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Agfa HealthCare chief outlines strategy

Bill CorstenThere’s growing demand for Vendor Neutral Archives in the healthcare sector, and Bill Corsten (pictured), Agfa HealthCare’s new president for North America, says his organization is well-positioned to deliver the solutions that service providers need. “The PACS market has been constricting by roughly 7% a year, but the VNA market is growing by 20% annually,” he told Canadian Healthcare Technology.

Corsten joined Agfa HealthCare in September. Previously, he spent more than 23 years in healthcare IT, in radiology and healthcare IT sales, including a stint as Senior VP of Solution Sales at M*Modal. Prior to that, he worked at McKesson Corp.

For its part, Agfa HealthCare has developed enterprise information management solutions that consolidate various types of images and metadata in central archives. Agfa says the solution goes beyond the standard VNA, however, in that it doesn’t just store images and data, but also intelligently channels the appropriate pictures and information to caregivers via the electronic health record, when and where they need it.

Users of Agfa HealthCare’s Enterprise Imaging solution include the multi-site Cleveland Clinic, where the system is being used to manage images from a number of different departments to assist clinicians as they treat patients.

“When you consider enterprise-wide imaging,” said Corsten, “there are some 40 different departments that could be producing images. If you can’t access them, then you’ve got an incomplete patient record.” Such departments include radiology and cardiology, as well as pathology, gastroenterology, ophthalmology, surgery, and many others.

“There’s a growth opportunity,” said Corsten. But he added that he wants Agfa HealthCare to listen to its customers, so it delivers what the healthcare organization needs, not just what a vendor has developed. “We want to listen, so we know what they’re trying to accomplish inside their organizations,” said Corsten. “We’ve got to be customer focused.”

“It’s not a matter of where we think the market is going, but where they think it is going.”

Another priority for Agfa HealthCare will be in the area of radiography. “We’re helping customers migrate from CR to DR,” he said, noting the shift in hospitals and clinics to move away from cumbersome Computed Radiography systems to networked Digital Radiography. On this front, Agfa HealthCare is offering DR solutions that also cut radiation dose by as much as 60% for pediatric and neonatal applications.

Corsten hinted that a new Impax PACS platform, called Agility, has gained traction in global markets and is now being rolled out across North America. The new system unifies many functions that formerly required disparate solutions, including PACS, RIS, 3D imaging, dictation and reporting. It also provides a single platform for reading general radiography, mammography, cardiology, ultrasound and angiography.

As well, he said the company’s real-time location system, which makes use of TrackStar technology, is being piloted in several healthcare centres, including Loma Linda University Medical Center and Northwestern University. Agfa HealthCare is continuing to refine the application before deciding whether to commercialize it and start marketing.

Corsten said Agfa HealthCare is again in a position to “start investing in products and people” to provide leading-edge solutions to the healthcare sector. But he emphasized the importance of being ‘customer driven.’ “The customer is the priority,” he said. “We have to make sure our goals are aligned with theirs.”

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