GE Healthcare unveiled new functionality for its Centricity PACS 4.0 solution at this year’s meeting of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine in Orlando, Fla. Designed in collaboration with the company’s current customers, the enhancements aim to optimize radiologists’ workflow processes with simple, yet effective, adjustments.

Improved features to the system include a Navigator with Snap Tool and Timeline, Single-Click Save, and a Lights-off UI Theme.

Previously, users were forced to navigate through hanging protocols and pull up the necessary images manually one by one, explained Jeanine Banks, vice president and general manager of global marketing for specialty solutions. As a result, much time was spent on obtaining the full view of each image and determining whether the selected image was the one the user actually wanted to see.

“For large data sets, this process could be really cumbersome,” she said. With the updated navigator, customers can drag and drop a series into a monitor region. Users can then scroll through a thumbnail gallery of the images in the series and pin the images to a particular location for easy reference. “It seems really simple at the surface, but it’s those niceties that really streamline the workflow and save radiologists time,” Banks said.

GE’s upgraded Centricity PACS 4.0 now includes a Navigator with Snap Tool and Timeline, Single-Click Save, and a Lights-off UI Theme.

The Single-Click Save replaces the former process of saving in three clicks, utilizing a Quick Save Presentation State to save and apply a presentation state with an auto-generated label and description. “In the context of doing hundreds of exams per day, removing those extra clicks from the workflow really starts to matter,” Banks said. “With single save, you can configure the presentation state you are looking at, put it into save mode, and easily refer back to it and view it that way each time.”

Lastly, it is hoped that the “Lights off” UI Theme decreases eye fatigue and improves reading comfort in darker rooms or in reading rooms with dimmer lighting through high contrast icons. “Those kinds of things just give you modernization and ergonomic benefits that are easily taken for granted when you’re not doing the job that radiologists do day in and day out,” Banks said.

These three features represent a shift from how GE developed Centricity PACS in the past, Banks continued. “We traditionally used waterfall development methodology that involved gathering customer requirements and locking them in up front and going through a lengthy development cycle to test those capabilities,” she said. “By the time you release them, lo and behold, it’s not what the market is looking for, and it’s not what the customer is looking for based on their current needs. Customer priorities might have changed.”

Therefore, GE has adopted agile development—a trend in the health care IT industry as a whole—in order to provide the benefits to its customer base right away. Applying the methodology to development of its RIS IT product, GE worked closely with its customers, met with them at their locations, analyzed their workflows, and ran online WebEx meetings to receive real-time feedback. During site visits and at trade shows, current and prospective customers had opportunities to touch and try the settings and see how they could fit into their workflow. “After seeing the great customer feedback of the latest version 10.7 of RIS IT, we said we really need to adopt the similar methodology and approach to get the great benefits that we see from agile in all the areas of Centricity PACS,” Bank said. “Transitioning to agile methodology really transformed the way we engage our customers.

“We realize that as the industry is changing, core product and work tools are important, but it’s also about collaboration and sharing of information,” Banks continued. “There are all kinds of clinical data inside the radiology department across the different clinical care areas, such as cardiology, pathology, and so on, and even between different locations and participants in patient care. That’s where we’re headed.”

The Centricity Enterprise Archive is a cloud-enabled, vendor neutral archive technology that stores petabytes of data for thousands of GE customers worldwide. Centricity PACS 4.0, slated to release in the early part of the third quarter, is described as delivering an intuitive user experience, streamlined mammography views, and Windows 7 support.