Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chicago News

For me, the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) annual conference begins at the airport in Dallas. I always run into a group of folks from our industry catching Chicago-bound flights to attend the same meeting as me. Some people complain about RSNA, but I love it. It's great to catch up on who is doing what and where they're doing it, as well as reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. 

Our industry is a relatively small one, with only about 700 or so companies exhibiting at RSNA each year. It's always interesting to me who is working for whom, as people tend to move around among different vendors every few years or so. I'm probably somewhat of an exception, having only worked for two firms (Philips Healthcare and Carestream-back when it was still owned by Eastman Kodak) prior to starting OTech. 

Another thing I find fascinating about RSNA is the use of the latest buzz words at the meeting. For example, what exactly does cloud storage mean? What are the requirements? What are the advantages? For medical imaging, what sense does it make to have a cloud storage solution that archives images in a non-DICOM format? Or to offer a solution that does not have any real life-cycle management? 

Another of the favorite buzz words being bandied about is dose reporting. Please explain what sense is there in designing a CT system with a dose report that consists of a screen-saved DICOM image? Unless, of course, you're looking forward to buying sophisticated optical character recognition software and paying someone to validate its output for every image/exam/study in order to put patient dose information into a shareable, electronic format. 

My current favorite is Vendor Neutral Archive. Unfortunately, most of the offerings that use this label are not capable of archiving MPEG's, documents, or the new CDA and CCR longitudinal records. 

I long ago learned to document my requirements, check out a product's specifications, and see if it met my needs. Buzz words are great for catching your attention, but that's about all they're useful for accomplishing. 

And never use buzz words in an RFP. If you ask for a vendor neutral archive, or dose reporting, or cloud storage—you're going to get a Yes. Specify precisely how you want to use these devices, with exact requirements, and extensive technical detail. For example, storing dose reports should be done using DICOM Structured Reports, according to the most current radiation exposure monitoring profile. 

Sifting through the hype, peering through the smoke, and looking behind the mirrors is part of the fun of attending the RSNA meeting. Make sure that when it comes time to add a new system or piece of equipment to your practice, you don't get buzz sawed by buzz words.