Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Belated RSNA 2012 PACS Post II: Merge

Being a happy Merge customer, one of my most important visits on the exhibit floor is to their big orange booth. Sadly, the orange Tesla is no longer on exhibit, although I'm told it is still part of the Merge fleet, and might possibly be available to be taken for a spin by the best Merge customers. I'm not sure I qualify for that, and besides, I wouldn't even think of driving in Chicago in a $100,000 vehicle.

You may remember the pre-RSNA Merge teasers:

And indeed, there was a big orange box in the middle of the booth:

That's me with an unidentified member of Merge who was trying to conduct business on her cellphone but was forced to pose with me by certain photo-shy Merge folks. (You know who you are!!)

What's inside the box is "Clear", literally!  The box itself a dramatization/simulation of Merge-Clear, a new quick and easy ordering system allowing imaging centers to "stay in the loop" and hopefully increase their referrals. The clinician gets online, even using iPhone/iPad, (I think Android is supported as well) or whatever to post the order, and the appropriately registered patient can get online and schedule the exam at the place of his/her choice, (of course those imaging centers registered with have the chance to advertise WiFi or child-care, or free drinks, etc., and the lucky patient can even preregister or fill out paperwork on an iPad.) The ordering doc can then view the report on the iPhone whilst on the golf-course, illustrated by a very nice set of clubs at the far end of the box. Some very interesting metrics and data-mining can be found within Clear, such as ways to see how many patients your center is losing because you don't have child-care, and so on.

Merge has established a partnership with SureScripts to create a portal into most EMR's:
Merge Healthcare Incorporated (NASDAQ: MRGE), a leading provider of clinical systems and innovations that seek to transform healthcare, will connect its extensive imaging network with the Surescripts Network for Clinical Interoperability. This connectivity will allow hospitals and imaging centers to electronically deliver imaging reports to care provider organizations through EHRs on the Surescripts Network. In addition to electronically receiving the report through their EHR, ordering physicians will be able to access and view images securely from the Merge Honeycomb™ cloud-based solution. Sharing results and images is immediately valuable and will become increasingly critical as EHR vendors work to certify their systems and organizations look to attest to Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 2.

"With the majority of physician groups and hospitals now having an EHR in place, these organizations want to receive results electronically to increase efficiency and avoid errors, however connecting to hundreds of certified EHRs is expensive, custom work," said Jeff Surges, CEO of Merge Healthcare. “With Surescripts delivering connectivity solutions that improve the delivery of vital clinical care information between care providers/organizations, and Merge offering premium imaging content, we can help hospitals and imaging centers improve efficiency, reduce costs and most importantly, strengthen care collaboration among referring physicians by delivering radiology reports and image links directly into the physician’s EHR.”
As usual, it's all about who you know, eh? Merge itself knows a lot of folks, claiming to have managed 82 million of the 370 million annual ambulatory imaging procedures in the US. (This does not include ePhlegm, by the way.) That's quite a footprint in the ambulatory space.

In other news, Honeycomb, the cloud image repository, is up to 3.9 million images in its first five months of operation.

iConnect, the access and sharing system with Facebook style interface, is also now iconnected to SureScripts as well, providing image access to the EMR, and it includes server-side rendering, requiring another server, but able to handle default JPEG2000 or DICOM images, even on my beloved Retina displays. (It won't work with a virtual server as we have been assembling for our PACS upgrade.) If more power is required, iConnect can launch the Halo PACS viewer.

There were a few incremental changes to AMICAS Merge PACS 6.5, with more powerful credentialing, determining who can read what, and the creation of a temporary worklist via the search function. Ortho tools were added in 6.4 as were multiple teaching files.

Perhaps the most important comment I can make about Merge is that while it isn't AMICAS, its stewardship of the software has been exemplary, providing good service, and growing the product nicely, even in this age of cutbacks. I anticipate this to continue, sale or no sale (and NO ONE mentioned anything about a sale, by the way...)


Anonymous said...

I'm sure Mike Ferro is choking on your praise of Amicas.

stacey said...

Any word on Radsuite?