes
among exhibitors displaying healthcare information technology (IT)
products at the 2006 Annual Healthcare Information and Management
Systems Society Conference & Exhibition (HIMSS06), held
February 12 to 16 in San Diego, CA. Picture archiving and
communication system (PACS) vendors were particularly focused on
breaking down barriers of access and bringing more capabilities to
more users, regardless of location. The following are highlights
from a few such exhibitors.
Siemens highlights continuum of care
"Patient care is no longer about one doctor's office or one
hospital bed," said Tom Miller, President, Healthcare IT Division,
Siemens Medical Solutions (Malvern, PA). "It's about care delivery
occurring across multiple settings and among interdisciplinary care
teams, each with a network of collaborative support systems that
must act in a coordinated and timely manner."
Addressing that issue, Siemens' exhibit featured the company's
newest workflow-driven health information solution (HIS), Soarian.
According to the company, Soarian marries clinical and
administrative cycles with integrated image acquisition, radiology
information systems (RIS), PACS, and the postprocessing capability
of the syngo Suite in a single system. The longitudinal clinical
repository provides clinicians with real-time, browser-based access
to all images as well as patient histories, demographics,
allergies, and test results.
The system also features embedded analytics designed to
continuously monitor and measure key business drivers and identify
areas for improvement. Web-based push technology allows the system
to notify users when new information relevant to their role becomes
available. It also automatically pushes an alert to the appropriate
end user when the system determines that a metric is outside the
acceptable range of performance. Once corrective actions are taken,
the system can monitor progress toward the defined goal.
Cedara focuses on integration
The theme for Cedara Software (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada), a
Merge eMed company, was integration of image data and multiple
clinical information sources on a single desktop, throughout a
single enterprise, or from sources across the globe.
As part of that theme, the company displayed the Cedara I-Reach,
a Web-based DICOM server designed to provide access to relevant
information in the proper context accompanied by clinically
relevant tools. This solution securely provides Internet-based
remote access to images, reports, and workflow and administration
tools. The scalable, thin-client format allows for integration with
HIS and RIS as well as original equipment manufacturer (OEM)
archives. It provides basic image manipulation and measurement
tools and access to current and prior images using the same user
interface as the Cedara I-SoftView system. Images are compressed
using DICOM JPEG 2000 techniques to facilitate loading and display
of large data sets across low bandwidths.
Advanced functionality is available in a variety of options,
including multiplanar reformatting (MPR) with thick slab support,
maximum intensity projection (MIP), 3-dimensional (3D) volume
rendering, batch reformatting, and curve reformatting. Orthopedic
tools and templates are also available and include specialized
tools, such as image relation and Cobb angle measurements.
Cedara also showcased its new Clinical Control Center (C4)
designed to allow the user to launch independent viewing
applications from a single patient worklist through the use of
configurable protocols. According to the company, this capability
offers the seamless integration of third-party clinical plug-ins
from any vendor. At HIMSS06, Cedara demonstrated the system by
using a range of the company's own viewing applications, including
Cedara PET/CT, IllumiView, OrthoWorks, I-Response, PrimeLung, and
"Cedara's toolkit approach to integrating imaging data and
clinical information significantly expands the value and
availability of patient information," said Cedara President, Brian
Pedlar. "Workflow, integration, and information exchange represent
an important piece of the solution for electronic medical records,
system integrators, and process management companies. Any
healthcare IT provider that wants to broaden imaging revenue
opportunities within its customer base or is faced with the
challenge of providing tight integration between image data and
multiple clinical information sources on a single desktop will find
these tool-kits of value."
Amicas enhances Vision PACS
At HIMSS06, Amicas, Inc. (Boston, MA) highlighted several
enhancements to its Vision Series PACS, including a secure portal
for referring physicians to obtain real-time status and results
without dedicated hardware or software.
Vision Reach, a new distribution feature, was designed to
enhance communication between radiologists and referring physicians
(Figure 1). This feature provides a secure connection for the
display of key images, including annotations, reports, and relevant
histories through a zero-installed, client-free Web-based
application. Vision Reach integrates the radiology report from the
RIS with key images from the PACS and creates a single multimedia
report. Then, using common e-mail and secure messaging, the system
alerts the referring physician that the report is available on any
e-mail-enabled device, including personal computers and
"While PACS adoption has been tremendous, technologic barriers
such as system downloads, plug-ins, and challenging security issues
have hampered the widespread adoption of PACS by referring
physicians," said company President, Peter McClennen. "Our research
indicates that a PACS is generally used by <10% of a facility's
referring physicians. Referring physicians do not sit at desks with
high-end computers. They are highly mobile, working at numerous
facilities without widespread computer access."
"By eliminating installation and any client-level application
requirement, we are able to reach a tremendously wide range of
referring physicians with this exciting new product," said Kang
Wang, PhD, Vice President of Research and Development.
Amicas also showcased the Vision Watch feature. This Web-based
tool provides automated, proactive quality of service, business
decision support, and system health monitoring of the Vision Series
PACS and can be accessed on any computer throughout the enterprise.
It includes study tracking and provides statistics and graphs
showing timeliness and consistency of study delivery as well as
reports, statistics, and graphs designed to aid in business
Fuji previews 3D viewing software
FUJIFILM Medical Systems USA, Inc. (Stamford, CT) previewed, as
a work-in-progress, the company's new integrated 3-dimensional (3D)
software package, Obliquus. Designed as a component of Fuji's
Synapse PACS, the software provides MIP and MPR capabilities.
Obliquus was designed to be an integral part of the Synapse
PACS, allowing interactive performance and diagnostic image quality
to be accessed throughout the system using the standard Synapse
"This 3D component is a step toward the realization of Fuji's
Comprehension Vision, which is our strategy for expanding Synapse
to cover all the functions of traditional systems such as RIS,
mammography, 3D, and reporting and decision support in one
comprehensive system," said Clay Larsen, Fuji's Vice President,
Marketing and Network Development. "It allows users to maintain
productivity by staying inside the Synapse application while still
accessing 3D functions."
"While it provides all the basic diagnostic 3D functions that
radiology uses today, this new component is a stepping stone on our
path to the complete Volume Exploration component of Fuji
Comprehension," added Bob Cooke, Executive Director of Marketing,
Network Systems. "Modalities are producing ever-increasing amounts
of volumetric data; increasingly, new ways to visualize that
information will become critical to the diagnostic process. While
this 3D component delivers integrated MIP/MPR, Volume Exploration
will offer fully integrated and high-resolution, interactive
visualization, providing a complete tool for radiologists."
Obliquus is currently available internationally to customers
using Synapse version 3.1.1 or higher. Both Obliquus and Volume
Exploration still require U.S. Food and Drug Administration 510(k)
approval before becoming available in the United States.