Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Belated RSNA PACS Post IV: A LarGE Surprise...

The Merge booth bordered on the edge of GE-Town, which I believe was somewhat smaller this year as compared to RSNAs of the past. In fact, there was a LOT of unused territory on the exhibit floor, cordoned off with the standard blue curtains. I would guess there was at least 1/8 of the floor unused, which is unusual, but probably indicative of bad times to come.

Anyway, my friends at Merge told me that there was a big to-do at the GE booth before I got there, that Mr. Immelt himself had been present, that something Really BIG must be happening. Given the presence of Herr Gro├čen Kopf over at Siemens, I figured I'd missed Immelt, but I decided to wander over to GE-land anyway.

Turning my badge around so my name wouldn't show (yes, badges this year were printed on both sides, but I stuck my class tickets in the holder, covering the demographics on the back), I marched right in to the PACS area, noting nearby the big display about GE's new quiet MRI. Having been in a GE MRI (we own two), I can vouch for the need to silence them a bit, and apparently GE has made great strides in this regard. There was also an announcement for a hybrid PET/CT/MRI, which is really just a PET/CT and MRI image merger. Cheaper than bolting all three gantries together I suppose, although not as interesting.

To me, the biG Excitement came in the PACS booth. Here, we find the new GE Universal PACS viewer, and this represents a HUGE departure from the status quo. I didn't have time for a proper demo, but with a few minutes exposure, I was quite impressed. Suffice it to say, GE FINALLY gets it, or at least some of it, and offeres a unified, web-based PACS viewer that integrates the AW platform's visualization ans well as automation. Did I mention that it is web-based? And that it isn't Centricity IW, the late, great product from the late, great Dynamic Imaging?

In my brief demo, the following features were emphasized:

  1. This is a web-based ActiveX client.
  2. There is a zero-footprint version for clinicians, and mobile access, with considerable functionality
  3. Native MIP and MPR
  4. Timeline display
  5. Relevant Priors based on body-part
  6. Auto-open cine's 
  7. Multimodality fusion (which I think they said was drag-and-drop)
  8. Smart Reading protocols, which learn your preferences as you go.
GE literature adds:
  1. Intelligent productivity tools, including smart hanging protocols; 
  2. Advanced Visualization applications, including oncology; powered by AW
  3. Breast Imaging Workflow, including screening and diagnostic capabilities; 
  4. A common, streamlined, ergonomic user interface; and 
  5. Access anywhere the Internet is available — web based, zero footprint and web client access.
To flesh out my report, I'll direct you to the pertinent GE site. Here's an introductory video from that link:

Also, here's the full text (sorry) from GEs press release:
CHICAGO – NOVEMBER 26, 12 – With this week’s introduction of Universal Viewer, GE Healthcare aims to put clinical insight within reach to help radiologists and referring physicians deliver patient results efficiently. Universal Viewer brings together advanced visualization, intelligent productivity tools, and multimodality workflow for oncology and breast imaging all within one intuitive workspace that can be accessed anywhere, anytime. It works with Centricity* PACS, Centricity PACS-IW, and Centricity Clinical Archive.

A recent GE-sponsored study conducted by ACR Image Metrix, a subsidiary of the American College of Radiology, showed up to 2.5 hours in a radiologist’s day wasted because of workflow inefficiency. As healthcare rapidly evolves to a more patient-centric, collaborative, and outcomes-focused model, customers need to integrate information across different systems to help make patient diagnosis and treatment more efficient. Rather than creating complexity with multiple logins, tools that behave differently, and separate workstations, Universal Viewer has the potential to provide 5% productivity improvement. It has a unified user interface with a single look and feel that is easy to learn and able to adapt to radiologists’ preferences, automating exam setup. Referring physicians can access the viewer from anywhere and patients can get from the exam to their results in less time.

Centricity PACS and Centricity PACS-IW users will find a new dimension of clinical intelligence as they explore Universal Viewer. It enables seamless workflow with pre- and post-processing. Advanced clinical applications, powered by AW, are embedded to enable oncology quantification, auto bone removal, vessel analysis, and registration. In an industry “first,” Universal Viewer also includes integrated mammography tools for screening and diagnostics, with the ability to display images across a breadth of modalities, support CAD markers and IHE profiles, and connect with reporting systems.

“This is really fantastic,’” said Dr. James Whitfill, Chief Medical Informatics Officer of Southwest Diagnostic Imaging in Scottsdale, Ariz. “When we bring all of this together and provide what I think we’re all asking for, it’s really going to be an exciting step forward.”

For radiologists who want a next generation viewer that requires less manual setup to read exams, Universal Viewer has the potential to reduce mouse clicks by 70%[1]. It has a “smart reading protocols” feature developed in GE’s Global Research Center that essentially digitizes radiologists’ sequencing preferences on the fly as though it were hanging physical film across a lightbox. It introduces case-based reasoning techniques, including machine learning algorithms, image analytics, and text mining for automating exam setup.

“Adopting new applications means change for providers, but minimizing change by keeping workflows consistent can help to reduce the impact and lost productivity associated with the change. Machine learning features are a great way to digitize workflows without long, costly implementation projects and extensive application customization,” said Judy Hanover of IDC, a leading analyst firm, “Radiologists will appreciate being able to work in a digital environment without having to abandon their familiar customs.”

A zero footprint (ZFP) exam viewer intended to deliver non-diagnostic, review only capabilities provides clinicians with easy, enterprise-wide access to images and reports through connectivity with an EMR or GE Healthcare’s Centricity Clinical Archive. The ZFP has the added advantages of a zero installation with no download of any software to the user’s device. It also does not require administrative rights required to access.

Jan De Witte, President and Chief Executive Officer of GE Healthcare IT and Performance Solutions said, “This is an enormous step on a path to our future, a future of intensifying imaging investment and innovation. Customers have told us that systems have become too complex and interoperability needs improvement. This takes away time they could be reading exams and delivering patient results. We invite radiologists everywhere to join us and view our proposed solution, Universal Viewer. We invite them to tell us what they think and, most of all, to stand by to see the future of imaging IT delivered to their desktops.”
To emphasize..."Customers have told us that systems have become too complex and interoperability needs improvement." GEeee...WHAT HAVE I BEEN SAYING FOR THE PAST SEVEN YEARS ON THIS BLOG????? It's nice that GE finally chose to listen to their customers, at least those who actually use their product, and not those who told them Centricity web was something to be proud of.

To be fair, Siemens' plaza.via takes a similar approach, but for better or worse it uses the syngo platform. AMICAS/Merge and others have been doing this sort of thing for quite a while, too. It's just phenomenal that GE has finally taken this route.

I need more hands-on time with Universal to give you much more feedback. Hopefully, GE will see fit to upgrade our horrendous Centricity 3.x installation with the new software. Please? Pretty Please? Well, I can dream, can't I?


stacey said...

So GE finally caught up to what Emageon had in 2004.

Know Your Images said...

Can't wait to see the GE web-based PACS viewer!