I've been fortunate enough to make some good friends in the PACS business over the past few years. One of them is a great guy by the name of Brad Levin, whom I met while he was working for Amicas. Brad later joined Dynamic Imaging, and now, of course, works for GE.
Brad read over my previous post about the upgrade path for Centricity, and was kind enough to pen the official GE response, which follows unedited below:
I hope everything is well. On behalf of my colleagues at GE Healthcare IITS, I wanted to follow up on your comments from, "Follow the Yellow Brick Road ", posted on April 18, 2008. Per your inquiries, we wanted to provide additional detail and also clarify a few items referenced.
1. Centricity PACS version 3.X - As mentioned, our upgrade program for Centricity PACS 1.X/2.X has been offered for nearly three years, and (other than users running the latest Solaris hardware (V480)), requires a Solaris to Linux upgrade due to hardware end-of-life from Sun Microsystems.
2. To be clear, the advanced visualization solution you are referring to is marketed as “AW Suite” and is now available via software integration to Centricity PACS 3.X. Presently, the AW Suite embedded integration includes the following applications: CardIQ, AutoBone , CT Colon , Advanced Vessel Analysis, and Advanced Lung Analysis.
3. Since the acquisition of IDX by GE Healthcare, the ImageCast (IC) radiology information system has been marketed as Centricity RIS-IC. Presently, RIS-IC is ranked the #1 RIS by KLAS (Radiology (large) category, 2007 End of Year Report, 12/07, http://www.klasresearch.com/). As an integrated solution for RIS/PACS, this is marketed as Centricity Radiology. As a point of clarification, the Centricity PACS worklist is not changing to the interpretation worklist used by RIS-IC; however, customers using Centricity Radiology may choose to implement a RIS-driven workflow. Only in that case would the RIS-IC worklist be used. One last note about RIS-IC, the upgrades to Centricity PACS 3.X have no relation whatsoever to RIS-IC. Accordingly, Centricity upgrades do not include RIS-IC, and therefore, your comment about RIS-IC being “….included with the purchase of Centricity 3.0 Linux server…” is not accurate.
4. Regarding the new Centricity PACS-IW, similar to our naming structure for RIS-IC, the “IW” stands for “IntegradWeb”, based upon the recently acquired IntegradWeb PACS from Dynamic Imaging. Centricity PACS-IW is presently the #1 ranked PACS by both KLAS (PACS-Acute Care (large) Report, 4/08, http://www.klasresearch.com/) and MD Buyline, for the past two years in a row in the MD Buyline Intelligence Report for PACS, http://www.mdbuyline.com/.
Also, just to clarify a few items related to your upgrade discussion:
1. Your first upgrade alternative is a status quo decision to remain on the Solaris platform of Centricity 1.X/2.X. As you are aware, all hardware has a similar cycle – in just a few years, hardware that was once state-of-the-art eventually turns end-of-life. The decision by Sun to move their server hardware to end-of-life was made independent of GE Healthcare; however, it does have a significant impact on Centricity customers, and the solution is to upgrade to Centricity PACS 3.X. By moving from Solaris (a proprietary platform) to Linux, GE is moving to a more mainstream technology that in the long term provides Centricity customers more performance, choice and flexibility.
2. The second upgrade alternative you mention concerns an upgrade to Centricity PACS-IW. Any upgrade to Centricity PACS-IW would include a traditional PACS migration of images and results. While migration is rather commonplace in the replacement PACS market today, you are accurate that many of the unique data elements (e.g., annotations, key images) from Centricity PACS would not be able to be migrated to Centricity PACS-IW. This consequence of migration is the same when migrating from just about any PACS to Centricity PACS-IW, as well as the consequence of migrating Centricity PACS to any other PACS sold today. Considering this limitation, we do not recommend this as an option. Whether in the future GE will be able to export all the unique data elements is unclear at this time, thus, we are taking the most conservative approach by not committing to it and not recommending it. The only way to ensure the protection of these data elements is to upgrade through the Centricity PACS (not PACS-IW) product family.
3. The third upgrade alternative you discuss protects your investment in Centricity PACS by upgrading from Solaris to Linux, upgrades you to the latest Centricity 3.X platform complete with the new features you explained to your online audience (nice, thorough list, thank you), while also leveraging the diagnostic capabilities of the IW viewer anywhere over the Web. Currently there is a worldwide engineering initiative leveraging the strength of the IW diagnostic viewer and Centricity PACS 3.0 [Note: Prior versions of Centricity will not be able to take advantage of this new product]. This new product, Centricity Web DX Viewer, which we announced at the SIIM 2008 conference just last week, is a work-in-progress (WIP). This diagnostic capability will enable diagnostic interpretation anywhere over the Web, powered by the IW viewer. The Centricity Web DX Viewer will directly connect to the Centricity PACS 3.0 database and enable radiologists to perform complex image manipulations to include 3D (MIP/MPR) along with all of the other features of the IW viewer, change study status directly in the Centricity PACS 3.0 database, while also being assured the appropriate study locking mechanisms are in place. As this effort was scoped earlier this year, our Centricity PACS beta partners have already been identified and engaged. Keep in mind that Centricity Web DX Viewer is not meant to replace any of our existing client technology, as we are continuing to invest and support those programs. The Centricity Web DX Viewer is an additional capability that our Centricity customers can soon choose to add to their Centricity PACS environment, without compromising the investments they've made to their Centricity PACS infrastructure.
4. In terms of next generation development, we have indeed brought together our research and development teams from Centricity PACS and Centricity PACS-IW, leveraging the best innovations from each team into a single next generation effort. The current iteration of the next generation solution was demonstrated at the GE SIIM Customer Event last Thursday evening and was extremely well received.
In closing, GE Healthcare looks forward to helping you and your colleagues leverage your investment in Centricity PACS for not only today, but for the future. We pledge to all of our customers that we will continue to ensure an upgrade path for Centricity PACS, as well as integrate and make available the best available technology in the GE Healthcare product portfolio. And lastly, GE Healthcare will continue to develop innovative technology, as well as canvass the marketplace for potential acquisitions of technology that both deepen and enrich today’s product mix for the benefit of our customers.
I hope this has been helpful, but it is only intended to provide a brief overview. I encourage you and your online audience to contact their GE Sales Executive to learn more since every customer has different needs and requirements. We will also be discussing more about the Centricity Web DX Viewer over the coming weeks and months, to include presentations at the GE Healthcare User Summit, August 18-21, 2008, in Washington , DC .
If you or your audience has any questions about the above, please have them contact me at brad.levin(AT)ge.com and I will see that their questions are answered.
VP, Marketing, Dynamic Imaging Solutions
GE Healthcare IITS