Web-based system runs PACS images on
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre has partnered with Client Outlook
Inc., based in Waterloo, to roll out digital imaging software called
eUnity. It’s a Flash-based program that works inside a web browser and
does the job of a $20,000 workstation.
Typically, clinicians in a hospital would have to use a specialized
workstation to pull up digital test results. Problem is, they’re
extremely expensive, which limits how many hospitals can realistically
deploy throughout their buildings.
Now, eUnity means hospital staff can do the same work using a web
browser on standard desktop computers. And, because it’s a web
application, there’s no software to install on each computer, a major
bonus for IT staff.
In September, eUnity was approved by Health Canada as a diagnostic tool.
Soon after, Sunnybrook began testing it.
The hospital had been waiting years for something like eUnity to come
along, Andrew Volkening, Sunnybrook’s PACS administrator told the
Canadian Press. “Not only is it something we don’t have to install
software (for) anywhere, but it’s delivering those high-resolution
images at an almost real-time speed – and that’s not an easy thing,
technically, to do.”
The hospital conducts about 300,000 examinations a year and creates as
many as 18 million digital images for test results. Sunnybrook only has
about 250 PACS workstations, including some in underutilized areas like
operating rooms, and others that are so busy that lines sometimes form
to use them, Volkening said.
“You spend quite a bit of time at a workstation ... Our average CT now
is over 600 images, which is much larger than what it used to be, and
when you’re going through a CT image it’s time consuming. It can take
you 20 minutes and someone else might be waiting behind you,” he said.
“Something like eUnity would let (doctors) pull it up on the computers
they already have in the O.R. and I don’t have to give them a
Although eUnity is still in the testing phase and hasn’t been fully
rolled out, Volkening said early reviews have been enthusiastic and
those who have access to the software are envied by other staff. “The
feedback’s been extremely positive, everybody is emailing now saying,
‘When is everyone going to get the software?’ because it’s something
that’s been a long time coming.”
The technology is exciting for hospital professionals but a recent demo
of eUnity on a tablet also created buzz outside the healthcare sector.
In October, eUnity had the distinction of sharing the spotlight with
Research In Motion when the new PlayBook tablet – due for release next
year – had its first live demonstration at a developers’ conference
organized by tech company Adobe.
RIM chose eUnity as the first app to be run in public on the
“This application is really, really cool,” enthused Adobe chief
technology officer Kevin Lynch as he showcased eUnity to the crowd.
Client Outlook has more work to do to get the app version of eUnity
approved for hospital use, but Volkening predicted it won’t be long
before mobile devices are deployed.
“Those types of devices really give a doctor mobility – they’re light to
carry around – so I can see as more devices come out like the PlayBook,
doctors will start asking for support for that and want to carry those
around,” he said. “I can really see 2011 having a demand for those types
Steve Rankin, Client Outlook’s CEO said members of the eUnity team
previously worked at health-care companies and did consulting work at
hospitals, which helped them understand the need for the new software.
“It’s really just about making it easy to view medical images and the
result can be tremendous,” he said.
Rankin, who previously worked at Agfa HealthCare in Waterloo, is
frequently in and out of Sunnybrook helping to get eUnity fully
implemented. “As soon as you sit down in the environment you can start
realizing a bunch of things you’re not thinking about when you’re
sitting in an office.”
“It can be something as simple as a new way to click through to make it
better usable, get higher adoption, or you may by going into that
hospital . . . identify a new risk you haven’t thought about before.”
He said the company is already “far along the process” in talking with
more than 20 other Canadian hospitals about eUnity. They’re also moving
toward FDA approval in the United States and have feelers out with
Posted November 18, 2010