Jim Morgan, Vice President of Medical Informatics, Fujifilm
For major PACS and RIS vendors, satisfying every user at every facility presents a unique set of challenges. Not only do you have to create a product that will satisfy the multiple needs, regulations, and functionalities of the medical imaging industry, but on a user-by-user basis, any sort of customization requires significant amounts of programming. In the past, vendors often offered a site-wide configuration for the PACS and RIS systems, but FUJIFILM Medical Systems USA Inc, after hearing feedback from their customers, decided to offer that kind of customization in the latest upgrades to its Synapse PACS and RIS products.
“Like a lot of vendors, we do take enhancement requests from our customers,” said Jim Morgan, vice president of medical informatics for Fujifilm. “We also put together a customer advisory group once a year in which we get key customers—or just those that have input across our spectrum, which could be an imaging center to a radiology group to a hospital; everyone from an admin/CIO to radiologist—and they provide focused feedback on not only the product that we have today but what is our direction and what are we incorporating into our direction.
“Everyone is used to going out on the Internet and tweaking their home page to be the way they like it. The systems need to be more configurable for the user so that if they’re left-handed or right-handed, or mouse-driven or keyboard-driven, or more visual than textual, you want to give them those choices.”
Updates to the Synapse PACS 4.0 and version 6.1 of Synapse® RIS and Synapse® TeleRIS offer users this customization, in addition to a number of internal upgrades to the operating system.
Key features of the Synapse PACS 4.0 include image processing for all of Fuji-film’s Digital Radiography (DR) and Full Field Digital Mammography (FFDM) systems; advanced integration utilizing DatCard’s collaborative image access, intelligent archival management, and standards-based interoperability across all imaging environments; native 64-bit OS support, active overlays, resident reading, spine labeling, and a user dashboard; use of Oracle Database version 11g Enterprise Edition; and support for VMware’s Version 5.0 virtualization products.
“The big thing that we did with Synapse 4.0 is the whole product is native 64-bit, at both the workstation and server level,” Morgan said. “We enhanced the architecture component, meaning not only the 64-bit upgrade but we also upgraded the database from Oracle 10g Standard Edition to the 11g Enterprise Edition. That’s only important for the IT side of the house. All of our customers will get upgraded to the Enterprise Edition, and then it’s the standard offering for all future customers. It just gives you a higher enterprise class of database infrastructure.”
Fuji’s Synapse RIS also received multiple enhancements in its version 6.1 upgrade. Some of those improvements include Synapse Financials for RIS, a practice management solution that incorporates billing and management tools to improve cash flow and increase insurance reimbursements; critical functionality for practices to be able to implement and attest to Meaningful Use and obtain EHR incentive payments; graphical dashboards, which provide clinical information such as patient wait times and patient volume; and dose management, which provides recommended exposures (customized by the end user) with equipment-specific weighting, patient level dose estimates, and maximum recommended exposure.
Ultimately, many of the upgrades—aside from the obvious clinical benefits that they offer facilities—have been implemented to ease the utilization of the RIS and PACS solutions for the end user. Even the installation of the new upgrades—a remote update of the RIS product and a short on-site update for the PACS product during a facility’s scheduled downtime—makes life easier on radiology groups and hospitals alike.
“Facilities are being stressed from regulation, patient needs, the desire to drive cost down, and they’re looking for vendors and products that just work,” Morgan said. “It should just be easier for them to manage and perform tasks. For those vendors that are able to do that, it’s a very robust market, but clearly the expectations of customers are increasing and thus the vendors are having to increase the levels of service and development.”