Consolidation in the imaging world is often viewed as problematic—but shifting market forces can create opportunities to improve patients’ access to care, points out Kevin Collins, vice president of product management with Sectra. “The imaging market is really polarizing,” he notes. “More and more large hospital networks are acquiring outpatient imaging centers—essentially, they’re reabsorbing the radiology groups and centers that split away from them back in the nineties. The independent groups that are surviving are those that are able to serve multiple organizations that can acquire images on their own, but need people to read them.”
Historically, access to lifesaving exams like screening mammograms has been limited by the financial constraints of organizations that can’t afford dedicated radiologists. But as the remaining independent radiology groups extend their offerings over ever-wider geographic areas, that paradigm is poised to change. “There are a number of smaller organizations that are thinking of offering mammography now,” Collins says, “especially OB/GYN practices that decide they want to get a full-field digital system. The only thing holding them back from offering screening mammograms is the ability to get those exams read on a timely basis.”
PACS in the Cloud
Fortunately, as cloud technology continues to mature, the types of software that can be delivered over the internet is on the rise. That was the driving force behind a new collaboration between Sectra and IDS that leverages IDS’ cloud-based workflow technology to deliver Sectra’s Breast Imaging PACS. CloudFlex, as the new offering is known, is designed specifically to address the needs of low-volume mammography sites by giving them the customized tools they need to manage screening exams efficiently and effectively.
“Teleradiology has been around for some time, but the mammography piece has been left by the wayside,” observes Erik Wagner, managing director of enterprise solutions for IDS. “But as smaller offices and clinics add women’s health components to their offerings, the need for telemammography solutions has grown