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Ambulatory PACS

February 25, 2009
by root
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As the number of patient visits increases, so too does the demand for more efficient and automated imaging

KLAS says: Over the past two decades, the outpatient environment has become a preferred place for all types of imaging procedures: from routine diagnostic imaging such as x-ray and MRI in orthopedics, to more advanced exams such as cardiac imaging and minimally invasive radiology. Currently, about 1.2 billion hospital and ambulatory patient visits occur annually in the United States, and the rate of growth in patient visits ensures that the demand for medical imaging will only increase in the coming years.

Improving the quality of patient care and increasing efficiency are the twin goals of automation in imaging. Given the many PACS choices available to imaging centers, orthopedic clinics, and multi- and single specialty physician groups, potential buyers are led to wonder which vendors can supply their particular needs. Which vendors provide a stable product that is able to scale to higher volumes? Which integrated PACS/RIS products are commonly utilized? In this era of the Deficit Reduction Act, which vendors are reporting growth, and which ones are losing business? Which vendors consistently deliver? (The top 10, as per performance score, are represented here.)



Aspyra - Aspyra has done a solid job of automating low-volume, first-time PACS adopters with a low-cost and easy-to-implement system. Aspyra struggles in organizations that do a high volume of studies and require more advanced functionality.

Avreo-Avreo interWORKS is a simple, integrated, first-adopter solution that initially received high reviews. As customers have exited the honeymoon phase with the system, client satisfaction continues a downward trend.

DR Systems-DR Systems currently enjoys tremendous success due to its reputation for delivering a radiologist-friendly product and top-notch support, which has resulted in a top-tier ranking in this study. However, clients warn that support is starting to slide due to the vendor's growth.

FUJIFILM-FUJIFILM has been a solid vendor in all PACS markets in which it competes. Synapse has performed well for organizations with heavy requirements for teleradiology and remote access. As the vendor continues to grow, clients are becoming vocal about increasing difficulty in working with FUJIFILM and challenges with getting appropriate attention for support issues.

GE IW (Dynamic Imaging)- Centricity IW's architecture and streamlined workflow have made it an ideal fit for many imaging centers. Many respondents have questioned whether GE can accomplish the challenging task of integrating IW while also preserving the culture that has made Dynamic Imaging so successful.

Intelerad-Intelerad delivers a PACS that is proactively monitored, proven to work in high-volume imaging environments, and has exceptional uptime. Clients report outstanding service and complete confidence in the integrity of their system. Among the few issues raised by customers is a desire for the more advanced functionality typically found on full-featured PACS offerings from larger vendors.

NovaRad-NovaRad markets an integrated RIS/PACS that is easy to implement and poses a low cost barrier to adoption. The majority of NovaRad's clients are small, low-volume imaging organizations, reflecting the profile of many NovaRad clients in the hospital space.

Philips-Philips has proven popular in high-volume environments with its mix of high uptime, rapid image transfer, and ease of use. While Philips is poised for additional growth, current clients feel that the product risks becoming stagnant if Philips does not quicken the pace of enhancement releases for advanced functionality.

RamSoft-RamSoft has performed strongly in the low-volume imaging center market. The PACS is affordable to implement and easy to maintain. The client base is loyal; no respondent plans to replace RamSoft in the next two years.

Sectra-Sectra does a good job of supporting customers and delivering a high-quality product, but it is relatively weak in tools that are critical for the high-volume end of the outpatient market, namely teleradiology and remote access. Sectra's focus on the inpatient market may be the cause for falling client satisfaction in the outpatient market.

Healthcare Informatics 2009 March;26(3):17