Feature | May 22, 2006

Agfa HealthCare Fortifies, Fuses Clinical Realm with IT Horsepower

Robert S. Pryor is responsible for the overall vision, strategy, operational implementation, manning

One of the key trends we noticed at RSNA 2005 was the increased emphasis on connectivity between imaging and information technology (IT), due in part to providers collecting a larger volume of images and scores of data that require more IT horsepower. How is Agfa striving to stay ahead of the curve in this area, including company acquisitions?
The connectivity between imaging and information technology is growing at an exponential rate.
PACS started in the 1980s as a simple system to display and store images. It featured very rudimentary workflow with a focus on the image and the radiologist. Over the years, PACS matured and expanded its functional boundaries to incorporate RIS, ADT and HIS data flow. Today, providers are seeing the emergence of true enterprise image and information solutions, combining the content and workflow of PACS, RIS, speech technology, EMR, evidence documentation and other sources of healthcare images and information.
Agfa’s strategies are focused on providing cost-efficient and effective radiology, departmental and enterprise solutions that improve healthcare delivery and results. Our approach has been one of both internal development and targeted acquisitions. Our radiology portfolio features our integrated RIS, PACS and reporting radiology IT solution as well as award-winning DX-S computed radiography (CR) digitizer, which has been designed to bring a full range of imaging exams directly to the point of care in general radiography, pediatric and emergency environments.
Today, the lines between radiology and cardiology are blurring. A CT exam, once the standard of care for many radiography applications, is fast becoming the standard of care in cardiology. Multislice CT angiography (CTA) can replace catheter angiography with its possible risks, requires less sedation time than MR imaging and overcomes certain drawbacks of ultrasound. Agfa had worked with Heartlab since 2003 but decided to acquire Heartlab in 2005. The solution allows a single view of a patient’s radiology and cardiology images, the two most image-intensive departments within hospitals. Ultimately, the solution enables information to flow more efficiently within the healthcare enterprise and facilitates management of the electronic patient record.
With Agfa’s acquisitions of healthcare IT providers such as GWI, Heartlab and Quadrat, Agfa is in a very strong position to effectively combine these IT solutions into one state-of-the-art enterprise offering.
Agfa HealthCare’s portfolio of healthcare solutions extends the frontiers of image quality, intelligent visualization and departmental workflow efficiency with award-winning strategies and solutions. Through this approach, Agfa HealthCare continues to win the confidence of customers around the world, becoming the No. 1 Electronic Medical Record (EMR) provider in Europe and confirming our position as a global leader in RIS and PACS. Agfa HealthCare is leading its partners from today’s information-based workflow solutions to tomorrow's knowledge-based care.

Agfa has moved its PACS technology beyond radiology and into the surgical arena – specifically, hospital emergency and operating rooms. How does Agfa convince freestanding outpatient surgery centers to invest in this technology, if that’s even feasible, as opposed to piggybacking to a hospital system or referring to a freestanding outpatient diagnostic imaging center?
Agfa does not believe in a ‘one information system fits all’ model. Acute-care facilities and outpatient facilities have very different needs and workflow issues. To meet these diverse needs, Agfa has image-enabled information system solutions that address the specific needs of these types of facilities.

What are some of the key challenges that loom ahead for Agfa HealthCare and how do you plan to address them and position the company for continued growth?
In radiology, we are expanding and executing with our release of IMPAX Enterprise and our new DX-S CR system. In departmental solutions, we continue to expand our Heartlab cardiology offering and in women’s care, we are expanding our portfolio with the addition of DR, still the standard of care for mammography.
We will continue to provide solutions in other image-intensive areas. This year, we are releasing our solution for molecular imaging with workflow for nuclear medicine, PET and PET/CT.
Lastly, at HIMSS, Agfa HealthCare announced its IT strategy for the North American marketplace. Central to the strategy is the planned market introduction in 2007 of ORBIS, already commercialized in Europe where it is the leading EMR for enterprise-wide healthcare informatics.
ORBIS will enable North American clinicians and administrators to support initiatives such as CPOE (computerized physician order entry), EHR (electronic health record), eRX (electronic prescription), CCR (continuity of care record) and RHIOs (Regional Healthcare Information Organizations).

What impact do you anticipate Agfa HealthCare having on the freestanding outpatient healthcare market segment (imaging, oncology and surgery) by 2010?
Agfa sees exponential growth in the outpatient healthcare segment. By 2010, we anticipate a majority of these facilities will use digital technologies to provide better patient care. We think the unique ability to customize the workflow to meet the needs of these types of facilities will make Agfa a primary choice in this segment.

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