‘Slow year’ for innovation at RSNA yields PACS, dose reduction advances

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Judging from the vendor offerings at the Radiological Society of North America’s (RSNA) recent annual meeting, 2012 was another slow year for technology innovation, according to a Dec. 6 webinar from global growth consulting company Frost & Sullivan.

“The vendors are overwhelmingly worried about the 2.3 percent Medical Device Excise Tax that’s going to go into effect in 2013 and wondering what this is going to mean for innovation,” said Nadim Michel Daher, principal analyst, medical imaging, for the Mountain View, Calif.-based market research firm.

While no major technology breakthroughs presented as a game changer for a core modality, Daher said there was advancement among the current crop of high-end products, notably in CT. Scanner performance and patient comfort were major focuses, and the one-upmanship of the “Slice Wars” from years past has come to an end.

Dose reduction was another area that demonstrated advancement at RSNA. Daher noted that many vendors were showcasing dose tracking applications that could be tied to their PACS or imaging equipment. “It looks like dose tracking and monitoring is picking up in the U.S. quite rapidly and not only in the states where it’s mandated, like in California, but even in other states as well.”

PACS vendors in general “have their game together,” added Daher. Third-generation PACS, with a focus on enterprise imaging, distributed workflow and intelligent systems, have become an industry and market reality. PACS vendors stressed business intelligence and analytics tools, as opposed to productivity tools, at this year’s conference.

A number of signs pointed to greater industry maturity around informatics, mobility and enterprise communication, according to Daher. Meaningful Use was less of a buzzword, and cloud computing is well established. iPhones and tablets, now a more familiar sight, also weren’t used as much as show floor gadgets.

Daher said significant communication opportunities remain, specifically in leveraging IT for two-way communication with radiology and ironing out the optimal role of direct patient communication.

For more about the future of PACS, please read "PACS: Dead, Dying or Re-born?" in Health Imaging.