New JDI Article Published – Informatics Challenges—Lossy Compression in Medical Imaging

An article I co-authored with Kinson Ho on the implications on informatics and information management when applying lossy compression to medical images in DICOM has been published. Check it out here.

It also explores whether wavelet-based compression (e.g. JPEG2000) still provides the value that it once promised. A comparison of different approaches to preserve system and network resources is included.

It is available in Journal of Digital Imaging.

Webinar – Separating PACS Servers from VNA…and then Connecting Them

I will be doing a Webinar on the differences between your PACS server and a VNA, as well as what to look for in a VNA (and in your PACS when connecting it to a VNA), on May 20, 2014 at 1 pm ET. We will have time for some Q&A, so it should be a good session.

Registration is free. Sign up here.

Article – The time is now for deconstructed PACS

Here is another article (on Aunt Minnie; you likely need an account to access, but it’s free) predicting the deconstruction of PACS (and workflow management systems, like RIS). This mirrors many of the same predictions made in the article titled PACS 2018: An Autopsy, published in JDI recently.

The author’s observations on the lack of recent innovation in PACS is likely attributable to the saturation of PACS in mature markets. Would you invest the same amount in R&D on PACS in today’s environment as you would before the PACS “gold rush” of the mid-2000’s? I touched on this in a blog post a year ago after attending the SIIM 2013 Annual Meeting.

The Gamification of Radiology

Check out this article on gamification and clinicians.

In Radiology practices, obvious applications of gamification is using the inherent social pressure of it to improve report turnaround/signing times and peer review quota compliance. Or, even clinician satisfaction of the report.

It could also be used to provide reward/advantage to technologists that provide superior service to patients and acquire good quality imaging exams.

Participating in continuing education opportunities—say, like by attending the SIIM Annual Meeting—could also earn “points” toward rewards.

To work, it needs to be based on meaningful activities, include an aspect of social pressure and provide rewards that matter to the participants.

Article – Forecasting a New Reality for Radiology — An Investment Banker’s Thoughts on How Imaging Will Evolve

A lot has been written on consolidation of Radiology practices in the U.S.. This article in Radiology Today reiterates the economic and regulatory forces behind this trend, but also includes some points on the emotional aspects felt by those that built Radiology practices and are faced with selling.

One point not raised in the article is the operational efficiencies that can be found in IT consolidation. An effective IT organization using a modern image and management platform, backed with skilled staff can enable Radiologists to focus their efforts on quality of service delivery, and not on IT installation, configuration, upgrades, etc.

JDI Article Published – REST Enabling the Report Template Library

I contributed to an article recently published in the Journal of Digital Imaging. The primary author is Brad Genereaux (@IntegratorBrad). His blog is here.

This article examines the use of a REST API to discover, retrieve and use structured radiology report templates from an on-line report repository.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Favorite Blog Posts of 2013

As the first calendar year of my blog draw to a close, I thought I would compile a list of my favorite blog posts from 2013. I hope everyone has a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

  1. 100th Blog Post: What I know about Software Development and Crisis Management
  2. The rise of the mobile-only user …and how this helps the underpriviliged
  3. Review of Stage 2 Meaningful Use Test Procedure for Image Results …and other MU tests
  4. Quebec EHR …the difference 2 years makes
  5. Video – Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care
  6. Designing for the ‘Public’ and the ‘Pros’
  7. Articles on Mobile Health Applications and FDA Regulation
  8. Plug-ins vs. APIs
  9. Article from HIMSS: PACS will not remain a self-contained data silo
  10. Blog posts on SIIM Web site (Part 1 and Part 2)

JDI Article Published – PACS 2018: An Autopsy

An article I submitted to the Journal of Digital Imaging has been published electronically.

Told from the year 2018, it looks back at the market and technical forces that results in the deconstruction of PACS (and RIS) as we know it.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Reflections on RSNA 2013

I have attended the RSNA show for over a decade, but always as a vendor. My days consisted of many meetings with many customers of varying needs, trying to convince them that the products that our company made were superior to those offered across the aisle by the competitors.

This year was my first year as a consultant. I attended on behalf of clients, meeting with several vendors to discover how their solution could help my client meet their business and clinical objectives.

In short, I was on the other side of the fence for the first time. And it was enlightening.

First, as a vendor, you are on your feet for hours, actively listening, talking, and demonstrating software or presenting information at a high energy level. It is exhausting and your body feels it by the end of the show.

As an attendee, representing a recognized and respected healthcare institution, I had a much different experience. Upon arrival at the vendor’s booth, we (I was accompanied by one or more representatives from the hospital), were led to the comfy couches. We were offered water or coffee or a latte. Everyone was attentive and polite. I would be lying if I said that I did not enjoy this more than the grueling schedule of vendor staff (do thank them when you see them—they work very hard at RSNA).

My personal user experience aside, I had some observations on the way vendors manage the interaction with a potential (or existing) customer.

Caveat: I am not a sales person and have not been one in any capacity since working retail just out of high school. I do not profess to be a sales expert, but I have observed some of the best and worst at their craft, so I know some things about the art of selling.

Observation #1: Vendors do not ask enough questions

I thought this was Sales 101. Qualify the lead.

What problem are they trying to solve? Why did they come to the booth? What are they trying to learn/accomplish during the appointment? Where are they in the buying cycle? Do they have budget? Who is involved in making a decision? What solutions are under consideration?

It did vary from vendor to vendor, but I was amazed at how few questions were asked. Most just went right into their pitch, often trying to convince us of something that we already knew or believed.

Observation #2: Vendors fail to understand the roles of the people in the meeting

Vendors need to remember who the actual buyer is in the meeting. In every meeting, we clearly defined our titles and roles. I was always identified as a consultant. My client representatives were of roles that make buying decisions, yet in some meetings, the sales person made all their eye contact, and spoke directly, with me. In one case, they did this so much, I felt awkward for my client—they were practically ignored. Consultants may be decision influencers, but when you have an actual decision maker in the meeting, pitch to them.

Observation #3: Vendors don’t prepare well enough for meetings with existing customers

If you are a vendor that already does business with the customer, be prepared for the meeting. Know the outstanding issues that customer is having. Know which of your company’s products are installed there and what version they are on. Know the basic installation details (e.g. physical deployment) and which user communities are using the product.

If you don’t know these things, asking them in the meeting does not instill confidence in the customer, especially if there are some outstanding issues to be resolved.

And don’t tell the customer that they are the only one having these problems. It only makes them feel worse.

Observation #4: Solutions are stabilizing

I didn’t see anything that really amazed me. As a person involved mostly in product definition and development with a vendor, we were always told (often by sales people) that everyone else had amazing products and that we were so far behind. In my experience, the solutions offered in various categories do vary in their strengths, but none are abjectly poor at what they are intended to do.

The quality of sales professional varied more than the quality/functionality of the products offered, quite frankly.

In seeking solutions, it is not so much about finding the best product, but the product that fits the institution’s needs the best. Which requires that you know what those needs are, of course.

Observation #5: Analytics are evolving; So are monitoring solutions

Lots of vendors are offering some form of analytics package. Especially those offering products to optimize workflow (they get lots of info that they can make use of in those HL7 messages).

System monitoring is improving, but still have a ways to go. I think customers need to become better educated as to what is possible with a well-designed system monitoring solution, and the benefits (so that they can get the budget approval needed to put it in place).