HIMSS Shoppers Seek MU; Vendors' Heads in the Cloud

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imageWhile the throngs of IT shoppers in Orlando had meaningful use on their minds, imaging IT vendors had their heads in the cloud, with talk of moving everything from speech recognition to data storage, image viewers, and advanced visualization tools onto web platforms that can be accessed anywhere, anytime. Some of this talk may have been just that, but the “anytime, anywhere” idea is a compelling one in the world of a distributed radiology that is increasingly mobile, and likely to find traction with buyers once solutions materialize. Other themes addressed on the exhibit floor were meaningful use, mobility, ICD-10, and the increasingly important business analytics that providers will need to demonstrate compliance of all sorts. imageOn the buyer side, HIMSS reports that achieving meaningful use implementation of certified HIT products is the primary objective of half the people surveyed in its Annual Leadership Survey, up from 42% last year. Reaching Stage 1 of meaningful use was named the key organizational business objective by 25% of respondents, and 68% said they plan to make additional investments in order to qualify for incentives. With 42% saying they plan to spend an additional $1 million to meet objectives, more than 81% said they expect to hit the Stage 1 mark by 2011 or 2012. About that cloud: Nuance’s Nick Van Terheyden, MD, reports that Nuance plans a big push to the cloud with its entire suite of software, beginning with speech recognition, by creating an integration development platform. “Historically, you had to install the Dragon software and toolkit and build an application around the technology, “ he says. “Now with the cloud-based development platform, there is a series of APIs that call to our cloud-based solution. You don’t have to have a duplication of authentication, there is a simple set of commands that can be integrated into any platform.” Nuance (and Lockheed-Martin) showed Calgary Scientific’s server-based advanced visualization tools on the mobile platform. Ramsoft’s Greg Smith reveals that last year 75% of the PACS vendor’s sales were based on the ASP model—yesteryear’s cloud. Radius, Nashville, Tennessee, a data center that hosts and services the Ramsoft software, is putting a number of the vendor’s clients into the cloud. Iron Mountain’s Ken Rubin notes that mergers and acquisitions in health care are pushing CIOs to the cloud in search of vendor neutral archives for data storage. “Look at the M & A activity in health care,” he says. “It’s left IT shops with a heterogeneous environment to manage. They have silos of data all over. As a result, the biggest call from customers is that they don’t have the people to manage all of this data.” On meaningful use and radiology: Brit System’s Shelly Fisher announced a new partnership with EHR vendor RelWare, which gives both vendors an ONC-certified EHR to sell with RIS/PACS functionality and pricing flexibility that requires payment for only those modules providers are required to deploy. “I was looking for someone who would only charge for the functionality radiologists would use,” Fisher explains. “There weren’t too many vendors willing to chat.” Fujifilm’s Jim Morgan says the company will focus on working with customers on meeting the MU requirements. “Fujifilm continues to expand... its imaging footprint within the radiology and cardiology space,” he says. “The Fujifilm brand of products allows our customers to contribute to and meet meaningful use criteria.” About business analytics: A theoretical math major in college, Dave Souerwine, president of McKesson Provider Technologies, has been a vocal proponent of increasing the McKesson footprint in analytics, now more than ever. At a breakfast roundtable, he introduced several hospital leaders, saying: “Most [hospital] CEOs think they are going to have to learn to live with Medicare rates and take 3% to 4% out a year—forever.” Later that day, he noted that across business units McKesson is in a unique position of archiving perhaps more data than any other company in health care: “If we get a more centralized source of data, if you could start to draw it together and get access to it, you would have something that would be a huge contributor to health care.” PACS as social network: Mike Valante, Philips, talked about a workflow layer for the iSite PACS solution that enables social networking among an increasingly distributed workforce. “It’s not unlike instant messaging, who’s on duty, who’s live, you can send a note and include a link,” he explains. Images as data: The best metaphor for the ideal functionality of a health information system came from GE’s Lawrence White, who compared a health care provider’s enterprise data to the bits of color in a kaleidoscope. Each user should be able to turn the kaleidoscope and get the pattern—the metaphorical view—they need. “We are building the infrastructure to support the discrete data from an EMR that also supports the care areas, including imaging and other document types,” he says. “Ultimately, you want a single point of access for all of this.” Taking a holistic view of imaging, Agfa’s Lenny Reznick says the company is encouraging hospitals to transition to one archive —the IMPAX data center—for all of an organization’s image data. “When we look at PACS replacements, we are saying you need to think about all of the ‘ologies’ in the archive,” he says. Speaking of PACS transitions, Laitek’s Fred Behlen, PhD, says that the data migration company has crossed a threshold in the data migration business: “We are now spending more time getting data into a new PACS than getting it out of the old one.” To address this issue, Laitek has introduced SemperData, a remote archive component with outbound migration software built into the server. It stores data in DICOM media file-sets and is priced on a lease basis. On natural language processing: Expect to see some interesting uses of natural language processing emerge for extracting data from reports to demonstrate meaningful use (Nuance) and for prompting physicians to dictate enough information to support ICD-10 coding (Brit Systems). Just plain interesting: Radimetrics, Toronto, Ontario, showed eXposure, an application to track cumulative patient exposure to radiation that can be used real-time by technologists to support the ALARA principles. While the solution does not capture actual radiation counts from the modality, it incorporates an advanced simulation engine loaded with data that enables techs to see the results of imaging too large an area or using adult protocols on pediatric patients. Allocade, Menlo Park, California, uses software that was developed to manage time on the Hubble telescope to optimize scheduling in, for instance, a hospital radiology department. The app can crawl through all of the information systems in the hospital to detect conflicts and prevent stretchers from lining up outside imaging suites, while keeping the technology occupied. CEO Gary Wright says: “A hospital is like managed chaos; everything is timed to occur within a day, but people are sick and things happen. In order to get timely care in a dynamic environment, you have to have a software application that can adjust as the patient’s situation changes.” One of the super cool things about going to HIMSS, is that there are a limited number of imaging-specific booths so you can get around to visiting the companies that provide the fundamentals behind image networking, companies like Laurel Bridge, which sells DICOM toolkits to OEMs, and Interfaceware, which sells HL7 integration solutions named after lizards to OEMs and, increasingly, teleradiology companies, which had to be on the floor in significant numbers if I bumped into three of them while I was there. By the way, does anyone know how many teleradiology companies there are out there? If so, please contact me or reply below. {encode="cproval@imagingbiz.com" title="Cheryl Proval"}