Dalai's PACS Blog

February-27-2015

13:51
I guess my fingers are not quite as firmly placed on the pulse of PACS as I might have thought. I was completely blindsided by today's announcement of the acquisition of DR Systems by Merge. Oh, well, life is full of surprises.

From AuntMinnie.com:
February 27, 2015 -- One of the oldest names in imaging informatics is going by the wayside as PACS firm DR Systems has been acquired by Merge Healthcare. While the DR Systems name will be retired as part of the deal, founder and CEO Dr. Murray Reicher has been named chief medical officer (CMO) of Merge.

The deal unites two midlevel PACS providers and gives Merge additional scale to compete with larger multinational firms in the imaging informatics space. It also expands Merge's geographic footprint to DR Systems' core market in the Western U.S., while broadening the combined company's portfolio of intellectual property.

The deal was finalized on February 25, according to Michael Klozotsky, vice president of marketing at Merge.

Founded in 1992

DR Systems was founded in 1992 by neuroradiologist Reicher along with another brain imaging specialist, Dr. Evan Fram. Reicher and Fram said they founded the company out of dissatisfaction with existing PACS software available at the time.

The closely held company charted its own course over the years, remaining fiercely independent even as the rest of the radiology industry consolidated. The company gained a reputation for high levels of customer satisfaction, as evidenced by a string of top rankings in KLAS reports, as well as for its aggressive defense of its patents for PACS software.

Through the years, Reicher maintained his active role with the San Diego firm, serving as a frequent speaker at industry events and publishing peer-reviewed articles on imaging informatics. He assumed the position of CEO again earlier this year after the retirement of longtime chief executive Rick Porritt.

In announcing the acquisition, Merge cited the broad array of healthcare information technology software that will be offered by the combined firm, including DR Systems' eMix image-sharing service, RIS software, and cardiology and pathology offerings. Both companies also offer traditional PACS and RIS/PACS software and, indeed, have long been competitors in the acute care and ambulatory markets, Klozotsky said.

Merge cited the high customer satisfaction ratings of the combined entity, with No. 1 ratings according to KLAS surveys for cardiovascular information systems, hemodynamic monitoring software, and RIS software. Merge also plans to offer its iConnect Network services, including exam preauthorization, through DR Systems' installed base.

In addition to adding Reicher as CMO, Merge said it plans to keep DR Systems' San Diego headquarters open as its West Coast regional office. DR Systems employs some 180 people, according to Wikipedia. Merge will also maintain support for DR Systems' core software platform, continue with current implementations, and support and advance all product lines, the company said.

Merge expects the deal to be accretive to earnings per share under nongenerally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) in 2015 and future years. Merge financed the deal through a combination of $20 million in cash on hand and $50 million in cash raised from the sale of shares of recently issued preferred stock.

The deal is the latest in a long string of acquisitions that Merge has made over the years as it grew from a niche firm offering data connectivity software to perhaps the largest independent PACS firm. Other acquisitions have included Amicas, Cedara Software, Confirma, RIS Logic, and eFilm Medical.

Merge's most recent acquisition is designed to give the combined entity the heft to move forward in a healthcare industry where size increasingly matters.

"As healthcare continues to consolidate, scale is very, very important," Klozotsky. "This allows Merge to really operate on an entirely different level of scale."
I've met Dr. Reicher one one occasion, and he is a perfect choice for CMO. He is very well spoken, and truly a pioneer in this business.  In fact, DR holds quite a few core patents in PACS, as some other companies have painfully discovered.

It remains to be seen just how the DR products will be incorporated into the Merge palate. Will Merge PACS have a Catapult for the techs? We shall see...

February-27-2015

13:37
Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek's Mr. Spock to generations of fans, died today at age 83. Nimoy died peacefully at home from complications of COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, caused by cigarette smoking in his younger years. How illogical.

I think the eulogy given by William Shatner as Captain Kirk in the second Star Trek movie, The Wrath of Khan, says it all:
We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead. And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world; a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... human.
Star Trek gave us hope of new worlds, of new ideas, in the midst of the strife of the 1960's. We need this encouragement even more today.

Spock was at once of us and foreign to us, half-human and half-Vulcan. Similarly, Nimoy, growing up an Orthodox Jew in Boston, probably felt something of the same dichotomy. When a Star Trek script called for Spock to make an "alien gesture," Nimoy reached back into his Jewish heritage, and used the Orthodox priestly blessing as the "Live Long and Prosper" sign we know so well:


I spent about 10 seconds in the presence of Messrs. Nimoy and Shatner at the Star Trek convention in 2004. We were not quite on a first-name basis, although at one point I was one of William Shatner's 5,000 Facebook friends. Still, like millions of fans today, I feel like I've lost a close friend; these actors and their characters have been part of our lives, well, for most of our lives.

But as DeForrest Kelley's Dr. McCoy said at the end of The Wrath of Khan, "He's not really gone as long as we find a way to remember him." Perhaps not completely logical, but true nonetheless.

Godspeed, Leonard.

I have to add one little thing on this, the day of Mr. Nimoy's funeral. I was searching the Official Leonard Nimoy Online Shop (shopLLAP.com) for something he had touched or otherwise autographed. I came upon his signed self-portraits in the photography section, housed by R. Michelson Galleries, and ultimately found this one for sale:


It's called "Self-Portrait with MRI".  Well, even Spock made a mistake here and there... The signed versions may be a little pricey, but this is priceless. I'm waiting on a quote...

February-24-2015

12:48

The folks who brought us the Pebble Watch are at it again, today announcing the new Pebble Time, a
"Color e-paper smart watch with up to 7 days of battery and a new timeline interface that highlights what's important in your day," on Kickstarter. Features include:
  • We're announcing a new watch called Pebble Time with a new timeline interface.
  • Pebble Time features a new (64) color e-paper display and microphone for responding to notifications.
  • No compromises on what you love about Pebble: up to 7 days of battery life, water resistance and customizability.
  • Pebble Time is fully compatible with all 6,500+ existing Pebble apps and watchfaces.
  • Three colors available exclusively on Kickstarter. Pebble Time starts shipping in May.
  • Extra special engraving for our original Kickstarter backers who support us again ♥♥♥
The first thing we notice is, of course, the color screen. Nice touch, but it is not a touch screen. The Time is still button-driven. It does have a microphone built in to allow some level of voice control or response (although for iOS, this is so far limited to Gmail notifications, but no doubt this will improve. The presence of the tiny hole for the microphone renders the Time water resistant, but not water proof like its elder siblings.

The OS is redone with WebOS underpinnings. It's nice that the now defunct revamped Palm platform has landed somewhere useful.


It's a little cartoonish, but it should be useful, customizable, and still run all the old Pebble apps (and I suppose watch faces too.)
As with all Pebble software, we’ve built an open platform. You can allow apps and developers to add ‘pins’ to your timeline, so you can keep track of things like upcoming events, sports, weather, traffic, travel plans, pizza specials and more.

The Pebble operating system has been re-imagined with a new visual style. While all existing Pebble apps will still work great, we’re inviting developers to upgrade their apps to support color. More details coming soon!
Had you been on the stick, you could have had one of the first 10,000 watches for $159, but they went fast. Pebble has raised $4 Million within hours (minutes?) of the Time's debut. You can still get in at $179 if you act fast. The retail price will be $199.

So why haven't I jumped on this? Two words...Apple Watch. In some ways, this is an apples and oranges (pun intended) comparison. The cheapest Apple Watch will be the aluminum sports version, at about $350, or so the pundits say. The stainless steel model will be $500, and the Gold Elite Apple Fan Boy edition will be $5,000.  But the AW is a whole 'nother animal. Its build quality is likely to be a step beyond the Pebble's, the functionality will be far greater, at least for iPhone owners, the screen will be better and touchable, there will be heart rate sensors (maybe not active initially), and so on. On the other hand, the Pebble Time will be cheaper and supposedly will go 7 days between charges. The Apple Watch apparently will barely make it through the day with moderate use.

I love my original Pebble, which works very well within its parameters. The Time will most likely do so as well. I have high hopes for the Apple Watch, which should be in my hands sometime in April, just before the Time ships. Time will tell, eh?

February-24-2015

11:05
My good friend Mike Cannavo, the One and Only PACSMan, called me this morning, quite concerned with something he saw on my blog. No, he's used to the juvenile writing and other foolishness rampant on these pages. But when the PACSMan brought up the blog this morning, he saw this:


Funny, because when I opened the page, I got this:


If you didn't already know, many blogs on Google's Blogger/Blogspot platform use AdSense, which adds a little interest to the process, if you know what I mean.

AdSense is a free, simple way to earn money by displaying targeted ads next to your online content. With AdSense, you can show relevant and engaging ads to your site visitors and even customize the look and feel of ads to match your website.
Watch the video to find out why over two million publishers of all sizes are using AdSense.

Every time you click an ad, I get a fraction of a cent. And I do mean a fraction. In the 10 years this blog has been up and running, I think I've made about $200.00 or so. But it is Google that determines which ads run on the page, based on YOUR browser's cookies. In other words, if you've looked at Dell, or RamSoft, you'll be seeing their ad on an AdSense site.

The AdSense ads thus DO NOT REPRESENT AN ENDORSEMENT OF ANY KIND. If this should reflect on my credibility, meager though it is, I'll turn off the AdSense and you can all put a penny in the mail for my retirement-home-Jello fund instead.

Make sense?

February-19-2015

18:18


AuntMinnie.com reports an FDA recall of about a zillion GE MRI's and other brands with GE components (well, actually, it's only 13,000 of them):
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered a recall of thousands of MRI scanners manufactured by GE Healthcare to correct a problem that could "result in life-threatening injuries" if magnet shutdown modules are disconnected, according to an FDA notice.

In the notice, dated February 18, the FDA announced that it has ordered a class I device recall of all GE MRI scanners using superconducting magnets. The recall covers some 33 brand names of scanners and thousands of systems distributed throughout the world, manufactured from 1985 to today.

The notice describes the problem as pertaining to the systems' magnet rundown units (MRUs), which are designed to initiate a controlled quench and turn off the magnetic field in the event of certain problems with the scanner, such as a ferromagnetic object introduced into the MRI suite. Such shutdowns are only intended for extreme emergencies and can put an MRI magnet out of commission for a week or more and cost up to $30,000 to replace lost helium, according to the website MRIQuestions.com.

In GE's case, a scanner's magnetic rundown unit may not actually be connected to the scanner, according to the FDA recall notice. In an emergency, a disconnected MRU "could delay removal of a ferrous object from the magnet, potentially resulting in life-threatening injuries," the notice said.
You can find the FDA notice HERE. You'll have to scroll through thousands of serial numbers to get to the meat of the notice:

Manufacturer Reason
for Recall
At certain sites, the MRU may not be connected to the magnet. In emergency situations, a disconnected MRU could delay removal of a ferrous object from the magnet, potentially resulting in life-threatening injuries. The MRU must be connected to the magnet at all times.
FDA Determined
Cause 2
TRAINING: Employee Error
ActionGE Healthcare sent an "Urgent Medical Device Correction" letter GEHC Ref# 60876 dated January 6, 2015 to affected consignees. The letter was addressed to Hospital Administrators / Risk Managers, Radiology Department Managers, & Radiologists. The letter described the Safety Issue, Safety Instructions, Affected Product Details, Product Correction & Contact Information. Customers were instructed to do the following: As a preventative measure, confirm that MRU is connected to the magnet by performing the following four step test on the MRU.

1. Verify the green CHARGER POWER LED is lit.


2. Depress and hold the TEST BATTERY switch for 15 seconds. The green BATTERY TEST LED should light and remain lit while the TEST BATTERY switch is depressed.


3. Place the TEST HEATER toggle switch in the A position. The green HEATER TEST LED should light. If it does not light, depress TEST HEATER LED switch to verify that the LED is functioning.


4. Place the TEST HEATER toggle switch in the B position. Green HEATER TEST LED should light. If it does not light, depress TEST HEATER LED switch to verify that the LED is functioning.



If the MRU test does not perform as described in each of the 4 steps above, GEHC strongly recommends that you stop using the system, and immediately call your GEHC representative. Customers with questions may contact their local service representative. For questions regarding this recall call 262-513-4122.
Quantity in Commerce12,968 (5,708 US, 7,260 OUS).
DistributionWorldwide Distribution - US Nationwide in all states in continental USA including DC, PR, GU, and the countries of ALBANIA, ALGERIA, ARGENTINA, AUSTRALIA, AUSTRIA, AZERBAIJAN, BAHRAIN, BELARUS, BELGIUM, BOLIVIA, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA, BRAZIL, BULGARIA, CANADA, CHILE, CHINA, COLOMBIA, COSTA RICA, CROATIA, CYPRUS, CZECH REPUBLIC, DENMARK, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, EGYPT, EL SALVADOR,K ESTONIA, FINLAND, FRANCE, FRENCH POLYNESIA, GEORGIA, GERMANY, GREECE, GUADELOUPE, GUATEMALA, GUYANA, HONDURAS, HONG KONG, HUNGARY, ICELAND, INDIA, INDONESIA, IRAN, IRELAND, ISRAEL, ITALY, JAMAICA, JAPAN, JORDAN, KAZAKHSTAN, KENYA, REPUBLIC OF KOREA, KUWAIT, LATVIA, LEBANON, LIBYAN ARAB JAMAHIRIYA, LITHUANIA, LUXEMBOURG, MACEDONIA, MALAYSIA, MALTA, MARTINIQUE, MAURITIUS, MEXICO, MOROCCO, NETHERLANDS, NEW CALEDONIA, NEW ZEALAND, NICARAGUA, NIGERIA, NORWAY, OMAN, PAKISTAN, PANAMA, PARAGUAY, PERU, PHILIPPINES, POLAND, PORTUGAL, QATAR, REUNION, ROMANIA, RUSSIA, SAUDI ARABIA, SERBIA, SINGAPORE, SLOVAKIA, SLOVENIA, SOUTH AFRICA, SPAIN, SUDAN, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND, SYRIA, TAIWAN, THAILAND, TUNISIA, TURKEY, UKRAINE , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, UNITED KINGDOM, URUGUAY, UZBEKISTAN, VENEZUELA, VIETNAM, ZAMBIA.
Oops. Did I see employee error listed as the problem? AuntMinnie's Brian Casey notes:
The company said it learned of the problem after discovering that some MRI scanners in India had been modified by service personnel or by equipment users to disable the magnet rundown unit. In addition to alerting customers to the problem, GE noted that the red magnet rundown button should only be pressed in an emergency situation.
Now why, one might ask, would anyone want to disable the MRU? Inquiring minds want to know. And did we really need the reminder that the big red button that says, "PRESS IN CASE OF EMERGENCY" should be pressed only in an emergency? Perhaps that tells us something about GE's opinion of its customers.

Mobile MRI services take note...business awaits!

ADDENDUM.....

My sources around the world are telling me this issue is the fault of GE and NOT the Indian fellows they were blaming. Here's one report:
It (the MRU) was never connected or properly installed. We can't disconnect it. So it was a GE issue. Big problem though.
More to come...This is pretty scary.

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