Courtesy of http://maclir.dyndns.org/
A rather unusual event took place at the SCBT/MR (the Society of Computed Body Tomography and Magnetic Resonance if you didn't know) meeting last month. Six PACS vendors, Agfa, Amicas, Fuji, GE, McKesson, and Philips were pitted against each other in the first-ever PACS showdown. This is really a mighty feat in and of itself; getting six PACS stations and associated servers to all work at the same time is quite a miracle. I wonder who paid the electric bill.
Several vendors had engineering/apps types running their demonstrations, which consisted of performing a set of typical PACS tasks whilst under the gun. Amicas sent a physician who was very well acquainted with their product, and probably the best choice to show the world how their system works for its intended end users.
According the the Diagnostic Imaging article, there was no clear winner to this little exercise. Sadly, while some vendors (Amicas rep Barry Gutwillig was quoted in particular) wanted the results released, ". . . The vendors with more sensitive concerns. . .won this debate. To ensure a healthy participation at the next showdown, the SCBT/MR will not publish how the audience ranked each vendor." (Italics and implied disgust are mine.)
DI interviewed some of the attendees, and received various responses. Here's one from Dr. Dennis Foley, chief of Digital Imaging at MCW: "Dr. Foley. . . said that Philips, McKesson, and Fuji performed reasonably well in handling large data sets and doing relatively routine daily work. None of these companies, however, had well-integrated 3D solutions in their packages, he said. His nod went to GE for its hanging protocols, exam comparison, access to prior reports, and recovery from interruption." Ahem. It's clear that Dr. Foley hasn't used Centricity in the real world.
I am very disturbed about the "coverup" of the results of the showdown. Let's run an Olympic race and only report the results if the US wins. Obviously, one of the biG vEndors had a problem with how things turned out. Perhaps the small fry were more confident, or at least felt they had nothing to lose. Barry said it best:
“The society asked us if we wanted the results released, and we said yes,” said Barry Gutwillig, executive director of marketing and business development for Amicas. “We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t feel we could rank. I think it’s a testament to the vendors who are here and maybe more so to the ones who are not.”
With all this in mind, here is my advice for prospective PACS buyers: Do your OWN showdown. Either get a bunch of vendors to set up demos at your place all at once (or fairly close in time to each other so the details remain fresh), or get access to a web-based demo that will let you pound on their system at your leisure. I really favor the latter, as you can get a much better idea of how things work in your own hands. Vendors? Can you make this happen?
PACS interface preference is a very subjective thing. I like this approach, you like that approach. In this game, the second-place winner is in no immediate danger of extinction. Perhaps future showdowns can work from some additional metrics, such as: Does the damn thing work? Does it get in my way? Is the interface clean and usable? On second thought, those metrics are pretty hard to, um, meter, aren't they?
I received this comment, which is worthy of being moved into the post itself:
As one of the "big vendors" who was present at the show, we were also actually extremely irritated that the results were not disclosed, wherever we placed. This change in policy occured after we went on site. We may not participate again if that is going to be the way the showdown is run as it seems kind of pointless.We also thought the demonstration script was watered down from the original proposal and would have liked to have seen some of the original more challenging scenarios tackled.BTW: You have a minor inaccuracy in your article. You wrote that "Several vendors had engineering/apps types running their demonstrations". Actually, all of the vendors had a customer radiologist running their workstation. Some just seemed geekier than others.
I'm thinking this is from HBO/McKesson, by the way...
Now I wonder which vendor limited the tasks and then Got Excited about the results and as near as I can tell had them quashed? GEe, who could it have been?
OK, enough innuendo. If the folks at Centricity Central want to comment, I will publish their words here verbatim, just as I have for the Anonymous other Big Vendor. Well?