Siemens highlights workflow, integration in oncology imaging

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Siemens Medical Solutions emphasized the unification of both modalities and health IT systems within radiation oncology to bolster workflow and quality of care at the 48th Annual American Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) meeting in Philadelphia this week. “Disparate pieces of the therapeutic puzzle create adequate but by no means optimal care,” said Holger Schmidt, president, Siemens Medical Solutions Oncology Care division. “By transforming the therapeutic approach, we can connect those pieces and complete the picture of truly personalized cancer care.” Schmidt emphasized in a briefing the company’s oncology suite and work-in-progress RT (radiation therapy) workflow tools, as well as its focus on data management systems and the ability to integrate third-party technology, as good examples of the oncology division’s efforts to make this a reality for customers.

Siemens also presented John Buatti, MD, professor and head of radiation oncology, the University of Iowa. Buatti has been very active in the use of integrated Siemens systems, and said his experience leads him to believe such a unified approach is “the best advance in terms of workflow in an oncology office.” His department has seen the integration of the imaging modalities with the treatment system, placing the acquired information on a single platform. The department also has seen the walls fall between different departments that use similar technologies, such as nuclear medicine and radiology, and the cross training of technologists within those departments. This makes possible “a revolution in imaging but also in how you use your staff,” he said.

At its exhibit, Siemens guided attendees through a sort of ideal (though much larger and modern – and with a coffee shop in the middle) oncology department unified digitally through the company’s latest modalities and workstations carrying the newest software. The company emphasized its goal to present an integrated platform (now dubbed syngo Suite for Oncology though previously known as The COHERENCE) which includes a central archive, worklist, image review, acquisition, and treatment plan. The syngo Suite for Oncology, with additional functionality, will be available under that name once it is FDA cleared, Siemens said.

Another core piece to this push towards integration is a new work-in-progress workstation called syngo RT Oncologist which features a tab-based screen that will allow oncologists to customize their work process, track changes and basically run their operation in as simple a way as possible. Look for this product to be released in mid-summer 2007.

Siemens also showcased its efforts towards early detection and diagnosis through treatment and follow-up. The company particularly highlighted its work with ART (advanced radiation therapy). Siemens’ portfolio of ART solutions includes the PRIMATOM system, an IGRT (image-guided radiation therapy) system which combines a linear accelerator with the Siemens SOMATOM CT scanner with sliding gantry to provide the ability to visualize treatment structures prior to treatment in order to assure correct patient positioning.

Siemens also showcased MVision, a megavoltage cone beam (MVCB) IGRT system utilizing a standard radiotherapy treatment beam. MVision makes it possible for the megavoltage source used for treatment to create a 3D image of the patient also.