Viewing PACS in a whole new light

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 - Jim Morgan
Jim Morgan, Vice President, Medical Informatics, FUJIFILM Medical Systems, USA

When we unveiled the next-generation upgrades to Fujifilm’s broad, integrated Synapse portfolio at RSNA last fall, our newest enterprise imaging technology Synapse 5 was the hit of the show. This wasn’t surprising. After all, PACS represents the cornerstone of the comprehensive Synapse line of solutions—a product family that also includes innovative VNA, 3D, RIS, cardiovascular and mobile offerings.

Our latest Synapse PACS has beefed-up archival and worklist/workflow-engine capabilities—from unique sharing features to EHR interoperability tools to workflow-optimizing options that take integration beyond the enterprise, into the cloud and, from there, wherever collaboration is happening—or should be happening.

We should note the special interest at RSNA many people showed in our completely re-thought PACS viewing platform.

The heightened attentiveness makes sense if you consider the changes the PACS market has seen over the past couple of years and how critical the viewer is to the overall PACS user experience.

Consider the most formidable challenges facing radiology users:  

  • The need for speed has gotten more acute. As reimbursement continues to move from volume-driven to value-based, radiologists need to boost their efficiency, their productivity and—not least—their accuracy. The challenge is to be a speed reader who, despite the high velocity, doesn’t miss a single abnormality on a single study.
  • Datasets have continued to grow. Traditionally, when you talked about large imaging datasets, you were talking about CT. Today, with PET and MR and 3D reconstructions, all producing massive image files, the drive is on to manage large imaging datasets as a normal, everyday—and multimodality—task.
  • Viewer portability has become ingrained in the culture. Mobile devices are only part of the equation. The deeper need is for more choice on where and when users wish to view diagnostic studies. After all, PACS workstations—not to mention desktop PCs and Macs—haven’t been replaced. They’ve just welcomed plenty of company (or competition, depending on your point of view).

In a nutshell, the need today is for a diagnostic-level PACS workstation that extends through the PACS to any desktop that a PACS might touch. That’s why the Fujifilm team came up with the Synapse 5 PACS viewer. It’s designed to help users keep up with the changes that have already taken place and, more importantly, to help them stay out ahead of what comes next.

Brilliantly simple

William Lacy, Division Vice President, Informatics Marketing and Enterprise Sales, FUJIFILM Medical Systems U.S.A., Inc.

Going into the Synapse 5 PACS design phase, our team knew the only way to achieve sub-second image access while also virtually caching large datasets and enabling reads from wherever, whenever—including with 3D—was to approach server-rendering technology in a whole new way. That’s why we came up with not just a new viewer but a next-generation viewing application, one combining architecture changes as well as technology advancements.

With the new Synapse 5 technology, there’s no client at the desktop, and the image rendering occurs on the server. This allows the technology to be far less dependent on the viewer side, and it allows users to simply log in and choose their interface as well as their screen—Explorer or Firefox or Chrome, desktop or smartphone or tablet—or work with any combination of preferences.

The study doesn’t have to move and cache to the desktop. The user can be anywhere. The datasets can be any size. The experience is entirely browser-agnostic. And there’s no falloff in performance and display speed.

This represents a sweeping change from so many legacy PACS designs, which are resource-intensive and, for example, often can only be upgraded by IT staff touching hundreds or even thousands of desktops.

One of our favorite aspects of Synapse 5 PACS is its brilliant simplicity. Like most cutting-edge websites and more than a few apps, it uses HTML5 and was largely inspired by what you’ve seen in the world of e-commerce. It’s got a user-friendly, intuitive GUI, with high performance, limitless scale and strong security.

In fact, if you consider it from the perspective of existing PACS at most provider sites, you wouldn’t be exaggerating if you called Synapse 5 PACS a disruptive technology. Because of the way we are managing the imaging from the server side to the display—on demand and as needed, versus moving studies and caching them—we are actually seeing