Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Matter of Trust

It seems like I have been asked to sign more non-disclosure agreements (NDA’s) before companies are willing to discuss what they consider product futures than ever before. Usually I just go ahead and sign them because the reality is: a) If I disclose anything that is considered proprietary or confidential I am pretty much out of business anyway and; b) I have nothing of any great value the companies can come and take that is of value if I get sued and they win. This seems to be extending out to my clients as well though, including needing to sign an NDA to get expanded answers to questions posed in an RFP response. That, IMHO, is just plain wrong.

Companies are putting way too much weight on NDA's these days than they even should. From a customer's standpoint it's more an integrity issue than anything else- in essence saying up front "we don't trust you"- and frankly if you don't trust the clients to provide them with information they need to make informed, objective decisions then why should the clients trust you with $2M+ of their cash and the next five years of your system in place at their site? It's a trust issue- if you don't trust us then why should we trust you?

I fully understand the need for NDA's when you are laying out the five year product development road map relative to new features, functionality and partnerships but not to discuss standard T's and C's that you know every single competitor already has a copy of. This also holds true to discuss more mundane things like where you lie with developing a VNA. That isn't road map stuff. This is stuff we ask of every vendor and is one of my mega pet peeves I also outlined in my last article on AM. While we aren’t asking vendors to fully open the kimono I also don't want to be charged to see a lil' leg either....

Whenever I’m asked to sign an NDA the clock is ticking and someone is paying for it. I usually provide the first hour of discussion with a potential client for free but if you want me to sign an NDA….tick, tick, tick…

The reality is if I want to find out the companies’ roadmap I need to go no further than RSNA. I just look for the guy who took the shirt he bought at Wal Mart out of the package less than an hour ago, has a tie that sits 2” below the unbuttoned top button of the shirt and still looks uncomfortable. That would typically be the engineer who the company lets out of their cubbie once a year going to RSNA as their “reward”.

I recall an event several years back with a larGE company that still has me smiling. I walked into the booth wearing a prominently displayed press badge and was asked by the engineer if I had any questions. So I asked a few, and he answered everything perfectly. The more I asked, the more he spilled his guys- I mean answered. He must have loved interacting with someone who was close to his level because when he saw I knew a little bit about what he was talking about the more engaging his behaviors became. In the span of 20 minutes he has laid out the next three plus years of the company’s roadmap for me. I thanked him for his time then went to locate one of the big Kahunas I had known for years, starting out my discussion with “I don’t want anyone to get in trouble because what happened was done innocently and without knowledge of the ramifications sharing this data, but you may want to temper the enthusiasm of a few of your people.” The more I discussed what was presented the more the blood drained from this individuals face until he looked like Casper the friendly ghost. True to my word I didn’t publish anything or even discuss it with anyone. The next day when I went back in the booth no one said a word, instead directing me to the marketing people who gave me the same shtick I could have obtained from a press kit…. If you want the truth, talk to engineers. They are truly babes in the woods and a veritable font of knowledge as well which is why I much prefer to talk to them instead of anyone else. You want hype? Talk to marketing or sales. You want the truth? Talk to engineers. Just don’t betray their trust because like babes in the woods they don’t know any better.

Billy Joel sang about it being “A Matter of Trust” in relationships back in 1986 but his outlook from nearly a decade earlier was probably much more accurate in his song “She’s Always A Woman.” at least when it deals with women. Just call me the cynic I am….I was surprised to read that “She’s Always A Woman” is actually a love song that Billy wrote for his then wife, Elizabeth., even though I, like others misinterpreted the words as being misogynistic or sarcastic. Perhaps that is just because I can relate to the lyrics and misogynist emotions oh so well but, alas, I digress. Elizabeth had taken over management of Billy's career, and was able to put his financial affairs in order after Billy had signed some bad deals and contracts. She was a tough and savvy negotiator who could "wound with her eyes" or "steal like a thief," but would "never give in." Because of her tough-as-nails negotiating style, many business adversaries thought she was "unfeminine," but to Billy, she was always a woman. Despite that Billy and Elizabeth eventually divorced in 1982, with Christy Brinkley and others added to the list of women in his life thereafter.

The bottom line is that trust is what is important in relationships, not NDA’s so please stop asking my clients and I to sign NDA’s unless we get a full kimono shot for at least 10 seconds. Etta James sums it up so wonderfully in her song “Trust in Me”. Give it a listen:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

And Justice for All?

I’m due in court in just under three hours to address child support issues. No, I am not a deadbeat dad. I’ve never missed a single child support payment since August 2002 and have paid for virtually everything my kids have wanted or needed since then from $117.00 Nike Shox sneakers to $39.95 Hollister jeans to dermatologist appointments on down …all while I shop at garage sales and thrift stores to afford clothes on my ever fattening body. But hey ya gotta do what ya gotta do and I don’t regret doing a single thing for either of my kids. I also made sure their colleges were paid via the Florida Pre-Paid College Plan that I started when they were just starting kindergarten. God forbid my babies be saddled down with ten years worth of college loan payments like I was.

So a deadbeat dad? Not hardly. My ex and I also share custody 50/50 so my kids are with me more than just a day or two a week when it’s convenient. One week with mom followed by one week with me, but they are always bouncing back and forth between us even on our weeks “off” and that’s fine with us both. After all, the only thing that is different from their living arrangement as compared with others is they have two homes they are welcome in, not one…

Why the court date then? Our divorce decree states that child support on the kids ends when they graduate high school which our oldest son did the end of May. We both expected my legal financial obligation on son #1 would end then. So did it? No. The courts want all sorts of documentation before they would play Roberto Duran and proclaim “No mas!”. I gave them what they asked. They promptly asked for more. I gave them more- and they still they asked for more. I filed, paid, filed some more, paid some more, then got a laundry list that was a mile long of yet more documentation they STILL wanted even though the decree was pretty much in black and white. This dragged on for two months past my date of “No mas!” until I finally got tired and said “No mas!”. Keep in mind my youngest graduates high school next May as an International Baccalaureate student no less (two in college at the same time- pray for me- or better yet, just send money) so by the time we get through all this both will probably have been graduated. I wrote e-mails, sent certified letters, and explained to whomever would listen the circumstances surrounding this situation (few would) until I was blue in the face only to be met with a “Notice of Delinquency” from the courts three weeks ago that this scumbag dad owed over $1000 in back support that I really didn’t owe. All I could do is shake my head. My ex did the same.

My ex and I jointly agreed what was reasonable back in 2002 but apparently the mediator we had write up our decree didn’t write it up exactly as it was supposed to be written so hi-ho hi-ho it’s off to court I go, documents in hand hoping this paperwork will keep me from having Bubba as my dinner partner tonight and me becoming his dessert. Thankfully my ex and I maintain a good relationship post-divorce, including her subsequent remarriage a few years back, and we jointly talk through things that involve our kids. Obviously the courts don’t necessarily agree with this though and want War and Peace in documentation from financial statements to child support guidelines filled out. All we wanted to do is take the 1980’s Honda approach- We Make it Simple- but with budget cuts affecting the courts they seem to feel the need to waste the judges time on something both parties agree to. Hey, whatever it takes…Just know we wanted to make it easy- the agreed upon support when we divorced divided by two equals child support for one.

So I doff my usually daily work attire of gym shorts and tee (be jealous- very jealous) for a shirt and tie in 10 minutes, practice being politically correct yet again (I’ve had to be twice today already and it’s killing me. I’m well past my daily quota- for that matter my weekly quota- and not sure how long I can hold out. “Yes, your honor, we did discuss this with the bozos who work in…..I mean those individuals who assist you in the domestic division.” “No, your honor, they did not help except to suggest I hire a paralegal at a cost of $500 to $750 or an attorney at $1000 to fill out the necessary paperwork- all to save a fraction of that per month.” “No, your honor, the county law library was no help and county budget cuts have put Pro Se litigants like myself who try to do it without any costly third party legal help basically on the outside looking in…” Bite your tongue, Mike…..bite your tongue…

So the bottom line is if you don’t see me posting here or on AuntMinnie in a while write to the PACSman in care of the Seminole County Jail. That’s where I’ll be…Also the more goodies you can send with your letter the happier Bubba will be too, cuz I make a lousy dessert.

Wish me luck.

It lasted all of three minutes. No, that not the last time I made whoopie- I'm good for at least four, maybe even five minutes there if I recall correctly- but today's court case. Even my fortune cookie at lunch was correct "Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment."

My ex showed up, we walked in the conference room and were sworn in. I had hopes for Judge Judy, Judge Alex, Judge Mathis, Judge Joe Brown, or Judge Lynn Toler but got Judge Maybelline instead. Just as well- she was short, sweet, and very to the point.

A quick statement summarizing my objection to the notice of delinquency was made and then all the questions were directed to my ex. "Does he owe you money?" "No." Is the back amount the courts states what is due you correct?" "No." "Are you in agreement that he owes you no money?" "Yes" I bet the judge asked my ex six ways to Jesus if I owed any money and every answer came back "He doesn't owe me any money." Thankfully my ex was honest because I wasn't asked squat and it seemed that whatever she said was golden with the judge and whatever I had said, if I had said anything at all, would probably have been negated. It brought me back to Genesis all over again where it was all Adam's fault and none of Eve's but alas I digress. Florida is also a highly mom-centric state so ....Thankfully logic prevailed here. When we were finishing up there was this unstated look on the judge's face like "Well this was a fine waste of time." We even addressed the fact that child support on love child #2 ends in May of next year instead of 2013 like the mediator wrote it up anticipating it might take my IB smart student 6 years just to finish high school (as if- the kid is a freaking genius as is #1 son as well). Keep in mind this is all court mandated child support. Like most parents today I'll probably be supporting my kids until they are out of college and well on their own but I do it with pleasure just as most others do the same as well.

So no jail for me, no banjo music playing, and no Bubba joining me in my cell for dinner saying with his toothless grin "You sure do got a purty mouth. You’re gonna do some praying for me boy!" It's time instead to properly celebrate with a good friend of mine of the proper gender ..but not this week. This is my week with the boys...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm Incensed!

Those who know me know there are a lot of things that incense me. At the top of the list are women with entitlement issues, one that is so prevalent in my age group it rankles the mind. That is also one of the primary reasons I remain single nine years post-divorce. Don’t get me wrong, I’m met some very interesting people along the way but the “You’re lucky to have me” and “I deserve only the very best and will settle for nothing less” attitudes I just can’t deal with. It’s about having an anti-narcissistic attitude, living life instead as it comes instead of expecting life to take care of you along the way.

Included in my long and varied list of things that incenses me are people who refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. This is something I have drummed into my kids time and again. It’s not bad to make a mistake- if anything it’s good, especially if you learn from it- but above all you need to accept responsibility for your actions.

I’ve been dealing in PACS for nearly three decades now and have seen and heard it all. In three decades I can count on one hand the number of times a vendor has said “It’s our fault, we accept responsibility for it, and we will make it right. “ In contrast, I need two hands to count the number of times I have said that in the past month alone. Maybe I’m just more screwed up than everyone else, but hey, at least I acknowledge it.

Standards, or a lack thereof, are responsible for most of the serious issues we face in PACS today. Yes, we have DICOM, HL-7, and now IHE, not to mention the ACR Standards and others but is adherence to them mandatory? No. Are there penalties that are enforceable if these “standards” aren’t followed? No. Do I blame the vendors? No. True, few vendors will try and get around saying they support the “standards” but the level of adherence varies widely. Everyone says they support DICOM, but whereas Baskin Robbins has (or at least had) a mere 31 flavors, DICOM has 31,000 flavors that can be embraced all that require a conformance statement to interpret just how they support it.

So why am I getting on my high horse again? I just faced this with “make it work” situation yet again in trying to establish a vendor neutral archive (VNA) for one of my clients. I asked two major vendors the same exact question and both came back with nearly the same answer- we can’t do it but hey, it’s not our fault. Yes, we have proprietary software. Yes, it will be a while before we open up our kimono to others. But then everyone does it so….. And oh yeah it’s not our fault…there is no requirement that dictates we had to do this so we didn’t. And you know what? They are right.

I thought implementing a VNA would be a fairly simple, straightforward task. Wrong…The vendors say “We want to do this- we really do- but it’s not our fault we can’t” The latest rationale I was given as to why a vendor couldn’t share what they call “our data” (but really belongs to the customers) is that “until the IHE makes some headway with the MIMA (Multiple Image Manager/Archive), these issues will be very real world challenges that limit interoperability.” O.K., I fully understand it now- it’s not your fault, it’s IHE’s fault.

But IF the IHE DID make headway with MIMA (which sounds like something your kids would call their grandmother, by the way) and you didn’t follow the guideline (not a standard) then whose fault would it be then? IHE’s? Nope. The vendors? Nope. Huh? Once again vendors have no legal requirement to follow standards because no one enforces standards.

What about moral and ethical requirements? Please don’t go there. The vendors will claim buyers don’t have to buy a system from a vendor who doesn’t support standards but then frankly the truth is we wouldn’t be buying ANYTHING now because to date there isn’t a single ^*&(%#$ vendor in the market who supports VNA standards. Why? Well for one it’s because no true standards for VNA’s exist and even if they did there is nothing enforcing their use. This will change by RSNA with a few pending announcements from a few progressive companies but still…it’s sad that we have gotten to this sorry state…

Rarely will a vendor ever admit it’s their fault even if it clearly is. But in this case it’s not their fault. It’s everyone’s fault and no one’s fault. We all share the blame. When “standards” like DICOM, HL-7 and IHE were developed we thought they had to be adhered to. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine support of them they would be made optional or that there be so many ways to both support it and not support it at the same time. We never demanded that standards be developed. Instead we allowed them to be developed by the same wolves that guarded the henhouse. And don’t hand me that bull that we had to make the standards open or no one would support it. Someone should have stood up like my father did 35 years ago when I wanted to come in at 3 a.m. and he wanted me home by 1. “My house, my rules”. Guess what? I was home by 1. Thirty five years later I too have turned into my father as well saying the same thing to my own kids. Guess what? They follow the rules…and dad is up above smiling at me too…

We trusted. No, we weren’t lied to, we just weren’t told the entire story. Mom used to say a lie by omission is still a lie but…but what if we didn’t know what to ask? It’s like that guy on Real TV- “Are you on parole?” No.” “We just ran your profile- you are on probation. Why did you lie to us?” “You asked if I was on parole, not probation.” It’s a matter of semantics. “Do you support IHE?” “Yes.” “Do you follow the IHE protocols for...?” “Well, um…..”The answer no doubt can and will be completely different.

So what now? We require. We demand. We add contract language that very specifically states what we want and need- in no uncertain terms. Fred Astaire died in 1987 so unless you are Singing in the Rain please save the tap dancing for somewhere else… Nebulous words like could, would, and should, need to be replaced with can, will, and does. Timelines are established with significant penalties for not meeting them. And nothing, but nothing, proprietary can or will ever be used in the system design.

We have trusted too long and been hurt by our trusting ways. It’s time we took back the night.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

10 weeks

Authors Note: PACS-related blog posts will resume in a day or so, but I really felt the need to get this up tonight…for me if no one else.

I have often wondered how I would react if I woke up and found out I had lost one of my sons or worse, that knew I was about to lose one of my children and was basically powerless to do anything about it. Josh and Lisa Hunter, whom I wrote about two blog posts back, learned this today as they lost their precious 5 year old daughter Ava to GBM, the most aggressive form of cancer in children just 10 short weeks after she was diagnosed with it. Josh hoped he'd have 18 months to fight this battle. Instead he had no time at all to even start his plan of attack. In 10 short weeks Ava went from playing with her cousins to turning her world and that of her family completely upside down. The cancer was a vicious enemy. Almost eight weeks after she had the primary tumor removed from her brain it grew back bigger than before. All the doctors could do was to install shunts to relieve the growing pressure but in the end the insidious disease ended this child’s life before it really had a chance to start.

While we all grieve for Ava this child has changed the lives of everyone around her in the process. Josh’s blog,, went from 50 hits per day to nearly 11,000 hits per day with the vast majority of those people checking in on the progress of Ava and nearly all keeping her in their prayers. His blog chronicled the journey of a man and his wife who never surrendering hope of their faith when things looked hopeless and it seemed as though God had abandoned them. Josh's blog post relating to his daughter's passing, written through tears in the wee hours of the morning, is unquestionably the single most amazing piece of writing I have ever read.

When Pastor Vernon Rainwater announced Ava’s passing at the 6 p.m. service tonight and you could see, hear, and feel his pain. You could also see the tears running down the faces of the worship team as they sang the final song of the service. You could feel everyone’s pain. Yet somewhere in all this craziness I felt both power and hope. Right now though I’m just numb so I can only imagine how the Hunter family feels.

I had a discussion about this situation with someone last week whose response I found somewhat incredulous at first. The comment went:

I think they are lucky, actually. They get to make sure their little girl knows she is loved, knows that there is nothing her mom and dad would not do to help her live to the fullest, despite that it might mean less than forever. Some parents simply wake up to find their once healthy child dead and never get that chance... only to live with regret and remorse for deeds done and not-done.

Lucky? Not hardly…But it did get me thinking- is one situation worse that the other? Is finding a child you loved here today and gone tomorrow be it through an auto accident, SIDS, suicide or any number of ways “better” than watching the child die before your eyes and being impotent to do anything about it? Both scenarios are hideous and heart wrenching for sure. In between the "bad times" Josh and Lisa had time to spend with Ava and that in itself was a blessing. She was alert, cognizant, and they got to make every remaining second count. For me, though, I’ll take quick over prolonged any day. Thankfully, at least not yet, I haven’t had to deal with my own children’s deaths, yet I have dealt with people very close to me both going quickly and dealing with a prolonged situation so I know how it is, at least for me. Like the parents of SIDS children I also how it feels to be investigated by the police and DCF for a scenario that was completely out of my control. Being accused of something you had nothing to do with at all really sucks, yet it took me a long time to realize they were just doing their job and they didn’t like it any more than I did.

I lost my mom to lung cancer at the age of 62 . Mom was a career politician so talking was her life. In May Mom got to be forgetful more often than not and went to the doctor. A chest X-ray was done and found lung cancer. By August the found the cancer had metasticized to her brain and she quickly lost her ability to communicate. The last few months were sheer hell for her yet thankfully the end was reasonably quick with what was considered her “life” coming to a close in early December.

Dad was hospitalized for his annual bout of pneumonia just before RSNA 2002 at the age of 84. He was due to be discharged the Monday of RSNA, and looked great on Saturday night when I said goodbye to him. I got a call late Monday night about Dad and on Tuesday I was flying home to find him in the ICU on death’s door. This iron man passed away just a few short days later, but not before taking my hand, squeezing it, and mouthing the words “Help me” and knowing I couldn’t. And if you don’t think his words haunt me every single solitary day, think again. I can only imagine how Josh and Lisa felt when Ava looked at them the same way- and knew there was nothing they could do. The difference here is in this situation she had her whole life ahead of her while dad was near the very end of his… In situations like that you simply have to acknowledge the decision to live or die is in God’s hands, not mine.

I have also had very close friends whose children have died as well- some losing pregnancies that were far along, others babies, and while others as old as teens. All you can do is grieve with them just as I will grieve for Ava.

There is no logic here in my book. While Josh and Lisa may have had more years with Ava than someone whose child may have passed away at a much younger age that can also make saying goodbye that much harder too...especially when you look at the video posts Josh put up a few weeks back and it seemed like she had this thing beat. How do you also explain to a 5 year old that she is going to die when you don’t even have the answers to that yourself? Both are incredibly sad situations though and equally difficult for the parties.

I've always said before I get the thumbs up or thumbs down from God he and I are going to sit down over a pitcher of beer or two and some wings talk about things I don't understand. The death of a child at any age is but one of them.
We all are in God’s hands and our lives are shaped by the situations and how we react to them. Death is the final chapter in our life on Earth but just the beginning for those who believe in Eternal life with God. At the risk of sounding trite Josh, Lisa, Ava and all those whom this little girl touched were indeed lucky, because this little girl who was loved her entire life gave us back more love in the last 10 short weeks of her life than most people experience in a lifetime.

Please keep Josh, Lisa, their 12 year old son Noah, Pastor Joel and Becky and all Hunter family in your prayers. Most importantly though show those in your life the love the deserve, be it a simple phone call or an extended hug and vow to never ever live with regret and remorse for deeds done and not-done. You never know if- or when- when you’ll get another chance…

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We’re #1!! So are we!! Us too!!

I got an e-mail from Imaging Director the other day who asked me what seemed to be a simple question “In your opinion who are the top 5 PACS vendors in the marketplace today?” I wish the answer were as simple as the question.

In the PACS marketplace everyone either is number one or has been number one at some point in time. I kid you not. Just look at their ads. Hertz has nothing on the medical imaging field by saying they are number one while Avis just tries harder. The companies who do rankings, and there are several of them not just one or two, exist basically to sell reports that show how the individual vendors were chosen as #1. How many of the bottom ten vendors do you think buy the reports? I would say few, but one of the fun facts of rankings is that you can be in the top five in one area and bottom ten in another. In some cases the same company can be ranked both high and low.

I’ll use KLAS as an example here but KLAS by no means is unique. The same can be said for companies like Frost and Sullivan, various on line and print journals who give out awards for areas like “Top Connected” Readers Choice” and even individual states who hand out awards to constituencies residing there by “fastest growing”, “top revenue”, and my personal favorite, the “emerging elite”. Here’s where it gets tricky. Awards like “fastest growing” are often based on percentage revenue increases from the last 5 years while top revenue winners have the largest dollar amount revenue growth over the same 5 year period. This helps the smaller vendors but all but excludes the majors. After all going from $5M in sales to $10 M in sales is a 100% increase while going from $500M in sales to $550M (which in this market is actually pretty good) is a mere 10%. Never do the rankings take into account things like average size of sale (One GE Centricity® sale can equal 15 Intelerad IntelePACS® sales, so if you go by dollars is that really fair?), the sale net price (again, if sales are up 27% but net margins down 42% are you really making money?) , the size, number and names of the vendor’s clients provided to the company ((ever seen a bad image at RSNA?) , “gimmes” a.k.a. “We’ll throw in our PACS at no charge IF you buy the MRI and 3 US’s that you are looking at”., and a host of others. When you look at more “independent” ranking systems you have to know (but have no way of really knowing) how the respondent felt on the day they filled out their evaluation on the vendor as well. I liken this to Ruth Graham, Billy Graham’s wife and soul mate being asked by Barbara Bush if as a Christian, she had ever contemplated divorce. Barbara explained, "Her answer, was, 'Divorce? No. Murder? Yes.'" It all depends on how you feel any given day how you will respond and a day where the system is not cooperating is NOT a good day for the vendor to have the report filled out, especially if the number of respondents on that particular system is considerably more finite than others.

I do not mean to pick on KLAS but when I look at the 2009 rankings found at I just shake my head. GE is both #1 and #10; Merge is #4 and #11. Sure these are different products but….is GE not GE? The #1 product in the large hospital market has been #1 for several years and is the old Dynamic Imaging product. Isn’t it time the DI product got integrated with the #10 rated GE Centricity PACS? After all GE did but Dynamic Imaging back in October 2007- and even a company the size of GE can integrate a product in that amount of time. I don’t recall Philips having a Philips/Stentor and Philips/Sectra ratings for three years (through 2008), post-Stentor acquisition but then what do I know. Hopefully this will be the last year we see dual GE postings. KLAS, are you listening? GE are you?

And Merge’s #4 and #11 ranking both say AMICAS. Which is correct? More importantly, though, since when has Merge/AMICAS been a major player in the 200 bed and up hospital market? And how many PACS has Cerner sold in ANY market let alone 200 bed and up except as part of the Millennium® Suite of products. And while DR’s Unity® PACS is good, its main focus hasn’t traditionally been the 200 bed and up where it surprised everyone in the #6 position but in the 200 bed marketplace where it ranked #2. I bet the folks at Siemens are slitting their wrists being ranked below lowly Cerner but they are probably the only other ones besides me who question these “rankings”.

What is sad is that hospitals more often than not use these rankings to pick the top 3-4 PACS to look at. Is that fair? No. Is it right? No. Is it smart? No. But since when has right, fair, and smart had to do anything with decisions made in the healthcare environment. More often than not the decision on a vendor of choice or VOC is made BEFORE the candidates to evaluate are chosen but that is another blog for another day.

I find it amazing that last year Siemens who ranked low again in KLAS in PACS received the 2010 North American Frost & Sullivan Award for Technology Leadership of the Year for their CT. Hey Siemens, your PACS really sucks but your CT is #1? Why just 6 short years ago the company got two awards for its PACS from F&S- Frost & Sullivan Awards for Product Line Strategy Leadership and Service Differentiation Innovation- and that was when their PACS really did suck. The new syngo® is actually much better than the old SIENET® and yet it ranks below Cerner…Go figure.

Now let’s look at corporate stability. Aspyra, which was recently acquired by the Orion Healthcare Ventures for a sum slightly more than what most GE executives pay for their lunch, was ranked higher in KLAS rankings than Fuji, Brit Systems, GE Centricity PACS- IW (#1 in the large over 200 bed market) Carestream, Agfa and Siemens. The company that had once traded in the mid $20’s just a year ago is now at $0.10 with an earnings per share (EPS) of (-$50.50). That is minus $50.50 for the uninitiated. Even Merge wasn’t that bad (sigh). My thoughts on Merge will be its own post one day when I grow a bigger set as they hover at around $2.50, ostensibly flat stock-wise this year despite several major acquisitions of note including the purchase of AMICAS.

O.K., back to Aspyra. I don’t care how bad the other six companies suck they can’t be worse than Aspyra at least from a stability standpoint. The company never set the world on fire from a sales standpoint either- consistently <$10M in sales so what’s the big deal here? Three notches higher than #1 in large scale PACS? I don’t think so….

I know many of the PACS out there and I’m sorry DR Systems just isn’t #9 in the ambulatory care rankings. Murray and Rick run an incredibly tight ship there and would kick some serious butt if they felt the ranking was justified. Instead they probably are just happy to play Avis in the small hospital market and choose to ignore the ambulatory rankings. On the plus side Intelerad, an all too often ignored company, did rank number one in that market and I can honestly say deservedly so…

So who are the top five vendors in PACS? The top five vendors are the one who best meets your needs, not who someone has arbitrarily ranked based on criteria filled out by an individual who may or may not be then right person to ask on any given day. Imaging directors and others need to be able to clearly articulate what these needs are, then talk to others or comparable volume and application who have used various PACS then look at each vendor based on their merits, not rankings.

I wonder when PACS consultants will get ranked. With any luck maybe I can help develop with the criteria….and be in the top 10….maybe….although if political correctness is one of the factors being looked at I’m dead meat…