Managing the Flow in Radiology

New Tool Reaches Out to Referring Physicians
Sunquest Reinvests in RIS
SIIM Launches Educational Initiatives

New Tool Reaches Out to Referring Physicians

Vision Reach allows physicians to view data and images on PDAs like an iPhone or BlackBerry.

Lisa Botbyl, of San Diego Imaging, works hard to foster and maintain relationships with referring physicians. Now, a new tool from radiology information management firm AMICAS has been developed to relieve some of the burden. Called Vision Reach 2.0, the solution aims to help imaging businesses flourish by attracting referrals and securing physician loyalty.

“Vision Reach has been incredibly powerful, yet easy to maintain,” Botbyl said. “Users find the software intuitive and simple to use—so much so that providers are logging into Vision Reach on their laptops and discussing results with patients right in the exam room.”

Possessing web-based radiology order-entry capabilities, Vision Reach 2.0 uses common e-mail and secure messaging to deliver images, reports, and information to any e-mail enabled device through a secure web-based portal. Referring physicians and their staff can order exams online directly from completed reports or from a portal. Proactive, automated notifications are provided to referring physicians when reports are ready, thereby limiting the time they spend waiting for results.

“The business of providing imaging services has never been more competitive than it is today,” said Paul Merrild, AMICAS’ vice president of marketing. “Providers of imaging services need to do everything possible to attract and retain referring physicians for their business through relationships, technology, and marketing strategies.”

The technology also includes a personalized portal of results that are relevant to the referring physician. “This limits the time they spend sifting through irrelevant information,” Merrild said. “The portal provides a centralized place for referring physicians to go for all results—both current and historical.”

Designed as a results distribution engine specifically focused on the needs of the referring physician, Vision Reach boasts a unique zero client architecture, eliminating the requirement for software installation. Therefore, IT support issues and firewall complexities are limited. Furthermore, as an HTML solution, the product is fully accessible on any Web-enabled device, such as laptops, PDAs, and BlackBerrys.

“The bottom line is that Vision Reach enables providers to offer technology and service levels that their competition cannot provide, effectively positioning them to increase mindshare with their current referring physicians and to differentiate their services with a new pool of referring physicians,” Merrild said. “Tools like Vision Reach provide referring physicians with a self-service tool that improves service levels, reduces phone calls, and creates stronger relationships.”

Vision Reach can be purchased as a stand-alone referring physician product or in combination with the AMICAS Vision Series suite of products.

—Elaine Sanchez

Sunquest Reinvests in RIS

Sunquest is talking with customers with a focus on adding new features to its RIS solution.

When Misys Healthcare sold off its Diagnostic Systems business last summer to private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, the unit reemerged in October 2007 as privately held corporation Sunquest.

With a fresh start and reinvigorated focus, Sunquest embarked on a strategic analysis of its entire product line, gauging the needs of customers in today’s marketplace. Once the evaluation was complete, the company determined that it was time to reinvest in its radiology information system (RIS) software.

“We have seen unprecedented levels of interest in our industry-leading radiology solution, and new sales have continued to come in,” said Richard Atkin, Sunquest president and CEO. “So we took this opportunity, as the new Sunquest, to establish the strategic importance of our best-of-breed radiology information solution in our diagnostic portfolio.”

According to chief technology officer Mike Snow, the process of reinvestment is just starting to ramp up. Sunquest is first looking to hire additional personnel for its development team, he said. Also, the company is looking at the overall market, seeing where different technologies and platforms are converging, in order to get a sense of how to evolve its radiology product line.

“As for continuing with new RIS product development and other investments, our first priority is to meet the needs of our existing RIS customers,” Snow said. “We’re actively talking with them to validate our road map. Then we’ll look at the best and fastest ways to implement whatever new features are most important to them.”

Among its features, Sunquest’s RIS solution integrates with the company’s LIS solution as well as the pathology solution. This way, when an organization uses Sunquest Laboratory or Sunquest CoPathPlus, workflow is streamlined and redundant processes are reduced or altogether eliminated. Users can seamlessly view and share data and reports between the LIS, RIS, and pathology systems.

Furthermore, the technology is PACS neutral, allowing it to be used with any PACS on the market, Snow said. “This allows users of Sunquest RIS to be able to choose any PACS vendor and system, based on its merits and their requirements, and feel comfortable that our RIS will work with it properly,” Snow said, pointing out that customers already working with RIS solutions typically do not have compelling reasons to switch to a product that offers both RIS and PACS. The majority of the time, “the efforts and costs to switch from one RIS to another often outweigh any potential benefits of a bundled PACS/RIS solution.”

Sunquest is looking ahead to the future. Snow said he and fellow employees are excited about becoming a private company again, and they are looking forward to experiencing its growth. As pathology increasingly moves into the digital realm, Snow sees huge potential in the field of advanced diagnostics and molecular genomics testing.

“When you start combining digital pathology and images, you begin to create a convergence between radiology, digital pathology, and molecular genomics testing,” Snow said. “This is part of our technology vision: to participate in the next generation of software and solutions that are moving toward more preventative care.”

—E. Sanchez

SIIM Launches Educational Initiatives

The EAN met for the first time in Providence during the SIIM 2007 Annual Meeting, and then in October at SIIM headquarters to finalize the EAN learning objectives. From left to right around the table, George Bowers (Chair), David Brown, Len Avecilla, MaryAnn Tateosian, Anna Marie Mason, Mark Struthers, Char Branstetter, and Ann Scherzinger.

The Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM), Leesburg, Va, recently announced the launch of new educational initiatives for imaging informatics professionals (IIPs), including those preparing for the American Board of Imaging Informatics (ABII) Certified Imaging Informatics Professional exam. SIIM has established an Education Advisory Network (EAN) with the goal of creating a core curriculum for the 10 domain areas as defined by the ABII Test Content Outline (TCO).

“This has been a very collaborative effort, with competitors coming together to develop these educational learning objectives,” said Anna Marie Mason, SIIM executive director. “We hope to build an outline from these objectives and have everyone teaching from the same general curriculum. That will ultimately be great for PACS administrators and the people who hire them, as well as for enhancing patient care.”

Part of the initiative is SIIM’s new Imaging Informatics Professionals section on its Web site (, designed to communicate the EAN learning objectives and SIIM’s resources and to include information, FAQs, and documents on SIIM educational initiatives. The establishment of the EAN was another important step toward unifying educational efforts.

“This group is composed of educators who are in the trenches teaching courses for PACS administration,” said Mason. “It’s an initiative to bring everyone together to develop a core curriculum. There’s no body of knowledge for PACS administration, so the EAN is using the ABII TCO , and we’re taking that outline and developing it more deeply.

“ABII manages the IIP certification program and awards the CIIP designation. SIIM’s role is to make available educational resources and study materials for IIPs preparing for the exam and, more importantly, to build the body of knowledge for the emerging imaging informatics profession,” said Mason.

That education will come in handy when preparing for the ABII exam, largely because there is no single resource for studying. “People tend to look for one course or one book that will give them all the information they need, and that’s unrealistic,” said Mason. “Eligibility for the exam is based on a combination of factors, including experience, and not on a specific education course. Different individuals are going to need different preparation for the ABII exam and will need to design their own individual study plan.”

In addition to the new EAN efforts, SIIM will hold its IIP Symposium on May 14 of this year, and new CIIP study groups will be available at the 2008 annual meeting in Seattle. SIIM will also update its Web site with podcasts, publications, and online web seminars designed for IIPs.

“We want to build a body of knowledge to define the IIP profession,” said Mason. “We want to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and facilitate growth in competency and professionalism of IIPs. We will develop a core curriculum so that everyone who wants to develop an educational program consistent with the EAN body of knowledge can do so.”

—Cat Vasko