Managing the Flow in Radiology

New Service Cross-Trains Techs in Biomed and IT
Mammo Solution Alleviates Drag and Drop Woes
New IPIX Staves Off Germs, Dust

New Service Cross-Trains Techs in Biomed and IT

A new service from Binovia LLC, Burbank, Calif, offers technicians the ability to cross-train in either biomedi-cal engineering or information technology. bITomed technicians ensure that medical information is properly transmitted from devices including imaging equipment to PACS systems, medical records, referring physicians, and billing—and do it with twice the efficacy of a technician trained in only one of the two fields.

"Fifteen years ago, I was working in a hospital as a biomedical engineering director," said Jesse Fisher, CEO of Binovia. "As time went on, we were seeing more and more computer-based equipment, and by the end of the nineties, there were all these garage companies creating their own PACS networks. They had one programmer to do the installations and the trouble-shooting, and they’d sell their PACS everywhere and then wind up going out of business because they couldn’t handle it.

Jesse Fisher, CEO

Companies just couldn’t handle the entire spectrum. We saw a huge gap for customers in the area of service."

By cross-training technicians in both IT and biomed, Binovia produces personnel capable of troubleshooting a problem from its point of origin. This enables PACS customers to extend the life of their product, even if the company that created it goes under. "We’ve had customers who were looking at getting a new PACS, and after Binovia came in and assessed the situation, we were able to keep that PACS network running with the knowledge we have," Fisher said.

The process begins with interviewing technicians. Fisher looks for IT techs with a strong interest in health care, and biomed techs with a strong interest in IT. ‘These technicians already had 5 to 10 years of experience in either IT or biomed, and we’re having them work side by side and pushing them into the hospital realm," said Fisher. "We do weekly conference calls where there’s special training for both groups."

Fisher says cross-trained technicians will become increasingly vital as technology continues to tighten its hold on modern health care. "As hospitals move closer and closer to wide-area networking, you’ve got to have someone who isn’t just going to sit with his hands in his pockets," said Fisher.

"If our technicians see a brick wall, they’ll either go through it or over it. If they can’t fix It, they’re pointing at the problem so we can find someone who can." And Suzanne Titus, Binovia’s director ‘ of business development, emphasizes that cross-trained techs save valuable time and money. "Gaps in service take time and money and detract from patient care," she said. "Helping someone extend the life of their PACS is a huge cost-saver."

Fisher stresses that Binovia’s technicians work with, not against, a hospital’s in-house IT department. “This is a new concept, but it’s something that we’ve seen a definite need for,” he said. “We’re not competition with an IT department. We’re supplemental as well as primary. We know how systems interrelate, so hospitals wind up working with one generally knowledgeable person instead of going throughthree or four meetings with several people.”

—Cat Vasko

Mammo Solution Alleviates Drag and Drop Woes

Although today’s radiologists are used to viewing digital images on a workstation, where they can compare prior studies on a monitor side-by-side with the new study, mammography has been an exception to this trend.

"It has been the last to hold out in the conversion to digital," said David Smarro, president and CEO, Infinitt North America, Phillipsburg, NJ.

Mammo Visualgate, from Infinitt North America, presents radiologists with the same hanging protocols as digital exams.

Facilities that are in the process of converting to full-field digital mam-mography often must compare new digital studies to previous studies on film. As more institutions convert to digital mammography, the difficulty in electronic image/film comparison has become a major issue, Smarro said. Mammography studies are displayed in conformance with special hanging protocols, which are possible because patient positioning data in the DICOM header allows the workstation to hang images in the correct manner.

"Traditional film digitizing allows the film studies to be scanned and converted to DICOM images so they can be sent to the mammo workstation, but it does not include the positioning data needed for the workstation to hang the images correctly and consistently," Smarro said. "As a result, the radiologist spends additional time moving the digitized images around the screen to position them appropriately."

This problem has set the stage for a new solution from Infinitt North America, which is offering a way to eliminate this tedious step.

The Mammo Visualgate enables technologists to assign correct positioning data to the film study during scanning. Allowing mammography films to be digitized with the correct anatomical view image tags, the Mammo Visualgate images are presented with the same hanging protocol as the digital exams. "These image tags enable the workstation to hang the prior images as easily as a new digital study," Smarro said.

As a result of the success of its Visualgate Expert product, Infinitt began development of the mammogra-phy functionality a year ago. The software provides many benefits to users, Smarro said, including reduced reading time and improved productivity.

It also populates the patient demographic and study identification fields directly from the worklist, thereby eliminating time-consuming manual processes.

"Without this software, radiologists would need to ‘drag and drop’ each image in place before interpreting the study," said Mark Wellens, MD, a diagnostic radiologist at Springfield Hospital in Springfield, Vt. "This is counterproductive in today’s work-flow-driven radiology department."

Elaine Sanchez

New IPIX Staves Off Germs, Dust

Datalux Corp, Winchester, Va, looks to make another addition to the medical industry, with the new version of its best-selling IPIX computer.

The Datalux IPIX is an all-in-one, sealed, and fan-less PC designed primarily for use in hospitals and patient care applications.

The Datalux IPIX PC is designed for use in hospitals and patient care applications.

"Because the compact IPIX is designed as a computer for use when space is at a premium, there are two separate markets for the product: first, for patient care environments, and second, for OEM applications where the IPIX is built in as part of a larger piece of diagnostic equipment," said Gary Davis, Datalux corporate director of sales and marketing."

Featuring an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, Microsoft Windows Vista support, increased memory and data storage capacity, and a removable hard disk drive, the Datalux IPIX was designed with infection control in mind. Davis pointed out that several key features make it ideal for the patient care space, such as the all-in-one form factor, sealed and fan-less cases, and all-molded plastic and painted metal surfaces that incorporate a silver ion-based antimicrobial additive.

"These features allow the IPIX to be easily cleaned and disinfected with standard hospital solutions for infection control purposes," Davis said. "Dust and microbes don’t collect inside the IPIX; as a result, they don’t get expelled in another part of the hospital. The entire unit can be wiped down with standard hospital disinfecting solutions."

According to the company, most of the improvements to the computer were "under the hood," with backlit icons as the only visible change on the front panel of the system. These icons can dim the display for nighttime users or turn the display off entirely for privacy.

Because computers in patient care environments are usually on mobile carts, movable arms, or wall mounts, where they may be subjected to shock and vibration, the IPIX is designed with a cast aluminum backplate and shock-mounted hard disk drive.

“The compact size of the IPIX and the overall design of the all-in-one system also make the IPIX an excellent choice for OEM applications where the IPIX may be used for control or monitoring of diagnostic or therapeutic equipment,” Davis said. “All connectors are located in a central connector block, making it easy to incorporate the IPIX into an existing medical device.”

Additionally, the IPIX is designed to accept a variety of input power, which enables the Intel Core 2 Duo-based IPIX to replace outdated control or monitoring systems. In order to incorporate the IPIX into new or existing equipment, users can employ industry standard VESA mounting solutions.

“The IPIX makes it easy to bridge the gap between the medical worker and the IT department, providing a system with medical needs in mind while providing an advanced system that meets the demands of the IT staff as well,” Davis said, adding that optional touch screens encourage user-friendliness and advanced processor and wireless capabilities make for easy integration into the IT setting.

The IPIX is available with a 17-inch SXGA color display or a 20-inch UXGA display. The latest version is the fourth-generation all-in-one computer from Datalux. It comes with a standard 3-year, return-to-factory warranty.

E. Sanchez