Industry Trends Shape our SIIM Presentation

One of the sessions at Aunt Minnie’s “PACS in a World of Change” virtual conference was Top Trends in Imaging Informatics: A Preview of Pressing Issues and Emerging Trends at SIIM 2011.  Not surprisingly, the increasing use of mobile devices in radiology made the list.  However, what was perhaps missing from the presentation was a discussion on the integration of radiology IT with the EMR.  While this is not as novel as the emergence of mobile devices like the iPad, the combination of both trends has profoundly impacted the radiology IT market.   

Meaningful Use initiatives have renewed the industry’s focus on patient data.  As a result, RIS and PACS need to deliver even more value to a wider group of users.  On top of that, the recent FDA approval of Mobile MIM’s radiology application means that the PACS needs to adapt to use on non-traditional devices such as the iPad.  The result is the emergence of “zero-footprint” products on the market that have changed the way we think about medical imaging IT.  PACS can no longer operate independently from neighboring IT systems, and we have been challenged to break out of the typical workstation environment for viewing imaging data.     

As a result, we have a new vocabulary to talk about PACS in light of these industry changes:  light, mobile and easily embedded.  Zero-footprint viewers are among the newest technology that we’ll be seeing at SIIM.  These systems are web-based; can run on any platform or device; are easily embedded into the EMR; and they are different from anything radiology professionals have used before. 

This groundbreaking technology has emerged from major changes in the world of imaging IT, where the workflow is no longer tied to a workstation.  You can expect to see a lot of new things at SIIM this year – and we can’t wait to show you. 

Elad Benjamin, General Manager of Carestream’s Healthcare Information Solutions business, talked with Everything Rad about these trends in a recent podcast.  Click here to listen to what he had to say.

New study reveals key decision makers for clinical data sharing and archiving

Last summer we conducted a survey asking the question, “Who is responsible for clinical data storage in hospitals today?”  We asked for your participation in this study, and the results are in! 

 We asked healthcare professionals—radiology administrators, PACS administrators, IT professionals, and purchasing professionals—to tell us how they make their decisions regarding the selection of a clinical data archive.  There were two key groups of respondents— those who already installed a clinical data archive or already selected a vendor, and those who have not yet made the decision. 

 The new report, which summarizes the insights gained from this study, provides some surprising findings.  We found that while the radiology director or administrator controls the budget in most clinical data archive selections, the decision is an enterprise effort with the IT director typically being a key decision maker.  Because priorities may be different for each of these key stakeholders, we suggest that facilities use a cross-functional team with representatives from each group.  The diverse group can address the concerns of all stakeholders and will ultimately select the best clinical data archive for the organization’s needs.

 Thank you to all of our readers who participated!  The full report is available here

What’s Planted in your Garden?

Guest Post:  Karena Galvin, Director, RSNA R&E Foundation

 It’s Spring, and time to start planting seeds in the garden. At home that means flowers, vegetables and herbs. At work it can only mean one thing – R&D. 

 R&D is critical for any healthcare organization, and ours is no different. In fact, it is why we exist. Our singular goal is to invest in grants to advance research, education, and patient care. 

 Research is highly uncertain. Results are often complex making it difficult to measure success of R&D programs and justify the investment.  We support seed grants for seminal research that gets projects into the lab and protects researchers’ time to explore innovative new ideas.

 But we don’t do it alone. Thousands of individuals, companies and private practices help tend to our garden.  Because of their support, this year we’re planting $2.7 million of R&D seed grants in our garden on topics ranging from PET imaging to novel contrast agents to comparative effectiveness. 

 We know that for every $1 we award to investigators, their research careers grow to receive over $30 in subsequent funding from NIH, private foundations, and companies.  This $30:1 return on investment shows the fruits of our garden – developments in MR elastography, handheld devices for bedside diagnosis, targeted treatment of cancer stem cells, techniques for dose reduction, characterization of brain tumors and more. 

 One of the best parts of my job is when past grant recipients call, or email, or stop by to share the good news with us that their NIH grant was funded, their work is being published, or just to say thank you. We’re creating a workforce of strong researchers for the future. 

 What kind of R&D are you planting this spring?

Take a Smarter Approach to Replacement PACS

Guest Post:  Mary C. Tierney, Editorial Director, Health Imaging & IT

A recent CapSite study[1] revealed that some 20 percent of U.S. healthcare organizations will be replacing their PACS either this year or next. As with any IT system replacement there are many factors to be considered, ranging from physician and department workflow to revenue cycles – making the process a daunting task for even well-prepared teams.

 Some facilities searching for a replacement PACS seek a tightly integrated RIS/PACS, while others prefer a feature-rich PACS. Either way, I can identify a short-list of suggestions for facilities looking for the right replacement PACS: 

  • Seamless integration with voice, 3D, prior studies and EMR data is essential.
  • The new PACS should be user-friendly and have intuitive functionality for physicians.  Remember that workflow adjustments can be a significant obstacle to new system installation
  • Mobile device functionality is a must, for radiology as well as referrers. It’s no longer just cool; it’s required.
  • Leading-edge PACS need auditing to track and ensure patient data is secure.
  • Challenge your vendor to utilize pieces of your current PACS whose life can be extended – perhaps an archive, or even hardware.  This can save you money in the replacement.

For the team at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, bringing on digital mammography a couple years ago was the tipping point for buying a new PACS.  Likewise, Winthrop University Hospital, an academic medical center in Long Island, New York, was using a first generation PACS which no longer allowed the facility to integrate as they grew.  Both facilities recently went through the drill to find the right, new integrated RIS/PACS for their needs, and learned the “rules of engagement” through experience.

The teams from Winthrop University Hospital and St. John Medical Center will share their experience with replacement PACS in a video webcast beginning on May 19 at 1:00pm EST.  Register for the event today!

Mobile DR Saves Time During Surgery

John Olson, MD, Chief of Neurosurgery, Heartland Regional Medical Center, talked with us about his experience using the CARESTREAM DRX-Mobile Retrofit Kit in the operating room.  He found that the rapid access to images can save as much as 20 minutes during each surgery – which can be the difference that surgeons need to be home in time for dinner!

What benefits have you experienced by using DR during surgery?

What Do Apps Have That Workstations Don’t?

Guest Post:  Cristen Bolan, Executive Editor, AppliedRadiology

It’s hard to believe that radiologists can actually detect with some degree of certainty arterially enhancing lesions, the patency of vessels, or even evaluate abnormalities on an iPhone! But can they really?


For the everyday people, like me, smart phones are incredibly useful. I love my iPhone not just because I can view the Internet as it actually looks on my laptop – once my fingers do the zooming – but I can shoot videos to capture a great moment, Shazam any song I want to download, and comparison shop with my bar code app.

What can’t an app do? OK, it can’t drive a car, yet, but the iPhone officially can be used by radiologists to do diagnostic reads on medical imaging exams. In case you haven’t heard, the FDA gave the green light to a certain diagnostic imaging software product indicated for use on an iPhone and iPad. And now a wave of PACS apps are flooding the market.

So what can an app do that a PACS workstation can’t? For radiologists’ working with referring physicians, they can send reports with the images to the doctors’ smartphone or tablet, which the doctor can then use to show patients what’s going on inside. This is your carotid artery…this is your carotid artery in 3D…any questions?

The cool factor is pretty compelling indeed, noted one beta-tester of CARESTREAM PACS, Randall Stenoien, MD, President, Innovative Radiology, PA, and CEO of Houston Medical Imaging, LLC. Dr. Stenoien agrees that referring doctors are the principal adopters of mobile imaging apps: “The mobile app is a Web-based interface using PACS, which is going to be browser agnostic – whether you’re using Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer. That, for me, is going to make a huge difference in my practice for referring docs. Using an iPad, the referring doctor can log in to see their patients’ images without having to push the images at all,” he said in an article entitled “Apps mobilize radiology,” which appears in the May issue of AppliedRadiology (AR).

There is a lot of potential for radiologists too. One caveat, though — the FDA has cleared that one PACS app for radiologists to use for diagnostic reads when and only when a diagnostic PACS workstation is not available. The irony is the iPhone and iPad (in some radiologists’ opinions) are equal if not better than some of the diagnostic workstations in use today. Really…really?  Yeah, really.

So what can a PACS workstation do that an app can’t – turns out not much. Bold statement, I know, but at least on some PACS apps for iPhones, Androids, and iPads you can actually download 1,000 slices a second without downsizing images. One well-regarded radiologist and beta-tester points out in the AR article:  “The images are 512 x 512 with full resolution — which means it is faster than most workstations. Most of the workstations downsize images, but with the iPad or an iPhone, the application does not comprise resolution.”

 Another factoid about the latest iteration — Apple boosted the iPhone 4’s resolution of its 960×640-pixel resolution (326 ppi) with Apple Retina, designed to sharpen images, videos, and text — not sure how much I need to sharpen my text — texting skills yes, text, not so much. Google’s Android operating system runs on a wide range of smart phones and tablets, giving you a lot of screen sizes to choose from.

So, move over text-aholics, here’s something faster and even more dangerous on the road – diagnostic-quality PACS apps. Expect to see new road signs directed at radiologists – “Don’t diagnose and drive!”

Radiology Image Challenge – What is it?

At the beginning of April we posted our first in a new monthly series of Image Challenges.  We got some great guesses, but no one correctly identified the subject of the x-ray!  So the question remains – What is it?  April’s radiology image was chewing gum in a blister package.

Even though no one guessed correctly last month, there are still plenty of images left!  Here’s the image for May’s challenge.

Again you’ll have all month to identify the subject in our educational x-ray quiz.  Leave your guess in the comments section for this post, and the first person to correctly identify the subject of the x-ray will win an Everything Rad mug.

We’re looking forward to another month of great guesses!

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