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Posted Mar 08 2013 9:29am

Following on the heels of  GE's Universal PACS Viewer , Agfa will announce its new Agility PACS (affectionately known as IMPAX 7 to me, anyway) at ECR 2013. Here is today's press release from Agfa HQ in Mortsel, Belgium:

- Unifies RIS, PACS, reporting, 3D, connectivity and clinical applications - Streamlined interface and intuitive features help enhance productivity - Hanging protocols, task-based workflow engines and macros for reporting meet radiologists’ specific viewing and workflow needs.

Agfa HealthCare today announces that it will showcase its work-in-progressIMPAX Agility at ECR 2013. This next generation IMPAX is a completely unified imaging management platform designed to achieve clinical productivity, improve serviceability and streamline integration efforts across the enterprise. This comprehensive solution redesigns capabilities typically found in a Radiology Information System (RIS), Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS), reporting and connectivity into a single system.

Maximizing the potential of today's imaging technologies
The imaging modalities used today - such as MRI, cardio-CT and mammography - stretch the capabilities of the hospital's PACS infrastructure while also demanding more effort from the radiologists themselves.
IMPAX Agility solves these challenges by providing a fully integrated solution that offers medical imaging professionals access to relevant and varied clinical data in one platform. Its streamlined interface and intuitive features make it user-friendly, enhancing the radiologist's productivity. IMPAX Agility offers support for a broad range of diagnostic areas. It includes dedicated tools for general radiology, mammography, cardiology, ultrasound and angiography. The zero-footprint, Web 2.0 viewer, based on Agfa HealthCare's XERO visualization platform, provides convenient access to results on a variety of the most popular web browsers. Technology that matches radiologists' individual workflows and needsIMPAX Agility uses hanging protocols, which present studies and images in a consistent manner, even from different modalities. These hanging protocols were built based on real radiologist behavior, for an automated workflow that reduces redundant, manual tasks. A 3D imaging engine offers new, intuitive ways to explore anatomy and pathology without requiring a separate application. Axial, coronal, and sagittal planes, for example, can be combined to constitute a 3D view of the body from any perspective. The 3D engine can also render MIP/MPR/3D in any viewport. Macros in reports provide an exam-based template structure for the radiologist. This both speeds up the reporting workflow and helps avoid omissions. Smoother workflow supports enhanced productivity and best practicesPowerful task-based workflow engines help to ensure that all users follow the appropriate steps for each procedure and circumstance, and for their own workflow. This supports the hospital in meeting regulatory obligations and workflow best practices, as well as improving communication. Image management across healthcare functionsIMPAX Agility has been successfully deployed at the AZ Sint-Rembert hospital, in Torhout, Belgium. Radiologists there found the image display, workflow management and personalized settings supported their efforts to provide top patient care. "IMPAX Agility has enabled us to improve our service and increase productivity. With IMPAX Agility we can cope with the challenge of increasingly complex imaging and software developments, such as cardio- or angio-CT, which can be easily integrated. We are convinced Agfa HealthCare will be our partner on our path to the future of medical imaging" says Dr. Biebau, Medical Director and Head of Radiology. "We are very excited to show the investments we are making in the IMPAX product line with IMPAX Agility at ECR 2013," comments James Jay, Vice President and Global head of Radiology IT, Agfa HealthCare. "It is much more than a PACS; it is an intuitive platform with an innovative approach to workflow optimization, which supports our vision of image management across the healthcare continuum."By "Work in Progress, Agfa means that this has been in the pipeline for several years. I know because I and two of my partners have been able to help with it here and there, although we are under NDA and can't talk about it. (Am I allowed under the NDA to say that I'm under the NDA?)

What I can tell you is that, like GE, Agfa has seen fit to copy AMICAS' offerings from the early to mid 2000's, which you can gather from reading between the lines above. Agility will provide a simpler, yet more powerful interface as compared to the earlier impact of earlier IMPAX's. Hanging protocols will be a welcome addition, something IMPAX has never done well if at all. But despite my cynicism, Agility will actually be a very worthy competitor in this space, and while it offers many of the advantages pioneered (or borrowed or lifted or whatever) by AMICAS 10+ years ago, it puts some new and quite powerful spins on what it does, and I think it will be very favorably received. I, for one, would love to have it in place NOW. I'm told this is possible, but then I would have to deal with angry partners who would pine for the "old days". That's why Moses had to wander the desert for 40 years...

I'll report my "hands on" experience as soon as possible.

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