Siemens signs agreement with i3ARCHIVE to deliver National Digital Mammography Archive to health care facilities

Malvern 29 September 2003Siemens Medical Solutions has signed an agreement with i3ARCHIVE Inc., a company specializing in national storage, access and distribution of health images and data, to deliver i3ARCHIVE's National Digital Mammography Archive (NDMA) to health care facilities nationwide. This unique agreement, which will include marketing, sales, and research and development activities, makes Siemens the first mammography vendor to develop a co-operative relationship with i3ARCHIVE to distribute NDMA services, and offer the NDMA as an integrated part of its mammography solution.

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"The NDMA represents a paradigm shift in the way clinical mammography is conducted and we believe it will usher in a new opportunity to improve the effectiveness of annual screening", stated Bonnie Sharps, vice president of Business Development of i3ARCHIVE. "This agreement illustrates Siemens' commitment to improving women's breast health, and we're thrilled to be working together to bring this important service to hospitals across the nation."

According to a 2002 Frost & Sullivan market research report on clinical mammography, approximately 32 million screening mammograms will be performed in 2003, with this number expected to increase to 49 million by 2009. And while previous films are essential for screening evaluation, it is estimated that every year 20 percent of previous mammography films are lost or unavailable.

Most of these mammography images are acquired using analogue film methods. Expenses associated with analogue films, such as film and developing costs, distribution, management, and space requirements, continue to grow. A digital mammography solution eliminates film costs and space requirements, yet brings its own digital storage challenges. At most institutions, the digital mammography data volumes are expected to exceed the volume of all other digital imaging modalities combined.

In response to these issues, the NDMA technology was developed with federal grant funding by four major teaching universities including the University of Pennsylvania. The NDMA is a distributed archiving supercomputer with a robust security architecture, digital certification and smart card authentication, all features that support compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

The archive is connected to the hospital or health system via a device that enables the hospital or health system to access their image data or, with approval, another hospital's image data, allowing patient records to be distributed within and across hospital enterprises in less than 90 seconds. This solution reduces image storage and retrieval costs, manages compliance with government regulations such as HIPAA, and capitalizes on the benefits of digital imaging by offering a knowledge management solution that can improve the delivery of care, professional training, and research related to women's breast health.

"Unlike a single-hospital approach, NDMA can access a patient's complete mammography history regardless of its origin, giving doctors a powerful tool for identifying potential problems and diagnosing illnesses", stated Mitchell Schnall M.D., Ph.D., radiologist at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, and Professor and Associate Chair of Research in the department of Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. "In addition, this database can provide optimal material to every teaching programme in the country, enabling us to teach young radiologists how to best interpret a mammogram. Overall, the NDMA solution promises significant improvement in screening and diagnostic capability, as well as offering an excellent resource for our teaching programmes."

Michael Monahan, division manager for the Siemens Medical Solutions Special Products Division, also believes that the NDMA will benefit health care facilities in a number of ways. "Above and beyond this being a digital mammography image storage tool, which alone is an important benefit to customers, this will be a knowledge management tool that will allow physicians to compare notes with other experts and intelligently mine data to improve their diagnostic abilities.

"Additionally, the NDMA is designed to facilitate data analysis tools such as Computer Aided Detection (CAD)", he explained. "For a patient, it will mean that wherever she goes, she can access her mammography images nationwide, and her doctor will be able to take advantage of the collective medical knowledge of all NDMA users." "NDMA capitalizes on the strengths of digital technology", summarized Bonnie Sharps. "This enables access to centralized CAD algorithms and rapid sharing of images between clinical providers and centres of excellence. All of these benefits can be delivered to health care providers without the need for capital investment."

i3ARCHIVE Inc., headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, specializes in the national and cross enterprise distribution and access of health images and data. The NDMA is the company's flagship product, providing a complete medical image and information management system that offers immediate on-line storage of enterprise-wide and nationwide diagnostic mammography images and relevant information. Recognized as the leading project of its kind, the NDMA was ranked by InfoWorld magazine as the number-one innovative technology project in 2002 aimed at streamlining business processes.


Leslie Versweyveld

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