Managing the Flow in Radiology

Teaming Up on CAD
CR on Board!
The Rise of Radiology Social Networks

Teaming Up on CAD

Recognizing a tremendous value in CAD technology, Merge Healthcare?s executive team met with Confirma Inc during last year?s meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. They liked what the company had to say, so much so that in August, the businesses announced a merger agreement, and in September, they finalized the acquisition.

?We actually have many common customers, both within our indirect channel and in our provider end users,? said Justin Dearborn, CEO of Merge Healthcare. ?Common customers have been very positive, as this consolidates vendors, guarantees tighter product integration, and will make the relationship easier. Merge customers now have access to new technology, and there will be more development resources working on clinical imaging applications.?

According to Dearborn, Confirma had encountered market concern with regard to its financial viability and future. With the acquisition, its CADstream products will be integrated into Merge?s image management systems and fuel new workflow technologies from Merge?s OEM division.

Renamed Merge CAD, Confirma will be operated as a business unit of Merge led by Paul Budak, who has 4 years of experience with Confirma.

Dearborn said Confirma had adopted an indirect business model that was similar to Merge?s own OEM business unit approach. In the short term, Merge expects to bring Confirma technologies to its international and OEM distribution channels, in addition to integrating the firms? breast imaging solutions.

?Mid-term, we believe CAD has opportunities in clinical trials, as well as other areas of diagnostic health IT,? Dearborn continued. ?There is also a long-term vision to expand the use of CAD in humanitarian markets and to bring additional efficiency to established markets where imaging costs are under pressure.?

Commenting on the merger?s future implications, Dearborn believes that the combined companies will be equipped to promote global adoption of CAD technology. ?We see a great future for CAD products with Merge,? he concluded. ?Not only can they be integrated with existing applications, but they can also be extended for use in clinical trials and expanded internationally for better global access to imaging technologies. We will offer the CADstream products just as they are sold today: primarily through our partner channel and also directly to end users. They can and will continue to work on other vendor PACS platforms.?

?Elaine Sanchez

CR on Board!

Torrance, Calif-based iCRco is enjoying life on the open water as of late. The company?s iCR3600 computed radiography system has been steadily earning its sea legs, with recent installs on board a pair of popular cruise lines, as well as a Coast Guard ship.

The company last month announced that its CR system was on board the World ResidenSea and a Port Canaveral family-oriented cruise line, with maximum capacities of 1,046 and 3,325, respectively.

?It was a great pleasure to learn iCRco was selected as the preferred vendor for these exceptional, family-oriented cruise lines,? said Mark Valentine, president and COO of iCRco. ?We are proud to have recently installed the iCR3600 on the Coast Guard?s Healey, and we are starting to make waves in maritime health care. This is just another example of how versatile our CR machines are and the environments they are operating in.?

Without a local area network, there is an obvious restriction of connectivity out in the sea. ?Challenges of maritime radiology are a fact, that?s true. There is limited access of connectivity to the broadband Internet,? said radiological technologist Lisa Dougherty, an iCRco application specialist. Furthermore, prior exams would likely not be available.

Nevertheless, Dougherty believes that CR systems have made it much easier for on-board physicians to acquire a diagnosis once connectivity is established. Despite the limitations, digital radiology has changed the face of maritime imaging, for example, allowing computer-based identification of potentially life-threatening conditions without a physician on board. The CR can be mounted on a wall, making it an ideal choice for a small maritime x-ray room.

?Durability and the proven reliability of iCR3600 make this CR the ideal choice for many unconventional environments for medical imaging,? Dougherty continued. ?iCRco products have been tested and withstood many vigorous military testing drills and operated flawlessly under harsh conditions.?

According to iCRco, the company?s Clarity PACS system sports a number of benefits, including zero downtime, easy training, low cost of entry, and manageable maintenance. Furthermore, it enables permanent storage of images in a small footprint with the capability to transmit images through the vessel.

?Depending on the preference of the end user, acquired images can be stored on board or transmitted wirelessly to a land-based PACS,? Dougherty explained. ?iCRco CR systems can store up to many years of data in the maritime setting; however, it may also be a choice to keep patient data on board and back up to an external land-based PACS.?

iCRco said it is currently in talks for more installations, and it expects to fill the demand for maritime radiology solutions.

?The future of maritime imaging will involve integration of computer-aided diagnostic tools with digital imaging modalities through the PACS,? Dougherty said. ?Faster Internet connections via satellite will also be critical to exchanging information quickly and efficiently.?

?E. Sanchez

The Rise of Radiology Social Networks

Radiologists are consumers, too, and they?re also businesspeople. So it?s not surprising that there are a growing number of social networking Web sites and professional groups on the Internet these days. What is the benefit of radiologists spending time on social networks or even Tweeting? It may be too early to answer those questions, but one thing is for certain: Social networking for radiologists?and other physician specialties?has arrived.

Without a doubt, the three largest social networking platforms are Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter. A casual search of these sites reveals that physicians are indeed using these applications, at least on a personal level.

Facebook and Linkedin, and to some extent Twitter, all have the ability to incorporate individuals with common interests into a ?group.?

For example, if one searches Facebook with the term ?radiology,? 584 search results come up. More than 500 of these are not individuals, but rather are listed as ?groups.? While some of these groups have fewer than 100 members, ?Radiology,? the first group on the Facebook list, has 2,322 members.

Some members appear to be students, while others appear to be professional, practicing radiologists. There are discussion topics about various technologies and techniques, as well as an informal job board.

On Linkedin, which is known as a more business-oriented networking Web site, there are 50 groups under the search term ?Radiology.? The largest group is called GE HIT (Healthcare Information Technology) with 1,335 members.

The second largest is radRounds with 873 members (and is also on Facebook and Twitter). However, radRounds is not just an informal group on these platforms. It has its own separate radiology social networking Web site at, which lists nearly 3,000 members.

Finally, there?s Twitter. While some might think Twitter is too unprofessional, you can actually find the American College of Radiology (ACR) at Tweeting to its 611 followers about radiology news from around the world, as well as from the ACR. Those ?Tweeters? following the ACR are not all radiologists, technologists, and researchers, but many are. Others appear to be spam related.

What is the purpose of these and other social networking sites? Certainly, businesses are creating these platforms in order to attract niche markets for targeted advertising and radiology recruitment.

As for radiologists, there are many potential benefits. However, to receive those benefits, it probably requires some effort to learn each platform?s tools and to contribute to the network. It may also require the user to hone their choices in groups or networks to a particular subspecialty.

For example, imagine a social network of only women?s imaging radiologists, researchers, and technicians. Here, participants can exchange information about the latest digital mammography technology, share new techniques or research on breast MR, or generate referrals.

None of these social networking platforms would allow the circumvention of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws, so patient information would need to be excluded. However, physicians would still be able to discuss general radiology challenges.

In fact, radRounds offers an e-mail newsletter of ?the case of the day? and it also offers other e-newsletters about CME courses, lectures, and job events.

From a cursory viewing of these social networks, there appear to be profiles that are inactive. One could conceivably be a passive user of these social networks, reading the latest information or comments, but never adding one?s own thoughts or information.

Then again, personal, nonprofessional social networks are built for interaction, exchanging social information, networking, and reconnecting with old friends. Consequently, perhaps the expression, ?You get out of it what you put into it,? applies to radiology professional networks as well.

?Tor Valenza