Canadian hospital tests Flash-based web PACS viewer

The cost of viewing PACS images is about to come down--way down.

Canadian software firm Client Outlook is testing its eUnity Flash-based viewing program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, allowing clinicians to view diagnostic images in a web browser anywhere inside or outside the hospital rather than forcing them to go to a $20,000 PACS workstation.

"Not only is it something we don't have to install software [for] anywhere, but it's delivering those high-resolution images at an almost real-time speed--and that's not an easy thing, technically, to do," Sunnybrook PACS Administrator Andrew Volkening told the Canadian Press, reports Canadian Healthcare Technology.

"It's really just about making it easy to view medical images and the result can be tremendous," says Steve Rankin, CEO of Waterloo, Ontario-based Client Outlook.

According to Canadian Healthcare Technology, Sunnybrook conducts about 300,000 imaging examinations a year and creates as many as 18 million digital images for test results. But the hospital has only about 250 PACS workstations and many of them in underutilized areas, so the stations in busier locations often have long waits. "You spend quite a bit of time at a workstation," Volkening explains. "Our average CT now is over 600 images, which is much larger than what it used to be, and when you're going through a CT image it's time-consuming. It can take you 20 minutes and someone else might be waiting behind you."

A system like eUnity would allow physicians to access such images from standard computers in the operating room or anywhere else, he added.

eUnity, which received Canadian regulatory approval in September, still is in testing at Sunnybrook, but Volkening says many clinicians are clamoring for a house-wide rollout. The software does not have FDA clearance for use in the United States, but Client Outlook says it is working toward that goal. Additionally, Research in Motion featured a mobile version of eUnity at the Los Angeles launch of the software development kit for the BlackBerry Tablet OS last month for the forthcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.

To learn more:
- see this Canadian Healthcare Technology story

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