Managing the Flow in Radiology

TeraRecon Enhances Advanced Visualization
March Madness for ProSolv
Executive Interview: Paul Merrild, AMICAS
Siemens Shares the Knowledge at HIMSS

TeraRecon Enhances Advanced Visualization

With the release of Version 4.4 of their client-server advanced visualization solution, the Aquarius iNtuition (AQi), at the European Congress of Radiology, its impressive showing at the Workstation Face-Off, and the announcement of 110% growth in European sales bookings over the last year, TeraRecon president Robert Taylor, PhD, had reason to be pleased with his company this March.

TeraRecon’s Aquarius iNtuition Version 4.4 includes a host of new features.

“It has been a long road of intense commitment to innovation to achieve a proper implementation of client-server technology for a full suite of advanced visualization tools,” he said, “but the results have exceeded even our own expectations. We believe this truly is an important milestone in the impact of advanced visualization on the standard of care.”

Taylor went on to say, “We have always believed that by providing a specialized and dedicated solution for department-wide or enterprise-wide advanced visualization, we offer a compelling value proposition, through integrated workflow across various modalities, and seamless integration with other medical image and information management systems, such as PACS, RIS, and EMR. We believe we are seeing the validation of this philosophy as an ever-increasing number of customers in the EU region select TeraRecon as their advanced visualization partner,” he said.

TeraRecon’s Aquarius iNtuition Version 4.4 advanced visualization solution includes new features for Endovascular Aortic Repair Planning (EARP), user-customizable measurement protocols with multiple format exporting capabilities, CT colon review that supports Primary 2D and 3D interpretation styles, and Time-Dependence Analysis (TDA) of perfusion studies. Additionally, the SAT oncology package for segmentation, analysis, and tracking of suspicious masses is available for use at any time during image review.

“With AQi 4.4, TeraRecon has delivered the world’s first fully featured client server advanced visualization solution. iNtuition is the only true client-server advanced visualization technology available on the market today that can address the suite of applications generally expected to be available by medical imaging providers. iNtuition does not use ‘remote control via the web’ technology to achieve a facsimile of ‘thin client’ operation, but rather, AQi has been designed from the ground up as a truly native client-server technology platform. The difference in performance, functionality, cost, and value-for-money is substantial and meaningful, and already well understood by our many iNtuition customers to date,” Taylor said.

In addition to the features described above, the AQi 4.4 includes the AquariusWEB viewer, which provides a referring physician or patient with a simple link for Web access. Access requires only a password that should allow easier logging and auditing, while removing much of the need to burn images on CD.

At the ECR, the AQi 4.4, with its client-server system, matched up against four previous generation thick client, stand-alone workstations in the second annual Workstation Face-Off. The face-off included tasks to calculate the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) as part of a cardiac examination and to automatically detect polyps as part of a colon examination. As well as being the only workstation able to securely distribute interactive results from an e-mail link, the AQi 4.4 had the best accuracy in the LVEF measurement and equal best accuracy detecting polyps using TeraRecon’s “SphereFinder.”

Following the face-off, Taylor had this to say: “It’s wonderful to see this objective validation of the performance of iNtuition not only in terms of speed and functionality, but also in terms of accuracy, compared with both competing systems and objective standards. Furthermore, considering all this was achieved using client-server technology when all other companies had to rely on the previous generation of advanced visualization technology—stand-alone, thick client workstations. This really emphasizes the technological advantage that TeraRecon enjoys and the benefit this can bring to medical imaging practitioners and the patients in their care.”

—Ed Wilson

March Madness for ProSolv

March was filled with action for ProSolv CardioVascular, a FUJIFILM company, which during the month of March released an updated version of its software to the world and announced a partnership with GE Healthcare.

One of several new products highlighted at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) meeting, the Synapse ProSolv cardiovascular 4.0.1 offers integrated ECG management capability and integration with the Siemens Sensis Hemodynamic system.

“The release of Synapse ProSolv cardiovascular 4.0.1 is another significant step as we move toward a unified platform for the management of all cardiovascular information and images, regardless of modality or vendor,” said ProSolv Cardiovascular president and CEO Aaron Waitz. “Health care providers need this single point of access and unified view of the complete patient history. By building on the world-class, Web-based technology of Fujifilm’s Synapse PACS, we will continue to include greater diagnostic functionality and enhance the efficiency and decision-making capabilities of health care providers.”

According to the company, Synapse ProSolv cardiovascular 4.0.1 provides additional third-party integrations that aim to increase efficiencies significantly in the diagnostic process for cardiologists and the cardiovascular staff. Users are able to manage and coordinate every ECG from any department that has Internet access with a single sign-on.

Furthermore, data from the Siemens Sensis Hemodynamic system can now be imported directly into the Synapse ProSolv cardiovascular database, as well as into the cardiac catheterization report template. Health care providers can capture information required for the ACC-NCDR data registries for outcomes reporting.

Synapse ProSolv cardiovascular 4.0.1 is available to both new and existing customers.

In related news, toward the end of the month, ProSolv announced a formal affiliation with GE Healthcare’s Cardiovascular Ultrasound unit. The companies will work together to develop an integrated solution aimed at improving workflow for echocardiography departments and look to expand user access to advanced quantitative analysis packages.

GE currently offers an advanced analysis and quantification software module called EchoPAC, which is designed for the analysis of raw data image sets from GE cardiovascular ultrasound systems. With the new partnership, GE Healthcare and ProSolv CardioVascular hope to make information more universally accessible by cardiologists and other clinical staff to streamline the diagnostic process and enhance diagnostic confidence.

“We’re pleased to be working with GE with the aim to deliver advanced integrations that will provide diagnostic and workflow efficiency improvements to our mutual customers,” Waitz said. “There is a definite need for more open access to data throughout cardiovascular departments and health care systems as a whole. By leveraging our vendor-neutral solution, we’ll aim to provide unlimited access to state of the art ultrasound advanced clinical applications, taking one more step forward on the quest to improve the vital exchange of health care information.”

—Elaine Sanchez

Executive Interview: Paul Merrild, AMICAS

When New York-based Health Systems Solutions couldn’t come up with the financing it needed to complete its merger deal with Emageon in February, the Birmingham, Ala, company took the deal off the table. Soon after, AMICAS swept in and entered a definitive agreement to acquire the company’s shares for approximately $39 million. Paul Merrild, AMICAS vice president, marketing, recently spoke with IE about the course of events that led up to the merger and why his company is excited to welcome Emageon into the AMICAS family.

Paul Merrild

IE: How closely was AMICAS watching the events associated with the “strategic alternatives committee” at Emageon over the course of the last year?

Merrild: Members of the AMICAS and Emageon teams have had various conversations at different levels of the organizations regarding the fit between the companies and about opportunities for a more meaningful relationship for the last several years. We believe that our respective customer bases, solutions, and perspectives on the market are highly complementary. When Emageon started looking for potential suitors via its strategic alternatives committee, we were very interested in being a part of that process to see if we could bring the businesses together. We’re obviously very excited about our joint opportunities.

IE: Describe the process leading up to AMICAS signing a definitive agreement to acquire Emageon.

Merrild: The strategic alternatives committee at Emageon appears to have run a very structured, professional process over many months. This process enabled a number of financial and strategic buyers to take a closer look at Emageon to determine if there was a good fit. AMICAS participated in that process, and we’ve been very engaged for quite a while. Clearly, we’re very excited about the outcome of that process—and we think it means great things for our joint customers, employees, and the market for image and information management.

IE: Why was the Emageon purchase a good strategic fit for AMICAS?

Merrild: Emageon is an organization with a mission and goals very similar to those of AMICAS—to be the leading, independent provider of image and information management systems to health care providers. While AMICAS and Emageon have pursued this mission with different strategies, we believe those strategies and the businesses are highly complementary. Bringing the two businesses together will create an undisputed independent leader in image and information management, with over 1,000 customers and several thousand sites and an impressively broad product suite.

Strategically, we see an excellent fit in terms of market coverage, product/solution coverage, and the scale of AMICAS’ business. In terms of market coverage, our combined business will have customers ranging from very large, prestigious IDNs to progressive radiology practices to teleradiology businesses. From a solution point of view, we’ll have a comprehensive portfolio of image and information management solutions for both radiology and cardiology.

We believe that all AMICAS customers will benefit from a business that has greater scale and operational leverage—this means expanded capabilities and experience for product development, professional services, and customer support with a single unified administrative infrastructure.

This is all about creating for the world a strong and very healthy independent company that’s completely focused on delivering high-quality, innovative, high-impact, high return on investment (ROI) solutions for image and information management in health care. These solutions help our customer partners grow and operate most efficiently, while also providing the infrastructure required for the imaging portion of the electronic medical record (EMR).

IE: How will Emageon integrate with AMICAS?

Merrild: We‘ll move quickly to bring Emageon and AMICAS together. There won’t be an “Emageon” division of AMICAS. There will be ONE AMICAS: one team, one plan, one mission. The combined businesses will bring together the best employees, customers, and solutions in image and information management—including radiology PACS, radiology information systems, cardiology PACS, cardiovascular information systems, referring physician tools, business intelligence tools, enterprise content management systems (really, the imaging component of the EMR), and revenue cycle management systems.

IE: What solutions do you see in the future coming out of AMICAS and Emageon as a combined organization?

Merrild: We believe that our existing portfolio of image and information management solutions for both radiology and cardiology provides an excellent foundation for where the market is going and the future of our business. AMICAS will continue to invest in innovative research and development initiatives as well as in a number of initiatives in the area of customer services, customer support, and account management. Our investments in research and development will be focused on addressing needs in critical areas such as teleradiology, enterprise content management or imaging EMR, legacy system replacement opportunities, and technology-enabled services for the image and information management industry.

This is all about creating for the world a strong and very healthy independent company that’s completely focused on delivering high-quality, innovative, high-impact, high-return ROI solutions for image and information management in health care. These solutions help our customer partners grow and operate most efficiently, while also providing the infrastructure required for the imaging portion of the EMR.

—E. Sanchez

Siemens Shares the Knowledge at HIMSS

At the HIMSS meeting in Chicago, Siemens Healthcare demonstrated a number of workflow enhancements, as well as role-based portals, innovative applications, and intelligent information systems for radiology and cardiology.

Arthur Kaindl, CEO, Image and Knowledge Management, Siemens, explained that it was critical for the company “to remain at the forefront of the technological revolution.”

“As image data volumes increase exponentially, we will continue to develop innovative solutions to manage these challenges,” Kaindl said. “Our solutions are designed to streamline the workflow process, help our customers improve quality of care, increase efficiency, and reduce costs. A crucial solution, role-based portals, delivers pertinent information in a task-oriented interface to the various types of users, where and when they need it most.”

As the access points to radiological information and context-sensitive tools, role-based portals bring information to one place. Enhancements to syngo Portal Radiologist provide radiologists with focused access to important patient information, such as new and previous imaging studies, previous reports, lab values, allergies, and scanned documents in one application window. Task-specific tools that are available with just one click save time and reduce errors, according to Siemens.

The new version V351 of syngo Imaging features improvements in scalability and configurability. It comes with enhanced support functionality for the transition from Siemens Magic technology to the new syngo Imaging PACS, Prior Handling/Multi-Patient Handling, as well as support of syngo MammoReport and syngo Expert-I. Furthermore, the latest release offers a combination of separate innovative computer-aided detection (CAD) and advanced imaging solutions at the PACS viewing workstation.

Additionally, Siemens showcased the most recent version of syngo Workflow SLR, Version 30B2. Designed to offer radiologists efficient access to radiological information and tools, syngo Portal Radiologist now supports an additional workflow step: “medical check of requests.” This function assists the radiologist in efficiently planning and validating exam orders. Features such as “peer review” and improved “notes viewer” improve interaction and communication between users, while the embedded dictation tool, syngo Voice, now includes context-sensitive shortcuts. Through syngo Chorus MR, the updated syngo Workflow SLR allows bidirectional communication to the modality. Protocols generated at the modality or at syngo Portal Radiologist are stored centrally. As a result, they are available for follow-up exams, as well as for exams of other patients.

Lastly, Siemens announced the further development of syngo Dynamics, its Cardio PACS solution, to help improve efficiency of clinical procedures in cardiovascular imaging, vascular ultrasound, general imaging, and OB/GYN. The upcoming new version 8.01 will include features to enhance the cardiology department workflow, including a tool designed for administrative reporting of key performance indicators like resource utilization and physician productivity.

—E. Sanchez