Ideas in Hospital-Based Imaging

Barco Inks Deal with Mid-South Hospital Network
Putting Automated Ultrasound to Work
Connecting Radiology with the ED

Baptist Memorial Health Care’s 15 affiliate hospitals will install Coronis and Nio display systems from Barco.

Barco Inks Deal with Mid-South Hospital Network

Medical display and advanced visualization solutions provider Barco recently announced it has signed an agreement with Baptist Memorial Health Care to provide diagnostic display systems to all of its 15 affiliate hospitals in the mid-South region of the United States.

According to Barco, the display solutions will be purchased through third-party distribution and OEM partners.

Baptist Memorial officials anticipate an improvement in efficiencies as a result of the new contract. “We are very excited about this partnership,” said David C. Hogan, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Baptist Memorial. “The training and support team will be a great help to our colleagues, giving them guidance so they can continue to provide high-quality, leading-edge care to our patients.”

Baptist Memorial operates a network of more than 3,100 affiliated physicians through west Tennessee, north Mississippi, and east Arkansas.

Barco, which will provide the facilities with its Coronis and Nio display systems, will offer direct access to its technical support team and create a dedicated, in-house Baptist Memorial training and support team.

On the other hand, Baptist Memorial will become a national reference/luminary site and utilize Barco as its preferred supplier of display technology products throughout its hospitals.

“Barco is very pleased to announce this new agreement,” said Mike Sklar, director of Barco’s Medical Imaging Division for North America. “We are honored to be the worldwide partner for medical imaging systems for Baptist Memorial Health Care.”

The agreement, effective immediately, will continue through 2012. In addition to the Coronis and Nio displays, Barco will offer its soft-copy QA solution, the MediCal QA Web.

The MediCal QAWeb, according to Barco, was the industry’s first online service for high-grade quality assurance of PACS displays. An all-inclusive system, the solution comes equipped with central management tools that facilitate comprehensive overview of all workstations connected to the system.

The product guarantees maximum diagnostic confidence and uptime of PACS display systems by providing automated DICOM calibration, display asset management, problem solving, and reporting.

—Elaine Sanchez

Dr Phil Evans, MD, of UT Southwestern Medical Center uses a fully automated 3D breast ultrasound machine from U-Systems, based in San Jose, Calif.

Putting Automated Ultrasound to Work

Studies have suggested that for women with dense breast parenchyma, ultrasound screening may contribute to the early detection of breast cancer when used in conjunction with mammography.

Seeing its benefits and experiencing a growing demand for breast cancer screening using ultrasound, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, purchased a fully automated 3D breast ultrasound machine from U-Systems. It was recently installed at the Southwestern Center for Breast Care.

Phil Evans, MD, professor of radiology and the cancer center’s director, said the main advantage of the technology is its ability to capture all multiple images of breast tissue that can be reviewed on a 3D workstation. Approximately, 400 to 500 images per breast are acquired in 10 to 15 minutes, he said. Physicians can view these images from any angle simultaneously.

“Automated screening breast ultrasound can be a ‘batch read’ similar to screening mammography,” Evans said. “If a possible abnormality is detected, the patient can be recalled for a focused exam with handheld ultrasound to determine if a true suspicious lesion exists.”

Evans said there is substantial evidence to support the recommendation that women with a lifetime cancer risk of less than 15% be screened with mammography alone, and those with greater than 20% be screened with mammography and MRI.

“Women in the 15% to 20% lifetime breast cancer risk group may need additional screening tests besides mammography,” he said. “Ultrasound performed in conjunction with mammography has been reported to find additional early cancers than mammography alone. If appropriate, ultrasound or MRI screening should be done as an adjunct to mammography, not as a stand-alone screening test.”

The procedure involves an initial scan that determines the breast density and subsequently sets the parameters. The actual image acquisition scan follows, lasting 60 seconds and not requiring compression. Because the technique is fully automated, variability in human administration does not play a factor in results.

“With this automated ultrasound system, the parameters are preset, and each breast is examined in a systemic manner,” Evans said.

Digital data is sent to an independent computer workstation for review. The radiologist has the option to perform a virtual rescan to determine the need for follow-up testing. The exam is less expensive than a mammogram or MRI and is covered by some insurance plans, Evans said.

—E. Sanchez

Connecting Radiology with the ED

Quick connections. That’s what Agfa HealthCare’s new IMPAX ConnectED is all about. The software solution is designed to automate and expedite communication between a hospital’s radiology and emergency departments. ConnectED features multiple ways to notify ED physicians of critical results and offers department-level visibility of messaging activity, with the communication trail archived for more than a decade.

“We’ve focused our efforts on making communication between radiologists and their colleagues as efficient as possible,” said Dave Talton, marketing manager for Agfa. “We took a look at radiologist communication with the ED and decided to design a comprehensive solution.”

That means expediting confirmation of preliminary results by the radiology department or sending results from the radiology department to the ED as rapidly as possible. “What we’ve tried to do in either of those scenarios is expedite the turnaround of results back to the ED so they can make the proper treatment,” said Talton. “When the radiologist sees the images first, they can use critical test results workflow within IMPAX to create a critical test result and get it back down to the ED. When the physician in the ED sees the images first, they can create a preliminary that will make it quickly to radiology and require that radiology either agree with it or create a critical test result. We’ve covered the workflow wherever the reading is initiated.”

ConnectED’s tight integration with Agfa’s IMPAX PACS is a key feature. Radiologists and ED physicians have the ability to create customized worklists within the IMPAX system to streamline review of emergent exams. “Things move so quickly in the ED that they look at images and then want to move onto their next activity,” said Talton. “That’s why it’s essential that the system be integrated with PACS.”

Agfa codeveloped the product with Nuance Communications Inc, Burlington, Mass, which recently acquired Vocada Inc, Dallas, developer of the Veriphy critical test results management product. Integration with Veriphy is another important aspect of the ConnectED platform.

“Some other PACS products have the ability to record voice clips, but the fundamental issue with that approach is that there’s no escalation,” Talton noted. “It’s great to record a voice clip, but what if it just sits there? This product uses the critical test result escalation mechanism that’s inherent in the Veriphy product line.”

Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda, Calif, was a collaborative development site for ConnectED, and will be the first purchaser of the system. Talton says Loma Linda’s input was valuable in developing the final product. “One suggestion they had for us was that they would like to stay within the IMPAX system for all worklists,” he recalled. “So we tagged the exams within IMPAX with information about critical test results. A benefit of this approach is that radiologists can create worklists of emergency department preliminaries tailored to their subspecialty.”

Finally, ease of use is paramount. “We’ve tried to streamline the product to minimize the number of user interactions,” Talton said. “When an emergency doctor creates a prelim, they don’t have time to go through a lot of steps. Likewise in radiology, when they listen to a prelim and want to respond, they want to agree or disagree with a single button. We looked to streamline the application, not burden it with a bunch of bells and whistles.”

IMPAX ConnectED is available now as a stand-alone package for IMPAX or as an enhancement to IMPAX Veriphy.

—C. Vasko