Managing the Flow in Radiology

IDC Upgrades Imaging Software
Customers Applaud eRAD RIS/PACS
Integrated Software Improves Mammography
It’s All in the Features and Functionality!

IDC Upgrades Imaging Software

IDC, or Imaging Dynamics Company Ltd, Calgary, Alberta, has announced Magellan version 3.4, which it says is a “highly anticipated release” of its proprietary image acquisition software.

As a major upgrade to IDC’s CCD-based digital radiography product offering, Magellan 3.4 offers an updated calibration wizard, extended parameter ranges, and the new BrightField model, an adaptive algorithm that optimizes diagnostic image quality and consistency.

It is compatible with the IDC Xplorer and X-Series DR platforms, and it will be available through IDC’s global distribution channels.

Tom Boon, IDC president and CEO, said the upgrades demonstrate the company’s commitment to its customers and their changing requirements and needs.

“This new software platform represents an evolution for existing IDC users and is consistent with our focus on meeting customer needs by providing enhancements that improve the performance of their IDC DR systems,” Boon continued. “The introduction of the new Magellan software demonstrates our commitment to meeting our customers’ needs and continual improvement. We have once again shown outstanding innovation in the industry with our user-friendly image acquisition software and DR technology.”

End user Milt Getz, director of radiology for Midwest Orthopaedic Center in Peoria, Ill, said the new release has allowed for heightened functionality and efficiency.

“Our technologists are impressed with the new features provided by the Magellan 3.4 software,” Getz said. “Its increased functionality has shown a positive impact on the workflow in our three IDC DR rooms. The orthopedic physicians are pleased with the consistent density and high-quality images achieved using the new Magellan software.”

Key features of Magellan include high-resolution image capture, PureView adaptive image processing algorithms, VIPER visual image parameter editor for image optimization, and tools for tissue equalization, sharpening, auto-crop, and auto-shutter. Image preview is available in less than 6 seconds, according to IDC.

Furthermore, the system allows for generator integration with IDC standard generators; export to JPEG, TIFF, or DICOM formats; dual detector support; and predefined text annotations, among other offerings. For the orthopedic market, IDC recently equipped its software with the optional feature to perform image stitching with the touch of a button, ideal for scoliosis and long bone studies.

Magellan 3.4 is included with all new IDC DR Systems and available for existing customer upgrades.

—Elaine Sanchez

Customers Applaud eRAD RIS/PACS

Why all the kudos for eRAD’s RIS/PACS system? Customers say the state-of-the-art digital workflow solution provides ease of use, Web-based access for referring physicians, reduction of cost, administrative efficiency, and the ability to improve patient care.

eRad RIS/PACS systems are installed in more than 225 facilities across the nation.

Physician Healthcare Network of Fort Gratiot, Mich, is the latest customer to select the eRAD PACS system concurrent with implementing the digital conversion of its x-ray equipment in urgent care facilities to computed radiography in five locations. Douglas A. Dolph, executive director for Physician Healthcare Network, said the installation occurred during the normal course of business without interruption to the practice. “Installing a fully digital system has increased our efficiency, improved the patient treatment cycle, and is enhancing our quality of care,” he said.

Igor Nedic, MD, a family practice physician, said having digital diagnostic images immediately available facilitates a faster, more effective diagnosis. “The tools available in the eRAD PACS prove to be extremely beneficial as compared to traditional film. In addition, there is also a cost savings realized in film storage and supplies.”

eRAD systems are installed in more than 225 customer sites throughout the United States, including Clarksville Imaging Center in Tennessee; MRI Lincoln Imaging and Preferred MRI, multisite imaging services providers in the Chicago area; and Health Diagnostics, a national provider of outpatient diagnostic imaging services with 33 locations in California, New York, New Jersey, and Florida. These newest customers chose eRAD PACS to meet their demanding workflow needs and the needs of their referring physicians to ultimately improve the way they care for their patients.

According to MRI Lincoln’s administrator, Hilda Escamilla, eRAD is helping their imaging centers reach their goal of going completely digital. “After an extensive study, we chose eRAD PACS as the system that would help us as we pursue our mission to become filmless and paperless in 2009,” she said.

Mike Young, vice president of client services for eRAD, said Lincoln is a particularly interesting implementation which will employ the eRAD Worklist Server configuration with multiple clusters, each having its own study archive and using a shared disaster recovery backup.

“Combine this with use of eRAD’s integrated speech recognition capabilities and HL-7 interface to a legacy RIS, and Lincoln will have state-of-the-art digital workflow capability,” Young explained. “Lincoln will be operational with eRAD PACS in early 2009.”

According to administrator Michelle DeRegis, Clarksville Imaging Center originally chose eRAD PACS based on its Web-based design, but has since implemented eRAD’s archiving, disaster recovery and integrated speech recognition modules.

“Our mission is to be the leader in the community offering high-quality, caring, diagnostic radiology services in a pleasant outpatient setting,” she said. “We will anticipate and meet the priority health needs of our patients and referring physicians.”

—Verina Palmer Martin

Integrated Software Improves Mammography

Connect Imaging, developer of customizable PACS, and Mammography Reporting System Inc (MRS) have integrated their software solutions to improve efficiency and accuracy in mammography record tracking, reporting, and patient correspondence.

Philip Manly, CEO, Connect Imaging

Because existing PACS and MRS solutions are separate systems, radiology reports generated from the images are manually entered into medical records, which is time-consuming and can result in transcription errors, explained Mark Morris, CEO of the MRS tracking and reporting system for breast-related radiology procedures.

To merge these applications, programmers from both companies spent hundreds of hours creating channels that eliminate the need for duplicate data entry by increasing data flow between the PACS and the mammography reporting system. The software upgrade can automatically populate patient records with the radiologists’ findings and prefetched archived images for comparisons.

“In my opinion, it’s kind of a failed situation where you’re looking at digital information on one system and you can’t look at it in another system without manually entering into it,” Morris said.

Integrating these systems increases the quality of the outcomes while decreasing associated costs by providing more information, better information, and timely information, he said.

In mammography studies, specific images are taken to look for anomalies or changes in breast tissue. Morris said integration will help speed up the process by digitally retrieving previous images and reports for comparison rather than having to fetch films from archives.

“It’s the wave of the future to have these interconnected records, which is heading toward this digital nirvana of electronic health records,” said Morris, who added that the Connect/MRS partnership will offer a “quantum leap in efficiencies” for busy mammography facilities.

“It really makes life easier on the radiologist and eliminates the possibility of errors when the data is entered, whether by the radiologist or by the transcriptionist,” he said. “Radiologists want to spend their time on the findings and the assessment. They don’t want to spend their time on entering data into the computer.”

Connect Imaging CEO Philip Manly said each company brings its own expertise to the partnership. “MRS doesn’t know PACS and we don’t know reporting, but we do know our own areas,” he said. “Both of us had the idea that we wanted to see better integration between the various pieces used in mammography, such as reading, reporting, scheduling, and billing. We saw this as something that would be a good thing for the marketplace. Everybody should have systems that can talk to each other very, very closely.

“MRS has a very good structured reporting system for mammography, a much prescribed type of reporting and reading system,” Manly continued. “It’s possible to build in systems to make it easier to send out standard reports or notate findings without a lot of time. The goal is to get it as seamless as you can. I expect, as we go on, we will be getting more and more integration.”

Connect and MRS users can be upgraded with the integration software any time, and Manly said clients are thrilled at the potential improvements in efficiency and cost savings. “Now that they know about it, they have been wondering, why didn’t somebody think of that already?” he said.

“A lot of times when you’re plowing new fields like this, there’s reluctance for manufacturers to do it without an existing customer,” Morris added. “This is very prospective on our part, but I really think it’s going to make sense for users.”

—V. Palmer Martin

It’s All in the Features and Functionality!

Neshoba County General Hospital (NCGH) Philadelphia, Miss, is the latest hospital to select the Avreo interWORKS™ RIS/PACS radiology workflow e-system, which has been installed in 230 sites across the United States to integrate patient scheduling, front desk check-in, diagnostic and clinical viewing, dictation and transcription, as well as automated report distribution in a single database.

The hospital chose Avreo’s Web-based interWORKS because of its integration capabilities, functionality, and cost-effectiveness in the diagnostic imaging department, as well as its ability to increase department efficiencies. The Avreo system includes interVIEW, an image management module, interSCRIBE, for dictation/transcription, and interFLOW, which manages radiology workflow for front desk, back office, and clinical operations. InterFLOW also can be tailored to meet individual radiology needs.

Its streamlining features also provide a delivery system for reports, which when finalized are electronically signed by the radiologist and automatically delivered via fax and/or e-mail to the referring physicians. Patient reports and images can be viewed via a secure Internet connection.

NCGH director of radiology Kerry Smith said the Avreo solution encompassed all the features and functionality the hospital was seeking: “The interWORKS system allows our imaging department to operate more efficiently; our report turnaround time has been cut in half, allowing our providers to spend more time on patient care and less time shuffling papers.”

Smith said referring physicians are pleased because they can review the patient’s images and reports right in their office, which increases their efficiency and turnaround times.

In a recent study by KLAS, an independently owned and operated health care research organization, Avreo was ranked the #1 RIS/PACS solution for community hospitals citing “straightforward functionality, easy implementation, and low total cost of ownership” as its key strengths.

Avreo’s MasterFolder concept digitizes the traditional paper workflow. Existing customers say the affordable integrated system is user friendly, requires little training, and improves efficiency of scheduling, transcription, and reporting. They cited quality, cost, versatility of tools, and configuration of the system to meet their facilities’ needs as key factors for choosing Avreo.

chose interWORKS as its RIS/PACS solution last October. “We evaluated multiple vendors and selected Avreo for their superior functionality and ease of use,” said Eddy Rivers, chief operating officer at DSGA. “It provided us with all the functionality we wanted, and it fit within our budget.”

Rivers lauded Avreo’s workflow management tool. “We can assign a case to a specialist at one of our locations for reading. The request immediately pops up on their screen, they can dictate to the server, and a report is automatically generated. We also can tie in our referring physicians so they can quickly access reports and images,” he said. “Avreo keeps our radiologists and referring physicians very happy.”

Putnam General Hospital in Eatonton, Ga, which last May added speech recognition functionality to its interWORKS system, has experienced a significant cost savings since its seamless installation almost 2 years ago.

“We were outsourcing our transcription services, which were expensive and not always efficient. With Avreo’s speech recognition tools, we can do all dictations in house, which will save us about $20,000 per month,” said director of imaging Wanda Hallman. She also praised the company’s customer service. “Our radiologists and staff love the system and Avreo has partnered with our facility to configure the software to meet our specific needs; the changes were implemented within 2 weeks.”

—V. Palmer Martin