Health IT crowds the spotlight from classroom to exhibit hall
If the presence of Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise was any indication, health information technology (HIT) has moved into a permanent place on the front burner at RSNA. From specialty vendors to the larger players to educational sessions, everyone was talking about interoperability, IT standards and better system communications. Know DICOM, XML, HL7, CCR and other relevant health IT terms or move forward at your own peril.

HIT developments, such as messaging systems, intelligent routers, automated worklists and prefetching capabilities allow for improved workflow and productivity. Virtually every vendor and most session speakers discussed the ongoing work on IT standards and how products keep up with the latest versions. But while many standards remain a work-in-progress to a large degree, many healthcare organizations are taking matters into their own hands. Practices and hospitals are putting health IT solutions in place to facilitate electronic data exchange with referring clinicians. Rather than watching health IT pass them by or being concerned about big investments in technology that could become obsolete, healthcare organizations are working with vendors to figure out how to reap the benefits that interoperability, integration, connectivity and communication have been promising.

And there is no shortage of companies willing to help them do that. Smaller vendors have jumped at the opportunity to step in where the larger, more established vendors may not have kept pace over the past few years. However, several of those vendors have now initiated a new focus on health IT solutions. They may not be as nimble as the little guys but only time will tell if their experience and market power will make the difference in the health IT arena.

Advantech demonstrated its upgraded POC Slim Series Panel computers to assist medical personnel care for patients. Upgraded models have an optional built-in uninterruptible power supply that provides 30 minutes of operational power for safer data storage and graceful shutdown of applications.

Amirsys added an Imaging Anatomy Module to STATdx, the first point-of-care, clinical decision support system for imaging. STATdx is designed to support the busy radiologist by increasing speed, accuracy and diagnostic confidence in complex cases. STATdx streamlines workflow by reducing the time required to research and complete a difficult imaging analysis.

aycan Medical Systems highlighted the aycan workstation OsiriX, a cost-effective certified image processing software dedicated to DICOM images for navigation and visualization of multislice/multidimensional studies.

Cedara Software showcased a variety of new technologies for OEM/VARs designed to unite image and information management in the healthcare industry. The C4 (Cedara Clinical Control Center) allows clinical applications and plug-ins to be tightly integrated into a single workstation sharing system resources. Cedara also introduced aXigate to help integrate radiology information into general healthcare workflow. aXigate is an IT platform for OEM/VARs with a web-based back-office architecture allowing a single point of access to comprehensive clinical and diagnostic information.

Compressus showcased a comprehensive suite of enterprise systems integration solutions. The MEDxConnect System technology provides seamless connectivity and interoperability between diagnostic acquisition devices, PACS, HIS, RIS, and their related information systems of integrated digital medical imaging and data management. Key components of the MEDxConnect Enterprise Integration solution include:  the Medical Message Mediator (M3), the Virtual Worklist and the Systems Management Dashboard (SMD). 

The M3 uses the communications protocols and semantics of each participating information system to control the flow of images, reports, messages, standard patient demographics and other important data for diagnosis and treatment planning of a patient between otherwise independent and disparate systems. The MEDxConnect Virtual Worklist is a software product that runs on the MEDxConnect M3 server and leverages the M3 integration capabilities. By creating one integrated Enterprise diagnostic network, the Virtual Worklist maximizes productivity and reduce spikes in workload. The Compressus MEDxConnect Systems Management Dashboard (SMD) provides the needed overview in monitoring Enterprise activities and assist in identifying inefficiencies or bottlenecks in workflow.  Using a variety of numeric and graphic tools to display workflow operations, the SMD is a powerful tool that will enable users to find and correct inefficiencies and make the healthcare enterprise more efficient.

DeJarnette Research Systems spotlighted version 2.0 of its Intelligent Router, which was in advance beta testing at several facilities with an expected release data last month. The company also released an upgrade for its PACSware Migration Toolkit at the end of 2006. Based on customer requests for support for the migration of legacy Canon PACS, version 2.1 of the toolkit now supports these migrations and includes separate GUI for scheduling, separate pre-fetch and background migration schedules, wider support for DICOM objects and improved capture of DICOM errors.

Foresight TIMS DICOM GatewayForesight Imaging introduced several new features to improve the workflow and functionality of its TIMS DICOM Gateway software. The Update Patient Information feature enhances connectivity of DICOM modalities that are unable to communicate with DICOM Modality Work List. TIMS receives the study from the modality and enables the technologist to match the received study with a DMWL query. The updated study can then be sent to PACS. With this new TIMS feature, users can append patient demographics or correct patient information errors in studies received via CD/DVD or from other sources.  

GE Centricity Imaging — RIS-ICGE Healthcare launched its Centricity Imaging — RIS-IC (formerly IDX Imagecast) solution, the latest web-based radiology information management software aimed at helping clinicians manage the administrative and clinical requirements of a radiology department in any setting. GE’s Centricity Imaging RIS-IC solution offers simplified access to rules-based multi-organizational and multi-time zone scheduling, multiple reporting options, outcome monitoring as well as patient and image tracking to help streamline department workflow and increase overall productivity. The enhanced workflow provided by these features combined with closed-loop reporting, redundant data entry reduction and embedded voice recognition enables clinicians to dedicate more time to delivering high quality care to a larger population of patients.

Features such as integrated document management supports paperless workflow and an Assisted Patient Matching Module (APMM) helps reduce medical errors through improved patient identification. An integrated mammography administration module helps maintain records on different aspects of breast imaging exams.

MEDITECH highlighted its Imaging and Therapeutic Services 5.6 release, featuring role-based desktops. These user-centric desktops provide radiologists, technologists and transcriptionists with extensive functionality from a single portal, designed to fit their specific needs.

NeoTool introduced its latest healthcare integration engine release which enhances patient data exchanges with improved XML support. The added XML support encompasses the Continuity of Care (CCR) data standards, enabling more robust patient data exchanges between electronic medical records. With the combination of CCR and HL7 data, radiologists and physicians can receive more patient information which can aid their interpretations. NeoTool’s healthcare integration engine broadens the amount of patient information that can be communicated, reducing duplicate work and delivering complete information efficiently. 

Pegasus Imaging Corp. highlighted its JPEG 2000 Transcoder for the PICTools MedX Software Development Kit (SDK). This JPEG 2000 technology allows many operations to be performed without decompressing and recompressing images, thus eliminating generational loss. The Transcoder is a low-level C library that allows developers to build applications that convert JPEG 2000 images from one layout to another. Because the Transcoder does not decode and then re-encode images, no generational loss is introduced by the process.

Siemens Medical Solutions displayed its REMIND (Reliable Extraction and meaningful Inference form Nonstructured Data) platform that includes data extraction, data combination, and probabilistic inference. REMIND searches through patient records and analyzes data in structured and nonstructured form. The company’s latest RIS software, syngo Workflow Version 28.0 SLR, was designed to help customers optimize and streamline their resource and patient care workflows, while assisting them in controlling costs and meeting business objectives. It supports both UNIX and LINUX operating systems, Microsoft Windows-based PCs as workstations, and enhanced graphical user interface (GUI) functionality. Through the use of its extensive communication features, document scanning, sophisticated clinical alerts, embedded voice recognition and advanced workflow management, it can help maximize radiological department productivity and resource efficiency.