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An Easy and Foolproof Method of Vendor Selection

April 17, 2008
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OK, so that headline is a teaser. You certainly didn’t think I was going to suggest that there was such a thing, did you?

I may be especially cynical right now, after spending the last several days trying to make sensible economic comparisons between two PACS vendors whose offerings are like apples and pastrami.

If you compare our organization to similar ambulatory facilities, I think of us as well ahead of the technological adoption curve. The one place where we’re laggards is in the area of PACS.

This in spite of the fact that we do plain film imaging at eight different locations, mammography at five, CT and MRI at three and have radiologists reading at two. We did about 85,000 billed procedures last year (which, by the way, is not the same as the count of PACS “exams”, as I’m learning.)

In addition to reading all the stuff we do, our radiologists also read for a local hospital. This hospital doesn’t have PACS yet either, so a couple of years ago, in the spirit of cooperation, the greater good of mankind, and not ticking off the radiologists, we undertook a joint effort to select a common PACS system.

For a number of reasons (none of which I’m bitter about), that effort ended badly. By the time we got out from under some other projects our PACS initiative was delayed by a year or so.

We came out of that whole experience with strong positive feelings about Philips, who had acquired the old Stentor iSite product. We had advocated for them pretty vigorously as the vendor of choice for the joint PACS.

We also liked an innovative little company named Dynamic Imaging, even though I had never heard of them when we first started shopping.

If you’ve read some of my earlier posts you might remember that we have an important vendor relationship with GE- subsequent to their purchase of IDX. We use their Centricity Business (Flowcast) practice management, and their Centricity RIS/IC radiology information system.

Prior to Philips’ acquisition of Stentor and GE’s acquisition of IDX, IDX and Stentor were in bed together in the PACS space. In fact, to this day the iSite product that Philips sells sits on top of an IDX-developed relational database.

Philips is in the process of rewriting that whole backend; the “de-IDXed” product is already on the street in Europe, but they won’t release it here until it shakes out a bit. Their plan is to convert all their customers eventually- your guess is as good as mine when that might happen.

The thing that most differentiates Philips in the PACS market, however, is their pricing/delivery/support model. They have adopted Stentor’s strategy of providing only turnkey systems (with the exception of reading stations), providing all the hardware support and upgrades, and charging for it on a per click basis- $X.XX per “exam”.

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