Pitt County Memorial Hospital selects Heartlab's Encompass Cardiac Network for multi-modality image management

Westerly 22 August 2002Pitt County Memorial Hospital has selected Heartlab Inc.'s Encompass Cardiac Network to handle the hospital's cardiac image distribution and storage needs. The 731-bed tertiary referral centre in Greenville, North Carolina, is part of University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina and home to The Heart Center, recognised as a state and national expert in developing, performing and refining innovative procedures such as robotic surgery to treat coronary disease.


"The hospital's cardiac cath labs were in transition from film to digital, and we began cranking out CDs with the patients' information", stated Joseph D. Babb, MD, Professor of Medicine at East Carolina School of Medicine and Medical Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, explaining why his facility selected Heartlab. The hospital's five cath labs perform about 5000 procedures annually, 2000 of which interventional, and the remainder diagnostic.

"It drove home the point that CDs were intended to be a medium for communication, not long-term archival storage, because if we lost a CD, we lost the archive", Dr. Babb continued. "It was like having two feet on the proverbial banana peel. We needed a long-term, on-line archival solution, and Heartlab delivered."

Heartlab's Encompass connects to all major cardiac x-ray and ultrasound systems using the industry-standard DICOM communications protocol, creating a central repository of digital images from multiple modalities together with the associated physician findings reports. Using Heartlab's network-connected diagnostic review stations, clinicians can instantaneously access several thousand diagnostic cardiac catheterisation or echocardiography cases stored on the Encompass Enterprise Server, and access in less than 30 seconds cases stored on the Encompass DVD Image Archive.

Heartlab's DVD archive is ten times faster than competing technologies, with scaleable capacity to store from 5000 to more than 100.000 cases on site. In addition, secure LAN, WAN or Internet access is also available so clinicians can reference patient data from any PC with a Web browser.

"Having digital image data available to me virtually anywhere in the hospital will facilitate review of cases and discussions with patients and families", stated Dr. Babb. "It also enhances the teaching function. We can call up images right in the patient area so residents can see the connection between the patient and the data. In addition, consultants can go into a patient's room and pull up the images right there, instead of running up and down four flights."

Dr. Babb noted that Pitt County Memorial will use the Heartlab system for both cardiac cath and echocardiography image management. "The echocardiography director is also eager to have an archival solution", he stated. "And we intend to add electrophysiology when it gets DICOM-ised."

He added that one specification that he had for a cardiac network vendor was to make image access available to the hospital's outreach clinics as well as to all physician offices in town that have an Internet connection. "Heartlab's ability to do this was another reason they were our vendor of choice", he concluded.

Founded in 1994, Heartlab Inc. specialises in the development of cardiac imaging software and the integration of cardiac imaging network systems. Today, Heartlab's networks are installed in more than 135 of the United States leading heart centres, and the company's cardiac archiving systems manage a volume of more than 900.000 patient cases with an installed DVD-R storage capacity of 1,8 million examinations.

Leslie Versweyveld

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