Crystal Ball: Toward True Enterprise Image Management

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As the potential role of informatics in transforming health care gains national attention, how are IT tools for imaging and image management evolving to improve clinical efficiency and bolster quality of care? ImagingBiz spoke with Aaron Waitz, vice president of product development for FUJIFILM Medical Systems USA, Stamford, Connecticut, on the future of imaging informatics and the Fujifilm Synapse® product line.

ImagingBiz: As the newly appointed VP of product development, what would you say is your driving goal/vision for Fujifilm product development?

imageAaron Waitz

Waitz: What I’ve been driving home with our development teams is the need to focus on our mission: producing innovative, high quality products that exceed our customers’ expectations. While some might hear this and think it’s just a cliché, to me adherence to it will be fundamental to our future success. What we believe will make a high quality product is continuing to exploit our native Web-based architecture into new applications. We have already integrated our PACS, RIS and cardiovascular applications; continued concentration on taking advantage of the synergies in our infrastructure across the different modalities and clinical specialties we serve, while also providing unique user experiences for clinicians via the toolsets that aid their workflow, will be key.

When you look at the architecture of enterprise information systems, the synergy of technology happens deep inside the system; as you come closer to the end user experience, that’s where you start to see differences, and those are because of the different clinical workflows between cardiology and radiology. Our Synapse clinical modules are integrated now: we run on the same infrastructure and a number of the software components run on the same hardware; the storage systems share infrastructure; and all the content switching that would take place at the front of the system is shared between radiology and cardiology. The user interface looks seamless to the end user, and we’re working on bringing more of that technology closer together to accelerate our new feature development and share workflow efficiency features across specialties.

Finally, software development expertise will be a key differentiator in the market. Those vendors that not only collaborate with customers to deliver products, but that also deliver enhancements in a timeframe that is judged by customers to be responsive, will be the most successful. We intend to separate ourselves with our focus and capability in this area.

ImagingBiz: You’ve personally been instrumental in Fujifilm’s entrance into and subsequent growth in cardiovascular imaging. Why is it important to be in this market? How has the addition of cardio PACS impacted your product portfolio?

Waitz: Cardiovascular is the second-largest producer of diagnostic images in the hospital. Further, according to the World Health Organization, ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of mortality worldwide and expected to grow and stay in that position for the next 30 years. Cerebrovascular disease is another serious health concern. So it’s easy to see why there is a great demand for high quality cardiovascular imaging and a need for continued product innovation.

In addition, imaging modalities like CT, MR and ultrasound are crossing the traditional boundaries between radiology and cardiology. Customers are looking for enterprise solutions that can present the entire patient record versus just the isolated departmental record.

The emergence of CPACS has resulted in developmental efficiency synergies and a stimulus for new feature enhancement between the markets we serve. With the changing health care environment, our proven proficiency in quantification and lab accreditation in cardiology will allow us to leverage those learnings toward radiology. Conversely, the same is true for some of Fujifilm’s deep-rooted history in image processing and informatics innovation in radiology, which we can apply to cardiology.

ImagingBiz: In 2008 you added RIS to the Synapse® portfolio. How has that added value to the PACS, and what can we expect to see in terms of RIS enhancements in the future?

Waitz: That acquisition has proven to be a valuable strategic move that is really bearing fruit. A significant percentage of our sales are being combined with both RIS and PACS so customers can take advantage of streamlined workflow. We keep working on new product enhancements