By Elaine Sanchez

· Now Hear This: Philips and 3M Integrate Speech Recognition and Document Creation
· Surgical Market Newcomer Develops High-Def Monitor
· Tech Zoom: Enhance Technology Unleashes Storage Solution
· Driving Forward
· Tech Zoom: A Better Way to Monitor and Quantify Regional Brain Atrophy

Now Hear This: Philips and 3M Integrate Speech Recognition and Document Creation

Amsterdam-based Royal Philips Electronics and 3M Health Information Systems, St Paul, Minn, recently announced that Philips SpeechMagic, the company’s speech-recognition engine, has been integrated into 3M’s document-creation suite of products.

The agreement allows 3M customers to gain access to front- and back-end speech recognition, while expanding upon Philips’ ever-growing family of partners.

“To expedite the creation of documents and to lower the cost associated with document creation, we wanted to employ technology that complemented our product line,” said Kerry Waltrip, 3M’s national accounts executive. “3M is taking great pride in building very robust systems to be employed in very challenging environments.”

Nick van Terheyden, chief medical officer for Philips Speech Recognition Systems, also pointed to the companies’ compatible technologies.

“From our view, it was an obvious marriage,” van Terheyden said. “We’re well matched in terms of our technology. With some of the synergies that we see, particularly with 3M focusing on the health care space, there’s a real strength in our partnership.”

According to van Terheyden, recent estimates have shown that $42 billion has been spent in transcription, the process by which medical records are printed and incorporated into the record.

With the new alliance, 3M and Philips anticipate multiple efficiencies to arise, particularly in terms of documentation and capture of information.

Waltrip said their customers will be able to edit, finalize, and distribute voice files. The integration brings about linkage to leading PACS and radiology information system vendors, he continued. Speech recognition, van Terheyden explains, facilitates the transcription process, makes it more efficient, and allows it to occur faster and with less human resource, all of which ultimately brings about specific patient and clinical benefits.

“Turning around information quicker allows physicians to make decisions of care—and provide better, more appropriated care—because the information is more readily available and accessible in digital form,” van Terheyden said.

Speaking on the value of a collaborative effort in today’s health care climate, Marcel Wassink, CEO of Philips Speech Recognition Systems, emphasized the importance of fast, consistent documentation.

“In today’s team-based approach to medicine, accurate documentation can save lives,” Wassink said. “It ensures that all team members during every stage of the care cycle have access to the latest patient information.”

van Terheyden elaborated on the significance of a team-based approach, saying that the two companies are currently in the process of creating joint solutions. In fact, the pair’s next project is to develop Interop, which involves the ability to take speech and convert it into clinically actionable data. The data would then be linked to knowledge bases that provide alerts and supports to the clinical process. By doing this, the companies hope to relieve physicians of what van Terheyden describes as the “overwhelming tsunami” of clinical data with which they must deal.

“[Physicians] need help and support, and that needs to be real time if we want to catch errors, rather than report on them,” van Terheyden said.

Surgical Market Newcomer Develops High-Def Monitor

Medical display specialist Barco, of Belgium, has expanded its portfolio of near-patient display solutions for surgical imaging to include a new, wide-screen product equipped with full high-definition resolution.

Barco’s 24-inch MDSC-2124 display solution.

Introduced to the crowd at the ACS Clinical Congress in New Orleans, the 24-inch MDSC-2124 builds on the technology of Barco’s 19-inch display and is designed for pairing with high-definition endoscopy programs from various vendors.

According to Kurt DeYoung, Barco’s North American business development manager, the high ambient lighting conditions at the trade show were comparable to those in the operating room, and the simulated environment allowed physicians to see for themselves that there was no adverse effect on the image. They also were able to observe the product’s panoramic views and improved depth perception, even when viewing the screen at an angle.

“We were very pleased with the feedback from the show,” DeYoung said. “Physicians were very impressed with the imaging quality.”

With broad input connectivity, the monitor is a versatile solution for HD endoscopy cameras, room and boom cameras, ultrasound, PACS, and patient information. While many surgical displays are attuned to specific camera types, DeYoung said his company is looking at the market from a different perspective, instead opting to build a system that is the most flexible while providing maximized image quality.

“Barco is focused on making it a flexible product that can accept signals from any camera type and making it a flexible solution for hospitals implementing new medical display systems,” DeYoung continued.

The product is developed to meet patient safety and design requirements relating to medical devices used in the operating room. Specifically, the advanced display features a sealed fanless design, eliminating contaminants that run the risk of moving through the air. Encased in cast-aluminum with protective glass, units are easy to clean between surgical procedures.

Motion-adaptive deinterlacing and noise reduction ensure reliable delivery of artifact- and lag-free images. A low-voltage, external DC power supply can be easily routed through a boom structure up to 100 feet away from the display. Furthermore, the display is equipped with a feature that enables picture-in-picture from multiple input signals so that clinicians can have access to vital information from multiple sources during procedures.

Although it is a newcomer to the surgical market, Barco is eager to apply the knowledge it has gained from its 15- to 20-year tenure providing soft-copy image monitors for radiology applications, DeYoung said.

“With our strength in the radiology market, we feel like we have an edge over many in the surgical display community who don’t understand how important the radiology imaging chain is to surgical procedures,” DeYoung said. “There is a growing crossover between radiology imaging and its use in surgical procedures, and we saw that as a good opportunity to leverage our expertise.”

Tech Zoom: Enhance Technology Unleashes Storage Solution

The latest innovation from Enhance Technology Inc, Santa Fe Springs, Calif, is the UltraStor RS16, representing the next generation of SAS RAID storage solutions.

Designed to be integrated and versatile, the UltraStor RS16 offers RAID-6 data protection, nondestructive RAID-level migration, automatic background data regeneration, and dynamic online volume expansion. The product also includes streamlined Web-based management and Multi-Path I/O support for Windows workstations and servers.

With a 3U one-disk SAS storage array, UltraStor RS16 is capable of data-transfer rates that surpass 800MB/s. It supports up to 16TB of data across 16 SATA drives on RAID-5/6, a financially efficient feature that appeals to small- and medium-sized enterprises. Moreover, it holds 4.8TB of SAS disk storage, which can serve as a cost-effective alternative to Fibre Channel.

The 3GB SAS RAID controller can be configured for any RAID level in order to meet various data-protection requirements. It is also equipped with automatic data regeneration, and industry standard interface ports.

UltraStor RS16 is available with scalable storage capacity up to 16TB on RAID-5/6 on SAS or SATA HDDs directly through Enhance Technology and its authorized dealers worldwide.

Driving Forward

Carestream enhances digital dashboard

Driving Carestream Health Inc, Rochester, NY, even further into the RIS frontier, the newly enhanced KODAK CARESTREAM Digital Dashboard is now available for system administrators interested in proactively monitoring equipment performance, storage utilization, and user volumes in addition to verifying network communication of other vendors’ devices.

An enhanced version of the dashboard launched this past spring, the latest product has been developed to support monitoring of KODAK CARESTREAM RIS operations.

Robert J. Homan, RT, uses the KODAK CARESTREAM Digital Dashboard.

According to customer Robert J. Homan, RT, RIS/PACS clinical coordinator at Joint Township District Memorial Hospital in St Mary’s, Ohio, the digital dashboard facilitates the monitoring process and fosters timely problem-solving.

“Being able to monitor equipment and processes from the digital dashboard takes just 10 percent as much time as it would take me to monitor these systems individually,” Homan said. “In addition, the ability to launch administrative tools from the dashboard expedites resolution of any issues.”

From an existing laptop or desktop computer, users can operate the digital dashboard to track the number of concurrent users for a device, the number of read and unread imaging studies, as well as the status of other tasks.

Maintenance checklists provide task details, reminders, and a history of completed actions, and a stoplight graphic display offers immediate feedback regarding the status of any monitored device. Furthermore, it has the capacity to provide statistics on patient ID conflicts, missing accession numbers, and patient imaging studies that require backup—all of which contribute to the ensured accuracy of patient information. These features allow administrators to identify and resolve potential problems, therefore optimizing workflow.

The dashboard is also equipped to deliver summary reports on system efficiency, which allows administrators to adjust schedules and effectively distribute patient and system workloads. Disk capacity, database storage, and processes are continuously monitored, allowing for the dashboard to alert administrators when systems are about to experience a shortage. For example, if a process encounters a glitch or a directory is almost full, administrators can tackle the issue before any users are negatively impacted.

Tech Zoom: A Better Way to Monitor and Quantify Regional Brain Atrophy

Advances in technology that can potentially help physicians make better treatment decisions for Alzheimer’s patients and other neurological cases are always welcome additions to the market. That’s just what developer CorTechs Labs Inc, La Jolla, Calif, has to offer with NeuroQuant, a software tool that delivers fully automated neurological MRI analysis and reports to the physician’s workstation.

The company has dubbed its latest product as the first practical solution for accurately quantifying regional brain atrophy in patients diagnosed with neurodegenerative disorders.

By using the medical device, neurologists, neuroradiologists, and other experts in the diagnosis and treatment of CNS disorders will have access to all quantified changes in clinical settings.

This derived information may facilitate the monitoring of stages of disease in individual patients.

Among its various features, NeuroQuant first minimizes scanner image-acquisition artifacts that formerly hindered automated MRI analysis. After the initial screening, intelligent image-analysis and feature-extraction processes identify anatomical structures in the data that are known to atrophy in particular diseases. Once numerical information about the sizes of the structures is extracted, the analysis is presented to the referring physician in the form of an easy-to-read report. Ultimately, the document’s contents can be compared to age-appropriate normative data.

University of California, San Diego, neurologist James Brewer, who studies the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on the brain, said postprocessing MRI data with NeuroQuant provides an efficient means of evaluating treatment options while considering the measurable extent and progression of patient brain atrophy.

“There is a great deal of scientific evidence that brain structures, such as the hippocampus, begin to atrophy in the early stages of dementia,” Brewer said. “Reliably characterizing such changes based on MRI data requires quantitative techniques, but previous methods for deriving numerical information from MRI scans have been too slow and cumbersome for use outside of research studies.”

The software product has received 510(k) clearance from the FDA for marketing as a medical device “intended for automatic labeling, visualization, and volumetric quantification of segmentable brain structures from a set of MR images.”

The MRI scans routed from a scanner or PACS are received as input, and NeuroQuant can automatically return age-related atrophy reports and numerical and color-blended anatomical volumes annotated with graphical overlays to most DICOM-compliant PACS viewers or third-party workstations. Additionally, the data-analysis tool can be configured to supply automated MRI quantification solutions to independent health care providers, imaging centers, and large firms conducting multisite clinical trials.

CorTechs President Michael E. Smith praised the team of engineers and researchers who created the data-analysis software, noting the resource’s self-sufficient components.

“CorTechs’ outstanding engineering team and affiliated researchers have developed a powerful pipeline of sophisticated analysis processes that can quantify MRIs without human intervention,” Smith said.

This derived information may facilitate the monitoring of stages of disease in individual patients.