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RSNA 2010: Innovating Innovation Innovated Innovatively

Posted Dec 09 2010 2:42pm

Huh? The definition of innovation according to Merriam Webster dictionary is:

In•no•va•tion (noun)
1. Introduction of something new;
2. A new idea, method or device

Looking back at RSNA , I have to say that there was little innovation on display. The word innovation has become so overused that its true meaning has been lost on the marketers of the world. So many booths or ads had the word “innovation” present that by the strictest definition of the word, I should have spent the entire week stunned by all the new products, ideas and methodologies. Instead, it felt like I had been here before - that 2010 was groundhog day of 2009 and there was really no true innovation, but instead repackaging of last year’s products. To be fair, my focus was on IT so my apologies to the modality vendors if they had any innovation that I missed.

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Now that doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything to see for the whole week. Merge Healthcare had the most interesting booth. Arcade video games, a bright orange Tesla sports car and a wall of candy made for an interesting booth – check out more pictures of their booth on their web site. It was more of a HIMSS-themed booth than RSNA. Had I not spoken to a colleague, I would never have guessed what the purpose was - and it’s too long a story to get into here.

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I think I was about 80% accurate from my expectations of my last blog . Here is what I noticed in Chicago:

Vendor neutral archiving was quietly displayed on many vendors’ booths. The majority of vendors proposing VNAs were PACS vendors. This is somewhat of an oxymoron isn’t it? How does any vendor claim vendor neutrality when they ARE a vendor? Ok - maybe they don’t produce the data that they are storing - so shouldn’t a VNA be called something different then? Maybe a modality neutral or PACS neutral archive? As would be expected at an imaging show, the focus was on medical imaging archiving with only a couple of vendors I saw promising more than just medical images and reports. As providers move towards consolidating their storage strategies and virtualization becomes more dominant I think we will see other vendors expand their offering to include other departmental information systems outside radiology.

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The promotion of cloud-based computing in healthcare has grown since 2009. Its presence has expanded as vendors promoted cloud-based archiving, disaster recovery, business continuity and viewing. One vendor went so far as to hang blow up clouds above their booth - quite a sight. Cloud came by many names - managed service offerings using the cloud, eHealth services and cloud-based applications were the majority. Applications focused on the clinician’s ability to view images or cloud-based reporting dominated the cloud offerings. Putting the storage aspect of PACS into the cloud is obvious but putting diagnostic reading capabilities in the cloud – now that would have been true innovation.  This will be a challenge considering the growing size of images that are being produced putting a stress on the bandwidth requirements available today.

In the Enterprise Imaging category, there were lots of vendors new and old touting their wares in the enterprise. That is, enterprise as it refers to imaging, not other clinical documents. These solutions were positioned as cloud ready, web-based, zero-footprint, mobile, enterprise-ready, iPad compatible and on and on. The vendors ranged from the traditional PACS vendors to new upstarts and some non-traditional viewers including some of the reporting vendors. The technology utilized was also as far ranging from Silverlight to Flash and JBoss. I think this is going to be an interesting area as companies vie to take a market lead in the enterprise imaging arena. Who will win, if anyone, remains to be seen.

The speed at which many companies have transitioned their technologies to the iPad was amazing. The iPad appeared on booths, in advertising, in demonstrations and in attendees’ hands. It was given away as a prize in some booths. I would hazard a guess that HIMSS will probably show the RIM Playbook if it gets out in time, otherwise the iPad will again dominate the show.

Critical test results management has become a high priority for providers and many vendors have responded with applications that now address this specific functionality. In 2009, this was offered by a couple of specialty vendors and 2010 showed that this important aspect of patient care has risen in demand and in supply. The Joint Commission’s drive to improve patient safety has positively been reflected in the number of vendors now addressing this area. In many cases, CTRM was combined with a reporting application, the number of which has also increased in visibility – many reporting systems offering web based and cloud ready solutions.

Finally, our brothers and sisters at Hitachi Medical Systems had a beautiful booth and I’m not just saying this because we are affiliated. The booth was open and airy, had lots of equipment well displayed and I particularly like the way the spotlights highlighted the modalities. The lights were far brighter than other booths and really made the equipment stand out. As a former MRI tech, I was impressed with the Oasis Open MRI – it was huge and could easily fit some of the largest patients I’ve had to deal with in the past. It completely takes claustrophobia out of the picture for the great majority, I would think. Thanks to our colleagues at HMS for their hospitality during the show. You can’t underestimate the value of having a place to sit and grab a bite to eat.

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Attendance at the show was reportedly higher than in 2009 (about 2%), but the show floor emptied at 1:30 each day, especially Tuesday when President Bill Clinton addressed the participants. Sunday as usual was pretty quiet and Monday was fairly busy for most of the day, but a far cry from years gone by.

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If you attended RSNA 2010, what stood out for you?

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