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AGFA Healthcare: A New Era of Digital Imaging
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Franz Tiani, Vice President Europe , Agfa HealthCare Traditionally, radiology has been the gatekeeper of imaging, with images residing in siloed image management systems, such as PACS. However, healthcare has become more digitized, and specialities such as cardiology, orthopaedics, oncology, women’s health, and pathology now generate many files that need to be archived electronically and made accessible via EMRs. The need to connect these multiple, disparate systems into one imaging health record has given birth to today’s most significant trend in health information technology, which is the shift from traditional picture archiving to Enterprise Imaging and data management systems. Consequently, this healthcare model fundamentally changes how clinicians have been accessing and collaborating on images and patient information for the past 20 years.
Agfa HealthCare has developed a unified Enterprise Imaging (EI) platform that collects all data such as images, waveforms, reports and other patient data and amalgamates it into one place instead of the current system of data residing in numerous, disconnected departmental data silos. By using this model, a patient’s electronic medical record (EMR) can include embedded links to reports and images from all speciality departments in one location by interfacing with the central imaging platform. The solution also helps overcome many of the issues with interoperability between various departments and software vendors’ systems.
“We improve the workflow by providing a meaningful solution to doctors’ diagnosis and their planning of therapy,” states Franz Tiani, Vice President for Europe of Agfa HealthCare. Many vendors claim to be enterprise imaging-oriented, but they are often more conceptual, whereas Agfa HealthCare fulfils the reality by allowing its clients to modularise their adoption of digital imaging and then grow and scale throughout their enterprise. The company has positioned its offerings and solutions to create an impact against the deficits in the healthcare system, irrespective of their size or location. “We enable better access to information quicker and more expediently for improved decisions and better outcomes,” asserts Roberto Anello, Managing Director for Northern Europe at Agfa HealthCare.
Customer Partnership Program – an Approach to the Right Alliance
Along with CIOs and healthcare executives, and as a collaborative approach, Agfa HealthCare has implemented a Customer Partnership Program – encompassing an advisory board and including activities such as clinical collaboration and development roadmap prioritisation reviews. The advisory board includes thought leaders with different profiles, such as CIOs, CCIOs and CEOs from different countries who capture market demands and validate new concepts. Through clinical collaboration, the company works closely on developing new software functionality, focusing on one or more specific agreed domains with clear, agreed objectives. The customers strongly influence the roadmap of Agfa HealthCare’s products in selective domains, and the firm ensures increased clinical effectiveness of new developments by collaborating with leading clinical experts. The development readiness assessment allows the existing customers to provide positive feedback on Agfa HealthCare products and services during interviews and site visits to potential customers.
The Battle against COVID-19
COVID-19 has forced almost everyone to work remotely, which is also the case for many healthcare professionals, such as radiologists as an example. The pandemic has created the need for collaboration and image sharing across hospital networks over multiple geographical regions. Some hospitals are centralizing triage of patients and, depending on the case severity, patients are sent for admission to different hospitals. Others are looking to balance the bed capacity and load with hospitals inside or outside their network.
With the growing need to collaborate across hospitals and geographies, timely, convenient sharing and transfer of imaging data are vital. Agfa HealthCare’s XERO solution allows healthcare workers to securely view, review, and share these studies. With the screen sharing feature, colleagues can also review and collaborate on a study, in real-time, across regional lines. Agfa HealthCare has worked brilliantly to enable remote working for all its clients effectively and has enhanced workflows for use outside of the hospital, enabling clinicians to work efficiently in and outside regional boundaries.
We enable better access to information quicker and more expediently for improved decisions and better outcomes
Moreover, and in collaboration with their strategic network of Partners, Agfa HealthCare has supported the set-up of remote reporting stations to enable radiologists to work remotely. The firm’s Enterprise Imaging platform allows integration with Microsoft Teams for ease of tele-communication, and is a unique integration to the market in allowing radiologists to look at an image, report, or progress workflow and share it across the health system - not only within the existing acute setting to consult with other healthcare specialists, but also outside the boundaries of a hospital. Since it takes a significant amount of digital storage space for digital imaging, Agfa HealthCare strives to get better cost advantages and improved predictions on costs for its clients. Consequently, the company will be using internationally renowned technology brands for Production Systems for EI and Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA).
On an international level, the firm has deployed an e-learning platform to provide easy access to crucial knowledge, providing the necessary flexibility needed during this COVID-19 crisis. The eLearning platform hosts online courses for the different Enterprise Imaging desktops (diagnostic desktop, desktop for PACS administrators) and courses for the XERO Viewer.
A Cut Above the Rest
Agfa Healthcare has always believed in a shoulder-to-shoulder approach to business. “We don’t call our clients, ‘clients’ but ‘partners’. We share our clients’ challenges and successes alike,” states Anello. The firm emphasizes going the extra mile in creating a professional relationship that is noticeably superior to a typical vendor supplier relationship, going through project delivery into ongoing and future relationship management. Unlike other vendors, who publish a roadmap from which clients can choose only specific fragments, Agfa HealthCare takes a holistic look at a client’s roadmap and strategic imperatives and creates a shared or intertwined roadmap for everyone involved. “We are aligned to the direction of our hospital networks and are not just trying to push a product,” states Anello. Agfa HealthCare also collaborates with clients by immersing itself in the business and ensuring the desired outcomes and the right stakeholder management. “Leaning in on partnerships is what separates us from others,” asserts Anello.
Agfa HealthCare’s solutions are optimized around web technologies - with seamless connectivity which has proven to be a game-changer in the UK market. Leveraging cloud technology, the firm has presented a performant plug-and-play system with exceptional fluidity and streamlining of data.
Roberto Anello, Managing Director for Northern Europe, Agfa HealthCare
The flexible and modular aspect of Agfa HealthCare’s technologies has enabled clients to adopt it at their own pace as per their strategy. “We make it convenient for any client to work with us and grow their digital and diagnostic strategies over the course of our partnership,” says Tiani.
With marketing, product management, and R&D spread out worldwide, there is a good international mix of activities and contacts. “Customers appreciate the fact that they can work with local people who speak the same language and also bring insights about localised workflows,” adds Anello.
Since its inception, Agfa HealthCare employees have developed a true IT mindset over the years, and many of them combine a clinical background (education/experience) with fundamental IT knowledge. It is a forward-thinking, eclectic crowd with IT as the glue. Agfa HealthCare’s management teams ran regular checks during the pandemic, focussing on its employees’ health and wellbeing and accommodating better working environments and flexible work hours to support different lifestyles. “We treat our teams like our family because their health and wellbeing are vital to us,” states Anello. The culture at Agfa HealthCare aligns to being understanding and empathetic to the stress on the healthcare system and acknowledging that its solutions are tools that can help deliver improved outcomes for both clinicians and patients.
What Lies Ahead
The drive for becoming a net-zero carbon healthcare industry is prevalent in all the regions, and recently, Agfa HealthCare, along with the Agfa Gevaert Group, has enabled sustainability endeavours within its business units. The firm has appointed dedicated individuals responsible for ensuring that healthcare is working towards a net-zero business model. Over the last 12 months, the company has put a real focus on implementing sustainability as a part of its ongoing strategy to improve its carbon footprint and create an impact on its future.
Agfa HealthCare already has a well-established and working offering for integrated care systems (ICSs) that can accumulate data and is referenceable with eight large and different acute facilities. “We have quite exciting upcoming additions to the platform within augmented intelligence - covering X-ray, CT lung, and mammography,” adds Tiani. The company has embarked on a new journey with a few of its clients around integrating AI algorithms within its enterprise imaging platform to enable the early detection of patient issues and challenges. Augmented Intelligence will help detect nodules that may beat the early stages of cancer and both accelerate the decisions and augment clinicians’ conditions to achieve quicker decisions and improve outcomes. Recent Agfa HealthCare ‘client-proven’ benefits have shown that AI has significantly streamlined the surveillance workflow and offered both a 26% reduction in clinical reading time and 29% increased detection in missed nodules. “It is about being able to share work and improve outcomes - giving access to information quicker to move the patients through their imaging journey to the right place at the right time,” concludes Anello.
Management Franz Tiani, Vice President Europe and Roberto Anello, Managing Director for Northern Europe, Agfa HealthCare
Description Agfa HealthCare is transforming the delivery of care – supporting HealthCare professionals across the globe with secure, effective, and sustainable imaging data management. Agfa HealthCare has developed a robust and unified Enterprise Imaging Platform that collects all data such as images, waveforms, reports and other patient data and amalgamates it into one place instead of the current system of data residing in numerous, disconnected departmental data silos.
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