Nadim Daher, Frost & Sullivan
Today 3D/4D post-processing is, by all measures, a very common step in the radiology reading workflow, one that is performed on more than 30% of imaging studies across modalities. Given these high figures, it is striking how slowly advanced visualization is making its way into the PACS workflow.
The Standards bodies, including NEMA’s DICOM Workgroup 23 and the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG) eXtensible Imaging Platform (XIP), are making a concerted effort to push forward an integrated medical imaging software platform. This ideal standard would allow advanced visualization applications to be seamlessly plugged into the software architecture, making it possible for a radiologist to freely move between applications for each study. But, with the exception of a few vendors, we’re simply not there yet.
For the IT vendors, offering the advanced visualization application through PACS means speeding up the migration of more of their thick-client scanner workstation software onto their PACS platform. However, as they start to overcome the technological barriers associated with this migration, it is the internal political challenges that start to kick in between the ‘PACS group’, the ‘Scanner group’ and the ‘Workstation group.’ For whichever reason that is, the fact of the matter is these vendors have mostly been busy re-writing the clinical applications from scratch.
As for most other PACS vendors who are still playing catch-up with advanced visualization, bringing the application onto their PACS is being done in one of several ways. One such method is to incorporate the SDKs and algorithms offered by a number of small advanced visualization vendors on the basis of an OEM software license. They are essentially purchasing the technology from third-party vendors, incorporating it to the PACS, and re-branding it as their own.
PACS vendors are also trying to work out tighter integration deals with the well-established independent advanced visualization vendors, which can add tremendous value through the clinical depth they have developed over the years. But incidentally, such vendors would never agree to disclose all of their source code and have their brand name be absent from the end-product… until they get that “offer they can’t refuse,” that is!
And then there are a select few PACS vendors who have done it right from the start, making 3D an intrinsic component of the PACS – by design and from the ground up. Considering the native 3D capabilities its PACS system has had for more than three years, and the breadth and depth of the specialty clinical applications it has built upon it since then, the CARESTREAM PACS is clearly leading this pack.
What has been your experience with the integration of advanced visualization and PACS systems?
Post contributed by Nadim Michel Daher – Senior Industry Analyst – Medical Imaging and Imaging Informatics – Frost & Sullivan / author of the most recent study publication on the “2010 North American Advanced (3D/4D) Visualization and Clinical Applications for Medical Imaging Markets”