New Article: So, You want to buy a Cardiovascular PACS

A quick search off the Internet will reveal tons of materials available for to help decision makers in selecting a suitable radiology PACS but sadly, the same cannot be said for cardiovascular PACS. Having been on both side of the fences, I decided to author a ‘top ten tips’ in selecting a cardiovascular PACS.

I hope this article help you mates out there in making the right decision. Read the article here, enjoy 🙂

Note: While I am a Product Manager for the leading cardiovascular PACS vendor, the article is entirely vendor neutral (as with all things related to ).

Effective Project Management – Tracking my life story

I just embarked on a mini personal project – compiling the timeline of my ‘life story’ starting from tertiary education, this is how it got started.

I just finished an article on how to select a Cardiovascular PACS (I’ll post it up later, its 2:30 am in the morning of 28th Dec, passion can only motivate me this much 🙂 ) and was about to resume my MSc Computing’s project when my wife asked me if I will ever stop studying (I was trying to convince her that I should started on another Post Graduate Diploma in May 2008) and I pause to think of about what I have been doing over the years (and mind you, I’m not that old).

So I started to dig for documents pertaining to my education, career, housing, marriage, web portal and some other special events etc etc and I was amazed with the amount of information I’ve managed to gather in such a short time, this is the advantage of running all aspect of my life like projects!

While I do not have a gnatt chart for my life (yes, that is impossible, even for me), I do have timelines (with milestones) and priority listing for most of the stuff I did (after tertiary education), as I compile the timeline, I started to reflect on how things could have been done better but overall, I am rather please with the progress / results (versus my lofty goals).

As with all projects, some didn’t make it to completion, like my Phd (but that is classified as low priority) but some just got rescheduled (effectively) in order to deliver other high priorities, like my driving license. I started the journey for my driving license back in Mar 1999 and had to put it on hold in Nov 2000 (after failing the test a couple of times), but I kept it on my rader and resume it in June 2006. I got my license in Mar 2007. Six years is not too late as driving in Singapore is not really needed (but I’m driving these days :))

Along the way I went on to complete many other stuff (mostly simultaneously) and to be honest, I was very impressed that I had managed to pull off so many ‘time and resources intensive’ high priorities tasks at the same time and yet be relatively please with the outcome (try working as a regional manager of a top consulting firm, do a post graduate course in medical informatics, go for driving lessons, accompany and care for a pregnant wife, maintain a web portal with good readership (this one) and acing it while going about with the rest of the daily activites in life without going crazy 🙂 )

I’m not saying I’m a super project manager or some genius, else I’d be someone rich or famous (or both). So how did I manage to do that, well, I applied basic project management skills to my life, define the scope with a goal in mind, set priorities and resources, review it regularly to ensure things are going on schedule, add resources or manage priorities when necessary etc. While not everything was smooth sailing but things worked out well (so far).

I reckon the timeline will make a wonderful reference if I ever get to write my biography, now all I got to do is compile it nicely after getting some sleep 🙂

Study: Investing in health IT, incentive plans could save $456B

Alright, this is actually a “no-brainer”, I doubt if any one ever questioned if investing in effective healthcare informatics ever help saved money, but nevertheless, I still recommend one to read this article. Also, this particular sentence caught my attention;

“the report estimates that $88 billion could be saved by accelerating healthcare providers’ adoption of health IT that would allow them to share all patient health information with the other healthcare providers involved in the patient’s care.

Although it seems to suggest that the solution to all problems is an unified Electronic Medical Record – EMR (and it is not wrong), one must understand that without ancillary systems pumping patient’s data to the EMR, there will be no “sharing of patient’s health information with other providers”.

I guess I need to sit down and finish my article illustrating the differences and relationship between EMRs, Hospital Information Systems (HIS) and Clinical Information Systems (CIS) ……… among many other articles/whitepaper 🙂

Vision 2008 upgrades for iU22 ultrasound

Philips has launched a “Vision 2008” upgrade for the iU22 ultrasound, promising new workflow and imaging capabilities.

I’ve seen the iU22 in action back when I was working in a hospital, the image quality is really good and in my humble opinion, its value for money (at least at the price that we bought it). Philips claims that coupled with the ViewForum workstation, the upgraded iU22 can be viewed in the same format as CT and MRI because the upgrade enables users to view a sequential block of volume data, virtually rescan at any time to obtain their most diagnostic 2D images.

Is this something new? Not really, Zonare’s ultrasound system, which uses the “ZONE Sonography™ technology” acquires ultrasound data relatively quickly in small number of large ‘zones’, each containing a volume of data equivalent to many lines in a conventional system and similarly, Zonare’s ultrasound system allows users the flexibility in obtaining a 2D image, virtually anytime.

I first witness the “ZONE Sonography™ technology” back on 25th August 2005 (yes, another event that made me one of the first few outside of USA back then) and I was awed by the technology. Earlier this year, as the programme manager (asia pacific) of medical imaging and healthcare IT (with a research and consulting company) I gave this quote while issuing an award to Zonare;

“Zone Sonography is not just an improvement of current ultrasound systems, but a breakthrough that could push ultrasound into a new technological forefront. Coupled with the ultrasound platform, the industry may see changes to ultrasound as we currently know it.”

I still stand by what I said. If this technology is developed further, it would translate to better healthcare as there is no radiation, no repeated scan, reduces patient queue, turnaround time, patient’s time, money and stress (try being asked by the hospital to come back for a rescan)

Most importantly, I believe (as always) that if ones invent a new way to do imaging, another will take it further by using it as an enabler for further change.

With this, I am getting more excited towards what 2008 will bring, in another post -“Light and Sound – The way forward for better medical imaging“, I highlighted an article on photoacoustic effect, which utilise sound waves produced by different types of soft human tissue to identify and map features that other imaging methods (including X-rays) cannot distinguish so well.

Seems like the road towards radiation-less imaging has just been shorten. 🙂

Light And Sound: The Way Forward For Better Medical Imaging

The title says it all – “Light And Sound: The Way Forward For Better Medical Imaging”.

Imagine diagnostic imaging without radiation, this is what this post is about mates 🙂 

The first of its kind in the world, a prototype system has been developed by the University College London that uses extremely short pulses of low-energy laser light to stimulate the emission of ultrasonic acoustic waves from the tissue area being examined. These waves are then converted into high-resolution 3D images of tissue structure. 

The emission of an acoustic wave when matter absorbs light is known as the photoacoustic effect. Harnessing this basic principle, the new system makes use of the variations in the sound waves that are produced by different types of soft human tissue to identify and map features that other imaging methods cannot distinguish so well.

This method can be used to reveal disease in types of tissue that are more difficult to image using techniques based on x-rays or conventional ultrasound. The technique is completely safe and will help doctors diagnose, monitor and treat a wide range of soft-tissue conditions more effectively, it will undergo trials in clinical applications, with routine deployment in the healthcare sector envisaged within around 5 years.

I personally think that this will revolutionise the imaging profession as well as putting alot of Radiographers ‘out of their jobs’. Just build a whole body scanner with instructive user interface that allows the operator to scan the human body by segments of interest…. just a thought 🙂

Read the full story here.

Imaging updates for Cardiology

A quick browse off the Internet re-ascertain my stand – cardiology (and cardiology informatics) is the next big thing withing the imaging sector, here are some interesting article for your reading pleasure

  1. Trial finds 64-slice CTA capable of ruling out significant coronary artery disease (Read article here)
    Johns Hopkins University Medical Center showed that 64-slice CT angiography of the heart and its surrounding arteries is nearly as reliable and accurate as more invasive diagnostic tests for coronary artery disease.
  2. MRI Benefits Outweigh Risks in Cardiovascular Patients (Read article here)
    The American Heart Association has published a scientific statement on the safety of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in patients with cardiovascular devices, saying that when warranted, the benefits outweigh the risks.
  3. Johns Hopkins Installs First Aquilion (Read article here)
    The first 320-slice computed tomography (CT) scanner in North America has been installed and is in operation at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.  Device safely images whole heart (or brain, as well as tiny blood vessels)
  4. CT more useful to detect calcium buildup, indicating heart risks in women (Read more here)
    A new analysis of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) shows that a third of women considered to be low risk based on the Framingham Risk Score (FRS) had detectable coronary artery calcium (CAC) on a CT scan

There are tons of articles off the Internet and most of them are actually on the adoption of current imaging modalities (like CT and MRI) for Cardiac usage.

Enjoy 🙂

KLAS names top health IT performers for 2007

First thing first, I do not work for KLAS but I like their reports 🙂

“KLAS publishes a semiannual report on vendor performance ratings by healthcare professionals. Best in KLAS rankings celebrate vendors receiving highest provider scores for software, professional services and medical equipment.”

I’m not going to include the results here as I do not wish to (officially) endorse or ‘just copy and paste some content” and post it off as a commentative blog but please do read the report here.

I only wish KLAS covers Asia Pacific. Why?

The growth is right here. Period 🙂

Older imaging studies necessary for clinical routine

The folks at EMC and Hitachi will love this one, the age long debate on the ‘lifespan’ of a radiological image have been ‘resolved’.

One of the main reason for PACS implementation is the ability to ‘instantly” access prior images and hospitals administrator are forever wondering how long these images should be kept.

Some guidelines recommended 7 years for adults and 21 years of paediatrics, others suggest that medical images should be stored forever, the decision towards the retention period affects a couple of decisions, among these are

  • The upfront and operational cost of adding storage (also , data on spinning disk not being used = waste of aircon and electricity)
  • The scalability of the storage architecture designed / proposed (which can translate to higher upfront cost for high end equipment)
  • How much data to migrate when choosing / replacing a PACS.

The results of a study presented at the recent RSNA (read more here) reveals the breakdown for images access for clinical routine;

  • 48 percent – studies between one and two years of age
  • 22 percent – studies between two and three years old
  • 13 percent – studies between three and four years old
  • 9 percent – studies between four and five years old
  • 6 percent – studies between five and six years old
  • 2 percent – studies between six and seven years old

Hope this piece of information can help you ‘size up’ your PACS 🙂

Christmas is coming!

That’s right, it is officially 10:40am on the 19th Dec 2007, 6 more days to Christmas.

I’m happy in a way, stressed in way. Happy because its going to be Christmas (need I say more?) Stressed as there are still so much to do, in terms of both professional work as well as Evangelism work.

I reckon I’ll take a break once Christmas Eve comes and relax for a few days before I go into a planning frenzy in order ‘to get 2008 right’ 🙂 This happens every year, I firmly believe in having good plans with ‘Backup, Backup Backup’, however, it seems that most of the time, I’m fighting someone else’s ‘fire’.

“The lack of planning on your end does not constitute to an emergency on mine” doesn’t seem to apply when you are a solution / service provider, especially when the solution / service you are providing happens to saves lives. Having said that, I’m still glad I’m in the Healthcare Informatics industry, it really is a ‘good place to be’, I just hope that my job evolves around my hobby – Healthcare IT Evangelism 🙂

I hope to do more in 2008, not only in terms of my career but also in terms of my education (I’m always studying), Family (My daughter is starting to crawl!) and raising the bar in Healthcare Informatics, but as of now, I will need to sit back and relax, enjoy the holiday seasons. After-all, Christmas is coming!