· Teleradiology: Better Patient Care and More
· TeraRecon Reigns in 3D Workstations
· Siemens to Distribute Candelis Accessory Solution
· ModalityBroker Connects Five Toronto Hospitals

Teleradiology: Better Patient Care and More

A new survey of radiologists across the United States conducted by NightHawk Radiology Services Inc, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, shows that a majority of radiologists believe teleradiology improves patient care and the lives of the physicians who provide it. Fully 84% of respondents agreed that teleradiology services helped their organizations deliver superior patient care, and 94% agreed that these services helped improve the quality of life of radiologists in their organizations.

“Satisfaction with teleradiology services is driven by two fundamentals—providing excellent care to the patient and enhancing the doctor’s practice and quality of life,” said Paul Berger, MD, founder and CEO of NightHawk.

And as any busy radiologist can attest, quality of life matters. Maybe that’s why clinical interactions with tele

radiology staff and technical support ranked as two of the most important factors driving overall satisfaction with providers of teleradiology services. Additionally, 51% of respondents rated report accuracy/content as the most important determinant of customer satisfaction. Turnaround time also made the list of crucial factors.

The survey also revealed a high level of comfort with images being read by US board-certified physicians in foreign countries—89% of those surveyed reported no concern.

“The survey results reveal which aspects of teleradiology services are most important to radiologists,” Berger said, “enabling us to focus on meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations where it matters most.”

—Cat Vasko

TeraRecon Reigns in 3D Workstations

FC Dallas is the first professional soccer team to use ZONARE Medical Systems’ z.one ultrasound system.

According to a midyear customer survey conducted by KLAS Enterprises, Orem, Utah, the Aquarius Workstation from TeraRecon Inc, San Mateo, Calif, is the top-ranking 3D workstation, with 63% of respondents choosing TeraRecon as their preferred vendor in the Advanced Visualization category. Runners-up include Vital Images Inc, Minnetonka, Minn, with 45% of the vote, and GE Healthcare, Waukesha, Wis, with 23%. TeraRecon received the highest-ranked results in all reported measurements within the category, from performance indicators to business indicators to percentage of positive feedback.

Richard Hallett, MD, section chief in cardiovascular imaging for Northwest Radiology Network and medical director of the radiology department at Riverview Hospital, Indianapolis, typically uses TeraRecon’s Aquarius workstation for CTA applications and vascular imaging. “The thing we find most useful in a workstation is the ability to really quickly segment out bone or surrounding soft tissues or section out an artery,” Hallett said. “If I’m looking at a coronary artery and want to know if there’s plaque there, the plaque composition, is there significant narrowing, is there positive remodeling—all that is very easy on the TeraRecon workstation. It usually just takes a couple of clicks.”

These 3D renderings of fruit are examples made from TeraRecon’s Aquarius Workstation, the top-ranking 3D workstation in a midyear KLAS Enterprises survey.

Cardiologist Robert Pelberg, MD, of Ohio Heart and Vascular, Cincinnati, also cites the elegance of the Aquarius interface as one of its major advantages. “Imagine you had a model of a heart in your hand and wanted to look at it from all angles, then look at the inside,” Pelberg said. “All the workstations will permit that, but they don’t permit it to move in the screen using the mouse as a control in real time. That’s crucial. When arteries are 2 mm or less in size, when you’ve spent all this time finding the right angle and now you just want to tweak it a bit, if you can’t do that precisely the data set will jump. TeraRecon is so powerful it permits that to be done precisely.”

For Hallett, who runs a radiology department, the workstation’s versatility is another important factor. “It’s definitely very full-functioned,” he said. “It does all kinds of radiology—PET/CT fusion, breast MR, 3D modeling for breast MR. For the price, it’s great. And it’s imaging-equipment vendor neutral.”

That’s important, Hallett explained, because of the way vendor-specific devices can wind up nickel-and-diming you for every accessory or new functionality. “We have a PACS at one of our places that’s kind of marginal,” he said. “It tends to choke on large data sets. We use the workstation as a backup for all that data. Instead of saving the 2,500 thin-section images on the PACS and having it bog down, we can archive to a USB hard drive on the workstation. That’s not proprietary. A lot of manufacturers require their $50,000 solution, while I can go to Best Buy and get a 500GB hard drive for $150.”

And Pelberg stresses that it isn’t just the quality of the technology that counts—it’s the company behind it. “Their support staff is fantastic,” he said. “They’ve been extremely supportive of their customers, they’re very responsible, and they’re always looking for ways to improve.”

—C. Vasko

Siemens to Distribute Candelis Accessory Solution

Siemens Medical Solutions, Malvern, Pa, recently announced that it has added the ImageGrid Archive Appliance, manufactured by Candelis Inc, Irvine, Calif, to its Accessory Solutions product portfolio. The fully integrated multimodality storage drive will be offered through Siemens’ global sales and distribution channels.

Siemens recently added the ImageGrid Archive Appliance from Candelis to its accessory solutions product portfolio.

ImageGrid is fully DICOM-compliant and provides health care facilities with a scalable and cost-effective storage solution to accommodate the increasingly large volumes of data and images generated by advancing medical imaging modalities, including CT, molecular imaging, and even mammography and ultrasound.

“The ImageGrid DICOM Storage Server Appliance benefits from our 20-year history in developing innovative data-storage solutions,” said Alex Razmjoo, CEO of Candelis. “The ImageGrid represents a paradigm shift in digital medical imaging archiving and provides customers with a cost-effective, reliable, easy-to-maintain, and feature-rich solution to archive and manage patient data.”

ImageGrid 1500 was released at the 2006 meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), Oak Brook, Ill, and features up to 11.25 terabytes of raw capacity, along with the Sony Advance Intelligence Tape library for comprehensive information lifecycle management.

“The addition of Candelis’ ImageGrid to our product portfolio gives our customers an affordable DICOM storage solution,” said Anders Steiner, vice president of the Special Systems Division at Siemens. “Our agreement with Candelis further exemplifies Siemens’ commitment to providing our customers with complete solutions that encompass vital accessories.”

—C. Vasko

ModalityBroker Connects Five Toronto Hospitals

The Joint Department of Medical Imaging for University Health Network, Mount Sinai Hospital, and Women’s College Hospital of Toronto has a unique challenge: streamline the image flow from five separate hospital radiology departments, working with modalities as basic as x-ray and as specialized as PET-CT. The challenge? Integrating nuclear medicine and traditional medical imaging modalities onto one PACS platform across the entire network.

That’s where Thinking Systems Corp, St Petersburg, Fla, comes in. The Joint Department selected tools from Thinking Systems, including the company’s ModalityBroker system and the NuGateway DICOM gateway, to meet its integration needs. NuGateway brings nuclear medicine data from legacy scanners and workstations to PACS; ModalityBroker integrates specialty modalities to the existing enterprise PACS; and the Joint Department’s final Thinking Systems selection, the MDStation multi-modality PACS workstation, provides clinical solutions for advanced modalities and general radiology image review.

“What makes us unique is our approach to take all modalities into one system,” said Thinking Systems president and co-founder Xiaoyi Wang. “The challenging aspect is that modalities like CT and MR require special clinical tools to make the image meaningful to the physicians. Without the proper tools, images won’t make any sense. Our approach is to combine the modality tools into the PACS environment, so a centralized system gives you access to each type of image with the proper tools, and physicians don’t have to jump from one workstation to another. We’re the only PACS vendor doing that currently.”

If an organization already has an enterprise PACS—which the Joint Department of Medical Imaging does—Thinking Systems is ready with add-on tools to create this type of integrated PACS environment. “ModalityBroker is for the enterprise environment,” Wang explained. “If they already have an enterprise PACS and can’t bring the other modalities in, we’ll make that work. ModalityBroker is an application layer that can sit on top of the third-party PACS.”

Marc Freeman, MD, of University Health Network led the team of radiologists and IT professionals evaluating the various candidate vendors. He noted that a strong motivation for the selection of Thinking Systems was the ModalityBroker function. “In addition to offering seamless integration of various cameras and different modalities, Thinking Systems’ PACS solutions come with a robust set of clinical tools which are also user friendly,” he said. “The Thinking Systems ModalityBroker is unique in the PACS market. We are very excited about the prospect of being able to link all of our imaging sites and various modalities onto one powerful platform, which will ultimately help our radiologists and referring clinicians manipulate images and make better interpretations.”

Implementation was scheduled for mid-October; it takes around a week, including 3 days for installation and an additional 3 days for training.

“We anticipate the installation will greatly enhance the quality of care at UHN, while also adding efficiencies and reducing our costs,” noted Scott Jarett, senior director of the Joint Department.

“With our implementation, physicians will be able to sit down at one system and have the clinical tools for all their modalities in front of them,” Wang said. “While it’s difficult to define return on investment from a dollar value point, by improving efficiency, you help physicians improve workflow, productivity, and patient care.”

—C. Vasko