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Imaging IT market insights

From the January/February issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine

By Julie Johnson

Enterprise imaging is the hot topic in the imaging IT space right now.
Imaging IT is shifting from more than just traditional picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) that focus on each clinical imaging business line to enterprise imaging solutions. At its core, enterprise imaging streamlines patient imaging data, multimedia content, and reports from multiple sources, and combines this information into one manageable platform, which can then be stored, managed, reviewed, and distributed. Many providers undergoing expansion due to the heavy activity of mergers and acquisitions are seeking a solution to consolidate and standardize diverse imaging infrastructures. This has driven increased interest in vendor-neutral archive technology, as well as a trend has been referred to as "deconstructing PACS”. Vendors are working on these enterprise solutions to help support their customers in this effort while creating more efficient workflows to promote better patient care.

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When choosing an imaging IT solution, whether it be a PACS or enterprise imaging solution, many hospitals are concerned with integration and interoperability. To help bridge this gap, some third-party vendors have moved into this space, mainly to provide software and interfacing solutions to help reduce some of the costs that can be involved from an integration standpoint.

With any IT solution also comes the concern for better cybersecurity. Hospitals are more concerned than ever with data breaches and are seeking out vendors that can offer the latest security innovations to prevent high-level breaches and ransomware threats. Many facilities are making the change from in-house network security solutions to outsourcing operations, which allows them access to experienced experts in the field at lower operating costs. Cloud-based solutions are also becoming preferable from a workflow standpoint as remote access for viewing, consulting, and diagnostic support is highly desired by clinicians.

As imaging departments continue to seek solutions to demanding workflow issues, artificial intelligence and data analytics are becoming areas of interest for customers considering an imaging IT solution. The buzzwords floating around all imaging segments right now seem to be artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning. Vendors are building upon their current imaging IT platforms to create new software applications to aid radiologists in enhancing productivity. Deep learning has proven to be effective in CT, MRI, and X-ray. Imaging vendors have utilized deep learning through AI to produce algorithms aiding in slice placement, to assist technologists in becoming more efficient and completing their tasks more quickly. The utilization of AI in the MR/CT space is automatic reconstruction, which replaces the need for the technologist to do MIPS and other post-processing. AI has also proven helpful for patient motion tracking to help with x-rays to reduce motion artifacts and rotation issues, and in breast ultrasound for detecting lesions. There are several other AI solutions submitted by multiple vendors pending 510(k) clearances, and many that are still in the concept and testing phase.
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