23 Nov 2016

Is a Single Universal Viewer Right for Your Organization?

Tim Dawson, Vice President of Technology, Vital Images, Inc.

The phrase “universal viewer” has been around for a while, and I’m sure we’ll see more of it at RSNA this year.  The basic idea of a universal viewer is that one viewer can be all things to all people – and countless vendors are telling you that they have the one universal viewer you need.

Fundamentally, this is a broken proposition.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s important to address the needs of all your users. But you need to have the right tool for the job. If you have too few capabilities, you can’t be successful. If you only have a hammer, pretty soon everything starts looking like a nail. Of course, the other end of the spectrum doesn’t work either. If you keep piling on features, your tool becomes unwieldy and unusable. We believe many roles in the organization and different tools are needed – not a single tool with every button and switch is possible. Even if you try to hide some of that complexity from the users, it still exists. Some classes of users need different tools. Similarly, there may not even be a single tool for a single user depending on what they are trying to do. This is something we learned in our advanced visualization heritage. Years ago, AV simply provided 3D models, but over time it became too hard for users to navigate everything they wanted to do, and applications targeted to specific tasks dramatically improved quality and efficiency. In other words, we believe that a design is not finished when there is nothing left to add, but only when there is nothing left to take away.

The best tools are targeted to streamline and improve workflows to reduce costs and improve outcomes. You don’t see a single hammer in a master craftsman’s workshop, and you don’t see a single scalpel in the surgical suite. Again, you need the right tool for the job.

For example, an enterprise viewer should be targeted to the broad section of users (nurses, referring docs, etc.) who simply need to consume images… all types of images, whether traditional images created in radiology, gynecology, cardiology, neurology, or visible light images created in dermatology and wound care specialists, or even non-images such as ECG wave forms and video. Making this as fast as possible is the key. In the rare case where they need to drill deeper, this should be possible at the click of a button.

Similarly, when driving diagnosis or making care decisions, or even performing treatment (interventional radiology), its critical to provide tools that are designed for the task at hand and integrated to seamlessly work together. Automatic selection of application and/or protocols based on user, disease state and other factors will drive the next level of efficiency and accuracy.

Earlier this year we introduced our personalized viewing platform to address the issue when one viewer doesn’t meet all image display needs. While a single universal viewer falls short, a family of image viewing and analysis tools such as Vitrea can provide a wide array of clinical tools at your disposal, serving every clinical space from daily practice, to ED, to Surgery, Radiology and beyond. Whether you use our solutions or prefer those from another vendor, make sure you keep your users and patients in mind and enable targeted, efficient workflows to reduce costs and improve outcomes. If you’re interested to learn more about how you can do this, please stop by and talk with us at RSNA – booth 7356!