Preparing RIS/PACS RFPs & Tenders To Save Time, Hassles – And Lead to Better Results

Richard Turner, Carestream

Richard Turner, Services Manager and Program Director, Carestream Healthcare Information Solutions, Emerging Markets

Some basic “secrets to success” can alleviate the burden of having to spend considerable time answering questions and clarifying points for suppliers responding to a RIS and PACS Request for Proposal (RFP) or tender. Equally important, these “secrets” can enhance the quality of proposals submitted and can ultimately lead to a more successful RIS/PACS implementation.

That was the underlying theme of my presentation, “Writing of Request for Proposal and Tenders, Lessons and Experienced Learned from a Purchaser and Vendor Perspective,” at the recent Arab Health 2012 Congress in Dubai, UAE.

Here are some key takeaways you can apply to your next RFP:

  • Lead with goals and desired outcomes. An RFP or tender should articulate the change and benefits sought through a new RIS/PACS investment. This involves clearly stating your objectives and business case, pointing out how benefits will be realized and what will define a successful outcome
  • Create a Hospital PACS RFP Team. Often, one or two people in the Radiology department are tasked with writing a RIS/PACS RFP or tender. The resulting document, consequently, might not be optimal. An RFP team can help ensure that the needs of all relevant departments are taken into account and included in an RFP. Those departments include not only Radiology and IT, but any departments that use or touch medical images, as well as those responsible for hospital operations and capital expenditure.
  • Define your current workflow, delineating inefficiencies. And define the workflow you seek (with RIS/PACS) to maximize efficiencies, mandating that suppliers’ RFP responses demonstrate how their products/solutions will help attain this workflow. Consider the complete hospital workflow, not just Radiology. Typically, IT or other departments “own” the Hospital Information System (HIS) workflow. You need to ensure that the proposed Radiology workflow can synchronize with the HIS workflow. You’ll also need to define what you want from the integration between the HIS and RIS, the vendor should do the rest.
  • Ensure training and service are not afterthoughts. Build both into your RFP from the onset. Training: Suppliers tend to take a “cookie-cutter” approach to training. Many will offer one-on-one sessions with radiologists, for example, and “Train the Trainer” or similar methods with referring physicians and other users. Assess your own requirements and state them clearly in your RFP. The most effective training approaches are those that are specifically tailored to your organization’s needs. Service: With RIS/PACS, it’s important to tie service to uptime and to updates/upgrades. It’s also important to understand the commercial implications of different levels of service a supplier may offer. Lastly, be sure to ascertain what happens when the warranty expires. Is it extendible, etc.?

You can view my full presentation below:

Writing Requests for Proposals and Tenders

Working together purchasers and vendors can improve the tender process.

What advice would you share from your facility’s RFP experience?  

A New Approach to Multi-Site X-Ray Exam Reading – Part Three

In the latest installment of our RadCare workflow series, David Walker, RadCare COO, gives us a closer look at the architecture of CARESTREAM Vue Connect, powered by SuperPACS™ technology, and its impact on IT support:

Variability between hospitals is no longer a problem and a boost in efficiency means RadCare can increase capacity and move more imaging studies than ever before without added IT complexity:

  • An intelligent workflow engine that tracks the patient name, identification number, and imaging services provider for each exam from disparate systems. This prevents mishandling of patient information in a multi-site workflow when patients have the same name or accession numbers. It also enables radiology reports to be automatically communicated back to the correct site.
  • Specialized streaming technology speeds image transmission and allows radiologists to begin reading the study as the first images arrive, instead of waiting for the entire exam to be received. Vue Connect validates that the entire study has been received and speeds the delivery of large data sets over cable modems and other connections used by remote radiologists.
  • Patient exams can be automatically routed for reading by subspecialty radiologists.

Walker believes the integration with client systems is improving customer satisfaction as a result of greater consistency paired with faster turnaround times for hospitals and patients:


What data integration, quality and integrity challenges does your multi-site environment face?

In our final post of our RadCare series next week, Phil Heckendorn, RadCare CEO, will share his perspective on the ROI of Vue Connect and the platform’s impact on the company’s competitiveness.

Mammography Scheduling Portal Helps Improve Screening Attendance in Denmark

With 200,000 women aged 50-69 years,  a free mammogram every second year and 750 patient appointments each day, the mammography screening program in Denmark’s Capital Region is the largest in the country. It also boasts a 75 percent screening attendance rate.

Key to balancing the demands of scheduling, hospital resources and patient satisfaction? Empowering women to book mammography appointments online at a convenient time and location with the CARESTREAM Vue RIS Portal.

How It Works

  1. Women are sent a letter, questionnaire and leaflet explaining how to access the RIS Portal with a unique, password-protected, secure ID number.
  2. Once in the Portal, the patient navigates through a simple process to modify appointment time, day or location as many times as they like for up to three months. At the same time, the Portal seamlessly communicates with the hospital RIS to book.
  3. A summary screen displays date, time and address details to print for future reference.
  4. Patients can also cancel their appointment for the current screening round or altogether, giving them complete freedom of choice.
  5. The portal allows patients to include comments. Consequently, the hospital can track why some women are choosing not to attend their screening appointments.

This patient-centric solution makes it easier for women to coordinate  busy lives with hospital appointments because they no longer are required to phone the hospital between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. For Denmark’s health system it means secretarial staff can find a more efficient use for the time they spent writing to non attenders, re-booking and dealing with cancellations.  For radiologists and technologists, it means  one system harmonizes  clinical tools and reports with a scheduling system that encourages quality care in a timely fashion.

Chief Physician Ilse Vejborg, Head of the Mammography Screening Programme, sat down with us at Righospitalet, the main hospital for the capital region of Denmark, to discuss how Vue RIS has become the most used web site in the region and plans for continued improvements.

Come see the CARESTREAM Vue RIS at ECR2012 in Vienna, March 1-5.

Cloud Security in the Medical Imaging Environment

A Diagnostic Imaging poll making the rounds on Twitter today took a quick pulse on cloud security and imaging sharing:

Using the cloud requires turning over responsibility for data security and privacy to a third party—and that can be a concern for healthcare providers. In reality, a cloud-based service can provide higher levels of security than most healthcare facilities because the supplier has a specialized team devoted to implementing the latest security technologies and provides 24/7/365 monitoring of data access and operations.

Cloud services protect the privacy of data through infrastructure design, access control, audit tracking, and a security team that oversees all operations and ensures the physical security of each data center.

  • Infrastructure Design: The communication between customer sites and data center is done within a virtual private network providing encryption of the communication at the network level. SSL-based encryption is used at the application level to transfer medical data while ensuring end-to-end confidentiality, regardless of the underlying network implementation between the Service Access Point and the data center. This encryption ensures that no one can access data while it is being carried over the network or the Internet, between the DMZ and the end user viewing software. Data is encrypted and also secured against the physical removal of devices, and databases are also encrypted to ensure data privacy.
  • Access Control: Authentication and access control restrict use. Site-level access control is confined to specific CSAPs. Access rights are limited to authorized users (with passwords and other requirements) and user access can be confined to specific patients and types of studies.
  • Audit tracking: An audit trail monitors all activity on each user’s server and each component of the data center. Metrics are collected from each device and an alert is triggered when a faulty condition or potential breech is detected.
  • Security team: Each cloud provider should have a security policy that governs all security procedures and is headed by a qualified security officer. The security team monitors all data access and ensures the physical security of the data centers. Badge controls are used to restrict access to specific areas of the data center. Security guards provide around-the-clock protection and a strict policy is enforced for document and laptop management.
Cloud-based computing in the radiology market has evolved from a service that provided cost-effective disaster recovery for archived data to a sophisticated technology that can deliver fully featured PACS and vendor-neutral archiving solutions to healthcare providers of all sizes. Its widespread appeal lies in its ability to deliver highly scalable, pay-for-use solutions that include technology upgrades and expert security measures—all available for substantially less than the cost of purchasing and maintaining an on-site infrastructure and management personnel.
Cristine Kao

Cristine Kao, Global Marketing Manager, Healthcare IT, Carestream

Healthcare facilities should ask for detailed documentation on security from every cloud services supplier they evaluate – what should you ask? Our cloud-based data security white paper offers guidance on how to evaluate the data security capabilities of cloud-based services for your healthcare facility.

Let’s keep the conversation going. What security concerns are keeping you from a move to the cloud?

A New Approach to Multi-Site X-Ray Exam Reading – Part Two

Last week we kicked off our series about RadCare’s implementation of a streamlined multi-site radiology workflow that connects disparate RIS and PACS.

Today we’ll look at the impact the common reading and reporting platform is having on radiologist productivity and satisfaction.

With more than 100 radiologists on staff J. Leslie Derdeyn, MD, RadCare’s National Medical Director knew an easier way to work was crucial to keep their better than 95 percent physician retention rate:

Carestream’s Vue Connect, powered by SuperPACS™ technology, allows the radiologist to focus more on patient care and less on workflow issues with one log-on, one workstation, one way of doing things.

Keeping up with different hospitals and making sure everyone’s demands are being met is also easier with one single unified programmable worklist:


With this workflow, streaming technology speeds image transfer and allows radiologists to begin reading the study as the first images arrive (seconds), instead of waiting for the entire exam to be received. In addition, prior exams are also automatically delivered to radiologists eliminating the cumbersome process involved on manually forwarding prior imaging. After hours teleradiologists can now deliver a final read because they have access to all the patient information.

Integrated voice recognition is also keeping radiologists happy. They don’t have to dial into each individual hospital to dictate reports. Within Vue Connect the radiologist can dictate reports, sign them and then the reports are inserted in the patient’s medical record:



Equipping teleradiologists to function like onsite radiologists has been a big satisfaction and retention win for RadCare:



Next week we’ll hear from David Walker, COO, RadCare about the operational IT benefits of Vue Connect.

Looking Forward to ECR 2012

Robert Ashby Carestream

Robert Ashby, European Communications Manager, Carestream Health

February 10th 2012 is the anniversary of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen’s passing and will be marked by the second European Day of Radiology.  It’s an event, which for me acts as the perfect springboard into ECR 2012 in March.  A time to remember where the focus of our industry originated, and to pledge to remain true to the sentiments of its founding fathers.

ECR is known very much as a trendsetter – a dynamic service-orientated congress.  It’s a key event in our trade show calendar, well respected and renowned as innovative within the scientific community, something that has led to its year on year growth and improvement.

Carestream has participated in ECR for as long as I can recall and I personally became involved from 1997. In the beginning ECR was a bi-annual event, becoming annual in the late ‘90s, and in all of these years the pilgrimage has been to the beautiful city of Vienna. I’ve been to Vienna many times, and although my time for sightseeing is often limited, I always try to take in the atmosphere of the city, even if it is only during an evening stroll after a meal in one of the many excellent restaurants! But I have still yet to visit the opera!

ECR 2012 is a great opportunity to renew relationships with existing customers and take the opportunity of meeting new customers and demonstrating the portfolio of Carestream solutions:

  • Included on our booth will be the DRX-Revolution Mobile X-ray System, which was so well received at RSNA.  I’m particularly interested to discover who’s going to re-enact the fabulous arabesque!
  • You will also be able to see the second-generation CARESTREAM DRX Detector, which is available worldwide.
  • In healthcare IT we’re excited to be presenting our plans for a cloud-based service, part of the CARESTREAM Vue Cloud Services, that will empower patients to view their own medical imaging data and share it with their physicians using secure cloud computing data storage and transmission technologies.
  • We are also featuring a versatile digital printer that outputs black-and-white and colour X-ray images onto film for diagnosis or paper for use by referring physicians–the DRYVIEW Chroma Imager–and the  CS 9300 System,  a high-quality cone beam CT (CBCT) and true panoramic imaging system for ENT and dental indications.

Our products are designed to marry up best-in-class technology and the optimisation of human contact. Carestream understands that contemporary healthcare is about delivering both in equal measure. ECR 2012 gives Carestream the opportunity to demonstrate its breadth of knowledge to everyone attending – I’m looking forward to all of the presentations.  See you in Expo B!

Have you started your ECR countdown? 

A New Approach to Multi-Site X-Ray Exam Reading – Part One

For RadCare being one of the most respected and fastest growing radiology management companies in the U.S. means keeping 85 radiologists, 30 teleradiologists and 22 hospitals satisfied 24/7. That is no small feat when reading 2 million imaging exams each year for healthcare providers with disparate RIS and PACS.

RadCare’s secret? Standardizing on ONE reading and reporting platform that offers a common user interface and set of applications to both onsite and remote radiologists from anywhere.

The firm recently put in place Carestream Vue Connect, powered by SuperPACS™ technology that interfaces with multiple PACS to produce a single patient worklist, automates pulling of prior exams and embeds voice recognition—a combination that simplifies workflow:

  •  Teleradiologists who previously had three or four workstations now use one
  • Streaming technology displays  the first image in seconds
  • Stat reports are delivered in as little as 20 minutes
  • Standard reports are completed in about half an hour
  • Physician downtime is reduced by 75 percent

RadCare’s leadership team recently invited us to their headquarters to discuss their growth and technology direction. In part one of a four part weekly series, we share an inside look at what drove their investment in a new platform:

Each week during the month of January, we’ll take a deeper look at how a smarter approach to radiology workflow is benefiting the practice, radiologists and patients. Tune in next week when J. Leslie Derdeyn, MD, RadCare’s National Medical Director discusses how the system is affecting radiologist productivity.

What workflow complexity is keeping your practice or department from being more efficient?

January’s Radiology Image Challenge – What is it?

Lonn Myronuk is on a roll! He correctly identified last month’s image as a pine cone.  Lonn is a two-time, back- to-back winner, guessing the correct x-ray in both November and December.

Today is the first day of our 2012 radiology image challenge.  Here’s January’s image:

X ray object

This month’s challenge runs until February 6.  The first person to correctly identify the subject of the x-ray will be the winner.

Happy guessing!

Sorry… Carestream employees and their agencies are prohibited from entering. 


Radiology Workflow, Data Transmission and Storage in the Age of Meaningful Use

Doug Rufer, Carestream health

Doug Rufer, Director Clinical Operations and Business Strategy, Healthcare Information Solutions, Carestream Health

Meaningful Use has been a moving target in 2011 and we see signs that there will be no slowing down in 2012.  Keeping abreast of changes and sifting through misinformation to determine your organization’s strategy can be a continual challenge—but one that is winnable.

Radiology workflow, IT system data transmission and storage, and the importance of using certified technology – either modular or complete – are often overlooked elements of the overall Meaningful Use process.


Carestream’s Vue RIS received modular certification for both Eligible Hospitals (EH) and Eligible Providers (EP) in October.

Once your organization decides it will comply with Meaningful Use, your journey begins with:

  • Determining the measures you will track by eligible provider
  • Evaluating your IT solutions and updating your technology to comply with all measures
  • Discussing  with your supplier their strategy for MU compliance and any potential gaps

As you move forward, you must look at the impact on specialties and the operations of your radiology department to chart the best course for success.

Understand the Measures

The first step is understanding your workflow and how and where data will be captured for a complete picture of how compliance will affect your radiology operations.  Much of the data you are now required to track, monitor and report against for meaningful use measures is data that has not traditionally been captured by radiology departments—and some may argue that such data is outside the scope of radiology.  However, having this data may be useful.  For example, recording smoking status may not, at first glance, be relevant to radiology.  But this information may become VERY important if a radiologist is reviewing a chest x-ray and sees an obscure nodule. Understanding more about a patient’s history could impact diagnosis.

Plan for Change

The challenge for radiology is where data is captured.  For EACH visit, information such as BMI, blood pressure, etc. must be captured, recorded and possibly transmitted to other IT systems or directly to the CMS, based on the measures you track.  Since this responsibility has traditionally fallen to a patient’s physician, the requirement for radiology to capture that data can be a workflow burden for many facilities.

Answering the questions below will help you plan for the full impact and ease the workflow adjustments of meaningful use compliance:

  • Where in the workflow process will we capture each measure we will submit?
  • What impact will capturing the data at that point in the process have on our overall operations and staff?
  • Will we need to increase our exam time slots when scheduling studies?  If yes, by how much?
  • Will we need to hire additional resources to capture the necessary data?
  • How will this impact patient wait times?
  • How will we ensure staff complies with capturing this required data for reporting?
  • How will we explain to patients that we need to capture this data during each visit?
  • How are we going to handle high throughput modalities (like mammography screening)?
  • Who will be required to enter data?
  • Who will monitor and provide daily checks and balances to ensure compliance?
  • What information will we need to send to other certified IT systems?
  • Will we directly submit data from our RIS to the CMS; to an EMR; or both?
  • What is the overall cost to our organization to capture this additional information?
  • How can we minimize the financial impact?

Continue reading

Happy New Year!

JoAnn Linder

JoAnn Linder, Director Global Marketing Communications, Carestream

2012 has arrived and the world of healthcare is changing faster every day. New treatments. Growing challenges. Evolving technologies.  Yet, some things remain constant. Namely, people. Like a patient’s hopes, fears, and the need for expert care. A doctor’s commitment to providing exactly that.

As we look toward the future, Carestream is focusing our energy on solutions that can help providers do more with less, enhance efficiency and boost productivity–all while helping improve patient care.  Our resolution for radiology is to continue to work every day toward improving the quality of imaging and information exchange between radiology and the electronic medical record. As an industry, we are we are building an environment where radiologists could view patient information, such as symptoms or chronic conditionals, from the EMR for contextual decision support to influence diagnosis and improve patient outcomes. We’re excited about the year ahead.

We wish you a healthy and prosperous new year. Click the image below to celebrate with us!