A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC; Charleston, South Carolina) and Siemens Medical Solutions (Concord, California) have entered into a five-year, $40-million alliance that will bring leading-edge diagnostic technologies to MUSC's departments of radiology and cardiology.

The agreement will include introducing the latest technology in MUSC's Heart & Vascular Center, which brings together advanced cardiology and interventional radiology services in the same facility. Medical staff and patients at MUSC will have access to Siemens systems in areas including angiography, digital radiography, CT, MRI and PET.

"MUSC has world renowned cardiologists and radiologists. With this Siemens agreement we now have the best equipment to go with the best doctors, which makes us unique," said Michael Gold, MD, director of MUSC's Heart and Vascular Center.

As part of the alliance, MUSC and Siemens will collaborate on research and development activities. Researchers will employ technologies while MUSC's clinical experts help advance applications of diagnostic imaging. Siemens also will work closely with MUSC's clinical care teams to streamline healthcare workflow processes, anticipate clinical and patient needs within the communities it serves, and incorporate emerging technologies to support MUSC's vision for advanced patient care.

"The collaboration has allowed us earlier access to advance medical technology, whether hardware or software," said Philip Costello, MD, chair of MUSC's Department of Radiology. "We are able to apply this technology in patient care ahead of other leading institutions in the United States."

An example of Siemens technology being utilized at MUSC is the recently installed Somatom Definition dual-source CT system, which incorporates two X-ray sources and two detectors in a single scanner. MUSC was among the first five facilities in the U.S. to obtain this technology.

Through this alliance, imaging equipment will share the Siemens syngo operating platform, which has a standard user interface and enables operational and workflow improvements such as faster training of physicians and staff.

In other agreements:

Healthcare information technology company Cerner (Kansas City, Missouri) and Mortara Instrument (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), a noninvasive cardiology healthcare technology company, said they will pursue a joint engineering effort utilizing DICOM to provide full diagnostic capabilities within an electronic medical record (EMR).

The companies said that the use of the DICOM ECG standard allows the EMR to receive and present raw ECG data seconds after it has been acquired. Combining the diagnostic ECG with the EMR now opens the door for more advances in ECG, as greater EMR data can be properly utilized, they said.

The agreement enables Cerner to provide the E-Scribe ECG feature and functionality within the Millennium platform as part of PowerChart ECG to improve ECG workflow in other Cerner solutions, including PowerChart EMR, iNet for the ICU, FirstNet for the emergency room and CVNet for cardiology.

"What once took hours now only takes seconds," said J.P. Fingado, VP and general manager for Cerner. "Ultimately, patients will receive better care because now the ECG is included in the EMR, providing the physician with more complete information to make better clinical decisions."

"This standard is a logical progression to continue the integration of the noninvasive cardiology products from Mortara into the information management systems of the office and hospital," said Joe Austin, VP of Mortara. "PowerChart ECG will provide more information for the physician during ECG analysis including allergies, medications, labs and previous cardiology and non-cardiology tests for a more informed medical decision."

The DICOM standard allows for movement, reporting and viewing of data from this ubiquitous diagnostic test regardless of which ECG manufacturer's equipment was used to acquire the data. Traditionally, the electronic management of 12-lead ECGs has been realized within platforms provided by the manufacturer of the ECG acquisition device. These systems add additional IT infrastructure and hardware specifically to manipulate the workflow for acquisition and management of the 12-lead ECG.

DICOM has been in use within healthcare since the mid 1990's for diagnostic imaging in radiology and cardiology, including computed tomography, MRI, echocardiography and nuclear medicine.

Mortara develops noninvasive cardiology for innovations that are core to the company's line of ECG products, including electrocardiographs, stress exercise systems, Holter systems and data warehousing, and cardiology monitoring systems.

• Drager Medical AG & Co. KG (Irvine, California) reported that it has expanded its relationship with Masimo (also Irvine) and will integrate Masimo Rainbow SET platform as its principal pulse oximetry technology.

The Rainbow SET platform offers SET Read-Through Motion and Low Perfusion pulse oximetry plus upgradeability to add other parameters in the future. Upgrades are available for carboxyhemoglobin (carbon monoxide) and methemoglobin and others are planned for the future. Drager said it will be incorporating Masimo Rainbow SET into major acute care products. For future product developments, Drager Medical will replace its Oxisure+ oximetry with Masimo technology.

The companies also noted that the agreement constitutes a release of each other from any potential patent infringement claims relating to pulse oximetry.

Dr. Wolfgang Reim, president/CEO of Drager, said, "Masimo SET is clearly the gold standard in motion tolerant pulse oximetry technology and with its new Rainbow Technology Masimo extends the reach of its technology to new important parameters."

Drager provides solutions for acute patient care, focusing on core competencies, over a century of experience in the market, and continuous R&D investment, it says.