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Putting RIS/PACS Users at the Center

While members of the medical imaging informatics community are still packing their bags to go to SIIM 2010 in Minneapolis later this week, scores of RIS and PACS administrators, radiologists, radiology directors and informatics experts have already arrived to take part in GE Healthcare’s Centricity Imaging User Summit today and DIAMOND, Excite and CRISS user group meetings tomorrow.

“The summit is one of the best opportunities we have to share knowledge, product information and our vision for the future with our customers, who are constantly pushing to improve how medical images and related data are managed,” says Don Woodlock, senior vice president and global general manager for Imaging Solutions at GE Healthcare.  “What is so important at this event is that we are listening at least as much as we are talking — our Centricity product managers are getting direct input from the people who work with our products every day.”

With economic pressure forcing all healthcare organizations to scrutinize their spending, GE Healthcare has kept up its strong connections with Centricity users by continuing to fund conferences, user groups and focus groups. And the value of these meetings is felt all around.

One attendee is KimBaldwin, a PACS Administrator at South Jersey Radiology Associates (SJRA), an outpatient imaging center chain with 10 locations and 44 subspecialized radiologists in southern New Jersey. 

“There's always something new to do with PACS — security, improving productivity or workflow, HIPPA rules — and the user summit is a nice way for GE to distribute information to people,” she says. “Moreover, the networking is very beneficial, hearing what others are doing, especially innovators and early adopters.”

Baldwin’s first direct contact with GE Healthcare was when she joined a Centricity PACS-IW user group called DIAMOND (Dynamic Imaging Associated Members Organized for Networking and Discussion) in 2007, which she leads today as the group’s chair. DIAMOND’s purpose is to enable PACS administrators, information technology directors, and technologically-savvy physicians to share ideas, information and best practices with each other. Baldwin is currently serving a two-year term.

She has also led several focus groups for GE Healthcare. A recent focus group centered on GE Healthcare's service and support. A group of 10-12 customers participated in monthly calls, enabling Baldwin to capture users’ actual experiences and perceptions, and feed detailed information back to the company. "Running a focus group is about listening to people and trying to get them what they need, and GE really takes the feedback to heart and acts on it,” she says. “Over the past couple of months, people have been happier with the service."

Two years ago Baldwin spoke at the Centricity Imaging User Summit about SJRA’s roll-out of PACS to referring physicians, enabling them to view images and reports via a secure web-based system. This year, summit topics range from advanced PACS administration to building a 24×7 distributed teleradiology practice.

Always pushing the limits, Baldwin is particularly interested this year in improving SJRA’s disaster recovery system, to be certain that data are not affected by hardware failures or power cuts, for example. At the user summit she’ll have ample opportunity to get input from her professional peers, and at SIIM on June 3, she’ll be able to investigate her options with GE and the broader vendor community.