CLEVELAND - Monitor calibration could well be the most onerous chore in PACS maintenance. High-resolution displays are finicky creatures that must constantly be adjusted and readjusted to comply with the exacting standards required for digital image interpretation. What’s worse, calibration can only be done one monitor at a time.
But that's all changing. Two of radiology’s major high-resolution display manufacturers are unveiling new programs at this week’s SCAR meeting that aim to take the headache out of flat-panel monitor calibration. The companies, BarcoView and Planar Systems/Dome Imaging Systems, have developed software that allows flat-panel displays to be linked via a network and calibrated automatically to user-defined standards from remote locations.
At a press conference Friday morning, Belgian display firm BarcoView launched Personal Intelligence (PIN), the company’s new networked monitor-calibration program. PIN uses sensors, called I-Guards, mounted on each flat-panel display to monitor image quality continuously.
If the workstation to which the BarcoView monitor is attached is connected to a department’s local-area network, then data collected by I-Guard can be sent to a remote location, where the information can be viewed by the department’s PACS administration team. Data collected with the I-Guards is also analyzed by MediCal, BarcoViews’s quality-assurance and display-management software.
If MediCal determines that a display is out of calibration, then the PACS administrators can send commands to the monitor to recalibrate itself, or the monitor can be set to recalibrate automatically. The entire PIN process is invisible to those using the workstation, and applications continue to function normally. The PACS administrator can even check on the status of the department’s display network via the Web.
In addition to making life easier for PACS administrators, BarcoView believes that PIN will dramatically reduce monitor life-cycle costs -- by up to 80% for flat-panel monitors, according to Paul Matthijs, general manager of the company’s medical imaging systems business.
PIN is already being used at a small number of BarcoView beta sites, according to the company. It can be installed at any networked site using BarcoView flat-panel displays, because the company’s flat-panel products already ship with the I-Guard data-collection modules. BarcoView will sell the display-management software to OEMs and PACS integrators rather than to end users.
BarcoView isn’t the only firm rolling out networked display-management software. Flat-panel rival Dome of Waltham, MA, is using the SCAR show to highlight its own work in the field. The company was recently acquired by Planar Systems of Beaverton, OR.
Dome calls the program CXtra. It consists of a local application that monitors data from the flat-panel display, and uses Dome’s RightLight QA application to assess display conformance. The program is already available in a client-side version, and at the end of this summer, Dome will start shipping a server-based version that runs on a network, like BarcoView’s PIN.
CXtra is a good example of the kinds of synergies Planar was hoping for when it bought Dome, according to Matt Harris, general manager for Planar’s medical business unit. At its SCAR booth, Dome was showing the CXtra application running on a Planar flat-panel patient-monitoring display.
Dome estimates that PACS maintenance personal currently spend 20 minutes per monitor per week calibrating displays with photometers that have to be carried by hand to workstations. CXtra eliminates that step, enabling automatic, real-time calibration that makes flat-panel monitors even more attractive to healthcare users when compared to cathode-ray tube displays.
"You’re enabling a hospital facility (to eliminate) a low-value activity," Harris said. "You get better performance at the display node with less work."
By Brian Casey
AuntMinnie.com staff writer
May 4, 2002
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