Friday, September 30, 2011

Merge RE-Focuses with Fovia
. . . And Drops A Name

Over two years ago, AMICAS announced collaboration with Fovia Medical, Inc. Read my post about it HERE.

On September 27, 2011, Fovia sent out this announcement:
Fovia Medical, Inc., a world leader in volume rendering technology, and Merge Healthcare, a leading provider of enterprise imaging and interoperability solutions, announced today that Merge will enhance and standardize its product offering by incorporating Fovia’s High Definition Volume Rendering® technology across its entire radiology PACS platform.

Merge, which provides image management as part of its comprehensive suite of radiology solutions, will now be able to fully capitalize on Fovia’s advanced visualization tools, therefore providing the world’s highest quality medical imaging to all of its PACS customers.

Fovia’s HDVR® server-side platform has enabled Merge to deliver high performance 3D imaging through its web-based architecture. With HDVR seamlessly integrated into Merge PACS, the company has taken advantage of Fovia’s scalable, CPU-based solution using entirely off-the-shelf hardware. By standardizing its various PACS products on an HDVR platform, Merge will be able to deliver tightly integrated, advanced visualization to its entire customer base, while simultaneously meeting their changing demands with Fovia’s flexible and highly customizable thin-client solution.

“Fovia’s powerful HDVR software provides Merge with the ability to offer unparalleled quality and performance to all of our PACS customers – both locally and over the Internet,” said Paul Merrild, Senior Vice President – Solutions Management. “Combining Fovia’s embedded software with our PACS products and services will boost radiology productivity by providing a unified workflow and consistent user experience, including the ability to view extremely large data sets interactively and in real-time.”

Ken Fineman, Chief Executive Officer of Fovia, stated, “We have built a strong relationship with Merge over the past year and are very impressed with their focus on customer satisfaction and end-to-end radiology solutions. Merge’s extensive, remote unified solution will provide a game-changing, streamlined experience for radiologists, and we are thrilled that our natively integrated HDVR will be showcased in such a robust offering.”
Which all sounds pretty similar to the 2009 announcement. (FYI, here is the 2009 press release from Fovia.) I'm assuming that the 3D engine on my current AMICAS PACS is made by Fovia, which makes me wonder about the purpose of these announcements. I do have it on good authority that the HDVR platform is executed in software on the production server, and does NOT require an additional rendering server.

You'll notice something rather sad in the current announcement; in fact, it heralds the end of an era. Nowhere is the word "AMICAS" mentioned; the system is now called Merge PACS.  Oh, well.  It had to happen, I guess.

With the name change come some improvements, a few of which I think are in response to my whining, I mean request for change.  Merge announced some of the improvements here:

New Release: Merge PACS v6.2 From improved launching time to Instant Messenger, Merge PACS just keeps getting better! Below are some of the highlights of the new 6.2 release that will help you improve efficiency:
  • Halo will be operational as a native 64-bit viewer
  • Improved launching time for Halo
  • Bidirectional XML support which will improve third party integrations
  • PowerScribe 360 dictation integration
  • Instant Messenger for communication between Halo 6.3 workstations
  • Improved Mammography location algorithm to ensure accurate location of the breast tissue line
Embedded viewer rapid launch is intended for use with an EMR for rounding. Viewer will stay alive in the background enabling rapid restart.TSM migration tool will be used for moving studies form old jukeboxes and other storage devices to new archive subsystems, notably including ECM.

Did You Know? HALO
Q: How do I turn off the Patient Record option in HALO?
A: Go to User and Groups Privileges in the Management Pages section. Select the check box location about a third of the way down on the Group Privileges section. This will turn off Patient Record for all of your radiologists. If any of the radiologists want to keep Patient Record, you will need to enable it at a User level instead of Group level.
The latter bit about turning off the Patient Record has made a huge difference for my group of cranky rads.  The "Patient Record" is a sort of iSite-like extension to the Real Time Worklist (RTWL), which gives more direct access to prior exams.  It was added more or less to satisfy a few users of both AMICAS and Stentor/iSite, and frankly, it bolluxed up the whole RTWL, which to me is what made AMICAS, well, AMICAS.  I was quite thrilled to find the way to get rid of it, and so were my colleagues.

The release notes for v6.2 mention a number of other new and improved features, including Merge Messenger, an IM subroutine to allow communication between online users, 64-bit support, a new Exit button, and some other needed tweaks. The "voice clip" button will be moved to a more convenient location on the main tool-bar, something we had requested a while back to speed us along.  If you are an AMICAS, I mean Merge PACS user, you will realize how this might help: in the current version, the voice clip button is tied to the study-level toolbar, and might be on the left OR the right screen, a bit confusing for something we use on many studies. It will now be placed (if desired, I think) on the main patient toolbar in a fixed location.

And coming in version 6.3 (or maybe later...check in at RSNA)--a PET/CT viewer! Too bad my AMICAS, I mean Merge PACS hospital doesn't have a PET/CT.

Ah, progress. I will miss the AMICAS name, however. Please feel free to send in photos (or the actual item) of anything you might have with the AMICAS amoeba might be valuable someday.


Geoff said...

I miss the old name too, but I am looking forward to the PET/CT fusion and the new functionality we'll open up with Fovia.
(I work for AMI... er, Merge)

Anonymous said...

Alas, too little, too late for us. I suspect we will be moving to a different vendor soon. PET/CT has been promised for a long time, and support continues to be wanting.

Anonymous said...

Dalai> "I do have it on good authority that the HDVR platform is executed in software on the production server, and does NOT require an additional rendering server."

HDVR(R) support> It is correct; Fovia's client-server API allows to have an identical code/source base for the local or/and remote development. Locally it runs in the same client-server loop/logic as it runs remotely - locally server runs on the same computer where client runs, the logic inside is identical for local and/or for remote implementations.

>PET/CT fusion...

HDVR(R) support> Regarding Fusion: in addition to 2D fusion of multiple modalities we have had for several years, we recently added the 3D-fusion for support of x2 modalities at ray-casting stage in its classic non compromised sense - the Transfer Function is represented by x4 surfaces: Red-surface, Green-surface, Blue-surface, Opacity-surface (in case of single modality RGBO are represented by x4 1D-curves). There is no performance/quality penalty for 3D fusion mode as well as lighting mode still may be controlled upon TF.