Day: June 2, 2006

Who's Going to AAMI 2006?

The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) is holding their annual meeting June 24-26 in Washington D.C. at the venerable Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. I'm going to piggyback the conference with an IHE PCD meeting at NIST that follows AAMI. I'm going to schedule a "meet the bloggers" event some time during AAMI. If you're a blogger, let's get together - otherwise it will just be "meet the blogger." Much like at HIMSS, the idea is to find a place were we can eat, drink and socialize some time during the conference. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know. Otherwise over the next few days, I'll pick a local where we can meet. I'll be blogging from both the AAMI conference and the IHE meeting at...

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Data Storage Technology Advances

Content-addressed storage pioneer Paul Carpentier has started a new storage company called Caringo Inc. The company is positioned as providing, "scalable, high-end fixed content storage software, while reducing complexity, vendor lock-in and mounting costs." Sounds like just the ticket for hospital enterprise storage (you know, like PACS and CVIS). Their new product is called CAStore (can you say that without snickering? I can't). Here's their pitch: It is hardware agnostic; The scalable parallel cluster architecture accommodates data growth as needed – even across heterogeneous, evolving hardware; The long-term storage is designed to be impervious to attack; It is self-configuring, managing and healing; The system provides a standard HTTP interface free from proprietary APIs and allows access from any platform, from cell phone to mainframe; Includes built-in disaster recovery, backup and continuous data availability features in a single, integrated software package; and Architected to prevent bottlenecks, eliminating any single point of failure. Sounds like motherhood and apple pie. What's really cool is that CAStor is sold on a bootable USB flash drive that plugs into the user’s choice of X86 hardware with a Gigabyte (GB) or more of RAM, one or more hard drives and GB Ethernet. Scalability is achieved as simply as booting another node at any point in time. Imagine selling a USB drive for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars - it boggles the mind. You...

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Philips Medical Systems Profits Disappoint

Jouko Karvinen, chief executive of Philips Medical Systems, said at a recent analyst meeting that they expect profit margins in the Medical Systems division to raise in the second half of the year. Margins at the unit have lagged those of the company's main rivals in healthcare and medical technology, which include Germany's Siemens AG (SI) and U.S.-based General Electric Co. (GE). According to market research businesses MedTech Insight and PMS Internal Analysis, the global market for medical devices and accompanying services was worth $290 billion in 2005. In the first quarter, the EBIT margin at the medical unit declined to 6.7% from 7.8% in the same period a year earlier. The margin was pressured by a less favorable geographical sales mix, additional investments in research and development and ongoing charges relating to the acquisition of U.S. based healthcare IT-company Stentor in mid-2005. Philips expects year-on-year margin improvement at Medical Systems to result in a higher margin for 2006 compared with the 10.1% of 2005. Nothing like a little pressure to focus the mind: Chief Executive Gerard Kleisterlee has identified the Medical Systems unit as the company's main growth driver in the years to come. In other news, Philips also restated its plans in the area of consumer health and wellness, which is targeting growth in "remote home healthcare solutions" specifically. Philips earlier this year bought Lifeline Systems Inc....

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New Bluetooth SIG Targets Medical Devices

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has formed a Medical Devices Working Group with the objective to enable health-related devices to work with consumer electronics products (press release). At a Bluetooth SIG meeting last month in Seattle, a group of 19 vendors, including Intel, Philips, and Welch Allyn, agreed towork on a new Bluetooth Medical Device Profile that will optimized interoperability between health-related devices and personal consumer electronics products such as mobile phones, PCs and PDAs where Bluetooth technology is already common. “Health-related devices in the home, such as weight scales, blood pressure monitors and exercise equipment, which implement the new standard will be able to send information wirelessly to Bluetooth enabled PCs or cell phones so that users can monitor their health information or share this information with a doctor or fitness coach anywhere in the world,” said Robert Hughes, chair of the new Bluetooth SIG Medical Devices Working Group and a senior wireless standards architect in Intel’s Digital Health Group. The SIG will begin work in the profile immediately, and hopes to have a ratified profile available for use in the first half of 2007. The completed profile will run on all current versions of Bluetooth technology including the future high-speed version. Bluetooth is a great low cost wireless technology for communications between a sensor or medical device and a gateway that transmits data on to a local...

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St Jude Outsources to IBM

IBM announced that they've developed a portable programmer for implantable heart devices for St Jude. The system, called the Merlin Patient Care System, provides a better workflow and more memory - and I'll bet a much lower cost of goods. Here's a summary of the features: A new user interface that makes the entire system faster to learn and use. This interface, which is currently available for pacemakers and is expected to be available for ICDs later this year, mimics the natural workflow of a clinic to make it easier for clinicians to operate. Enhanced presentation of diagnostics, which consolidate and display patient information so clinicians can make faster decisions. State-of-the-art hardware, including a powerful Intel Pentium M processor, an expanded disk and flexible options for future upgrades. The hardware increases speed and consumes less energy, allowing the system to weigh less, thereby making it easier for physicians and nurses to carry and store. The industry's first session summary screen, which shows a summary of tests performed during a pacemaker patient's follow-up exam, and shows a comparison between presenting settings and currently programmed settings. This feature also is expected to be available for ICD patients later this year. Monitoring will be able to be conducted remotely and programming, once a difficult and time-consuming process, may become routine. This is an interesting product for a number of reasons. First, it...

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