The 2008 PACSman Awards: I shaved my legs for this?

CHICAGO - OK, let's get something straight right off the bat -- I don't shave my legs or any other part of my anatomy, except maybe to trim up the area under my beard so I don't look like I live under an overpass.

That said, I have many female friends who have expressed this sentiment when they hoped a date would have worked out a lot better than it did.

The RSNA show this year made many question whether it was worth it. There were no earth-shattering product introductions, at least in the PACS arena, and booth traffic seemed dramatically off, with many vendors speculating declines of 20% to 25% or more from RSNA 2007, even though the RSNA's official figures showed a 5% overall decline through Tuesday.

There were signs that the economic crisis is affecting how many vendors attend the show, with 24 fewer exhibitors and a drop of 19,000 sq ft in occupied exhibit space this year compared to last, despite the fact that RSNA expanded to a three-hall approach for technical exhibits, versus two in the previous year. The bistros were very nice ... although $19 for lunch doesn't really reflect the real-world pricing, even if this is Chicago.

While nothing spectacular was shown, innovative use of the iPhone wowed people in the booths of several vendors. One vendor has a patent pending on use of the music players inherent in iPhones, Blackberries, etc. to create an MP3 file that acts as a "musical link" for the delivery of a clinical study, useful in academic settings for tumor boards and teaching files. The company's hands-free workstations in another area reminded me of Disney's "Fantasia," in which Mickey waves his hands and everything magically happened. Neat for sure, but pragmatic? I'm sure the developers had fun, though.

There were nearly five times as many companies showing products in the archive, disaster recovery, and data migration space compared to last year, indicating the high degree of interest in this market.

I saw very few RIS applications, or at least those that were standalone and not integrated with PACS, although there were quite a few 3D and visualization add-on packages. Financing options were prevalent throughout many booths, as companies realize that capital has all but dried up and money must be diverted from operating budgets or other areas, at least in the short term. Most of the major vendors and many of the minors addressed financing and revenue management.

Best giveaways? IDS' candy sculptures, by far. Best party? Well, I know which one I liked the most, but anyone who gives away free food and free booze is a friend of mine. Best company? They were all interesting in one way, shape, or form for a variety of reasons, but some were much better than others ... and so, without further ado, here are the 2008 PACSman Award winners:

The "Told Ya So" Award
To the journalistic outlet whose Tuesday headline read: "Size Matters: Huge Potential Exists in the Tiniest of Particles." Everyone knows they were talking about nanoparticles and their potential to attach therapeutic drugs to receptors, which is why so many attendees smiled when reading the headline.

The "300" Award
To the company that held its RSNA party at a bowling lane instead of the usual "stoic" venues. 300 is not only a perfect game in bowling but also reflects the attitude of this company, whose 300 Spartans wage daily battle against the 1 million Persians for supremacy in their sector of the PACS marketplace.

The "Been There, Done That" Award
To the company that promoted its EX3 Zone. One ex is enough, thank you, and I can't even fathom having three. I also no longer need to "examine, explore, and experience" that. One colonoscopy every 10 years is more than enough.

And speaking of one, the "Chorus Line" Award goes to the 37 companies that used the word "one" in their promotional materials. "One ... singular sensation." "Every little step you take...." Indeed.

The "Star Trek" Award
To the companies using Enterprise, Galaxy, Federation, and other verbiage to describe their PACS products. Too bad my friend the Dalai Lama of PACS wasn't here -- he would have been in Trekkie heaven.

The "Emilio" Award
This award goes to the company that was rebuffed in its attempt to get bootleg copies of its software turned in and instead is now offering a "software exchange program" that provides new applications within the development toolkit. Sure sounds like a way of validating legal versus illegal software copies to me. And who is Emilio? Why, the butler in the movie "Mr. Deeds," who was "sneaky, sneaky" and loved to change Mr. Deeds' socks.

The "Lazarus" Award
To the company that for the second time in three years has come back from the dead, or at least claimed as much. Various religious factions refused to comment about the company. No word if a third comeback is planned for 2009.

The "Dating 101" Award
To the company that handed out books with the titles "Availability for Dummies" and "Virtualization for Dummies." My availability has always been a challenge, but my virtue -- never.

The "Dale Carnegie" Award
To the company that had a sign in its booth that read "We talk PACS and English 24/7." Carnegie, author of the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, might wish to remind this vendor that more than 10,000 international visitors attend RSNA annually, with numbers that have doubled since 2004.

Quick question: How can you have an Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) interoperability demo when four of the companies that are integrated are the same company?

The "Staple Singers" Award
To the company that offered to "Take You There." That %&%$# song, "I'll Take You There," has been in my head ever since.

The "E.D." Award
To all companies that have Vac in their product or company name -- "Pump up the volume, pump up the volume, pump up the volume, dance, dance...."

Look!!! Up in the sky!!! It's a bird! It's a plane! I wonder how much this company paid its market research firm to come up with such "super" product branding. For this they get the "Barney" Award -- super de dooper, indeed.

The "Cowardly Lion" Award
To all those people who said such sweet things about me early in the night, and then changed their posture after a heavy dose of liquid courage later in the evening.

The "Little Engine That Could" Award
To the company that recently sold for less than it raised in an IPO a few years back, and then had the chutzpah to announce that it planned to be in the top five in PACS in the next few years.

What's the deal with the three teleradiology overread companies all on the same aisle giving away footballs? I know the ball is in my court but ... ship it to me, will ya?

The "Three Little Pigs" Award
To all the companies offering Nintendo Wii gaming consoles for stopping by their booths. I wanna take a Wii Wii Wii all the way home. Ditto for all those offering iPod wonders.

And this year's winner -- was a NO SHOW!!!!

I got so excited when I saw this company's name -- a spin-off of a popular dating site -- that I could hardly contain myself. I've tried's "picture and a paragraph" approach and filled out Dr. Neil Warren's patented 400-plus questionnaire on e-Hominy Grits (not once, but twice), which only hooked me up with religious freaks (not zealots -- freaks). And while I found out that there are indeed plenty of fish in the sea, there were no keepers. So I got excited about the possibility of meeting the PACS gal of my dreams.

I boarded a 6:30 a.m. flight on Sunday, endured 20° weather, and hoped the $1,500 cost of attending the RSNA show would be worth it if I met her. Off I went to space 5471 and found it -- EMPTY!!!! Noooooo!!! Not again!

I should have figured that a company whose hyperlink to its Web site didn't work; who couldn't explain what its product was in two sentences, yet used words like revolutionary; and who had three typos in its release was too good to be true. Sorta like my last date, or the one before that, or....

But as everyone from Shakespeare to Scarlet has said, "Alas, there is always tomorrow" -- and with it, yet more PACSman awards.

See you then!

By Michael J. Cannavo contributing writer
December 4, 2008

Michael J. Cannavo is a leading PACS consultant and has authored nearly 300 articles on PACS technology in the past 16 years. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular vendor, analyst, industry consultant, or consulting group. Rather, they should be taken as the personal observations of a guy who has, by his own account, been in this industry way too long.

Related Reading

The Anthology of PACS Secrets, September 9, 2008

Part XX: Exploring PACS Secrets -- Will PACS survive? July 22, 2008

Part XIX: Exploring PACS Secrets -- The truth about DRA and PACS, March 27, 2008

Part XVIII: Exploring PACS Secrets -- Hiding out in plain view: PACS at HIMSS, March 10, 2008

Part XVII: Exploring PACS Secrets -- The state of the PACS market, 2008, February 7, 2008

Copyright © 2008

Page 1 of 775
Next Page