PACS Gain Tools to Speed Reading and Diagnosis

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PACS vendors' expanding portfolios outside of radiology into other 'ologies' - including cardiology, orthopedics and even pathology - was clear at last week's meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. Vendors also highlighted advanced visualization tools to help radiologists manage the ever-increasing amount of data and "image pollution" funneling into their workstations. New PACS optimized for the complex world of breast imaging are hitting the streets, too. New system features enable user-friendly hanging protocols and advanced visualization to ease the integration of mammography into the digital image mix. And finally, small hospitals and imaging centers are gaining some attention with new systems geared to their specific workflow and IT needs.

Overall, excitement for PACS was very high as facilities large and small seek to upgrade older systems or look to embark on digital image management for the first time. RSNA-goers were asking serious, practical questions on PACS - with little tire-kicking and more actual buying this year.

(Note: companies appear in alphabetical order.)

Agfa Corp. launched three new systems - Impax Web1000 5.0, Impax RIS/PACS for Imaging Centers and MediWeb RIS/PACS. New Impax Web features facilitate report distribution times and improve clinician workflow. Data Currency allows continuous synchronization of patient data from the Impax server to Web1000. MPEG integration offers improved stability, compatibility and control, enabling access within or beyond hospital firewalls, and a conference mode function allows authorized users to work interactively with each other and use instant messaging for real-time communication.

Impax RIS/PACS for imaging centers is tailored for the workflow, integration and implementation needs of single and multi-site centers and integrates RIS, PACS, speech, document management, billing and practice analysis. Impax RIS/PACS provides referring practices with Web access to reports and images.

Agfa announced the successful release in Europe, Australia and South America of MediWeb, a thin-client solution for radiology order communication and results distribution. With MediWeb, exams performed in the radiology department can be ordered and followed up from any desktop, and reports and images generated in the radiology department are available to any authorized user inside and outside of the hospital via a web browser.

The company also introduced the enhancement of its Impax ES for Orthopaedics toolset with an Orthopaedics Spine module, which is a works in progress. The new module provides tools to digitally plan spinal surgeries and digitally calculate scoliosis, vertebral rotation and estimate skeletal maturity, compared to normal values. The workstation includes planning tools for hip and knee replacement, biometry, osteotomy, coxometry and trauma.

Agfa also announced its planned acquisition of GWI, a European HIS and EPR vendor. The deal is expected to close in early 2005. (For details, see story at:

AMICAS, the radiology division of VitalWorks Inc., showcased its Vision Series family of products at RSNA. The company demonstrated its full, end-to-end product suite, including Vision Series RIS, Vision Series PACS, Vision Series Financials and Vision Series Document Management. AMICAS Vision Series 4.1 with AMICAS RealTime worklist connects all enterprise users and integrates RIS, cardiology, PACS, orthopedic templates, document imaging, 3D and dictation.

The company showcased integration of Vision Series PACS with the Heartlab Encompass Cardiology PACS via the AMICAS RealTime Worklist to provide on-demand access to cardiology and radiology images across the enterprise without user query. Other new features for the Lightbeam Diagnostics Workstation and RealTime Worklist include study display without accession numbers to enable personalized worklists for radiologists and their customers, integrated 3D cropping with targeted review and AMICAS ThinView, a dynamic means of accessing images and reports starting from minimal information and expanding to full viewing.

Also new from AMICAS is its Insight Services client-centered professional and consulting services to execute the transition to digital.

The company shared plans to release a new acute-care software package with cardiology, orthopedic and 3D tools prior to the Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS)