Merge May 2023 newsletter: Your challenges are our challenges
In my first month as general manager of our Merge portfolio, I’ve observed firsthand many of the qualities that you have come to recognize us for. Our proven imaging workflow solutions. Our team’s expertise and focused approach to innovation. Our track record as a transformation partner.
But, what stands out most is the tireless work that you, our customers, do to improve patient outcomes and care delivery. I’ve had a chance to meet with some of you already and will continue to find opportunities to meet the rest, to better understand the unique challenges each of you are working to overcome and to align our plans with your strategic needs.
I’m looking forward to working side-by-side with you all to advance our shared goal of putting people at the center of health.
Over the past few decades, there has been both an explosion in computing — many of us have multiple devices — and an expansion of networking. In the past, we would use one or two applications to transfer data over the network. Today, almost every application has some networking aspect, whether as its primary purpose such as a web browser, or as a utility feature such as keeping your address book synchronized.
Like in our physical world, the need for authorized access drives the cybersecurity challenge. Networking is the Achilles heel of cloud security. Yet, networking is also the essential ingredient of cloud. Without networking, there would be no cloud. How do you reconcile the security vulnerabilities of networking with a cloud-based world?
Establishing a secure environment requires each layer and component of the system to do its part. New vulnerabilities are found almost every day. Network protocols, operating systems, middleware, and applications need to be patched to prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited. Cybersecurity tools and monitoring are necessary to detect prowlers looking for holes in your perimeter or perhaps already operating in our systems. Security protocols like zero trust are required to make sure that access is only granted to those with a legitimate requirement and to ensure that access is removed when the requirement ends.
Merge can help your business stay ahead of these attackers, putting you into a proactive position rather than a constantly reactive one. Merge was one of only 20 recipients of the “Cybersecurity Transparency” award handed out by the KLAS Research and Censinet at the recent ViVE industry conference. All Merge products undergo a rigorous security process that includes activities such as regular scanning for vulnerabilities and penetration testing. Merge has ongoing programs to stay abreast of the ever-evolving security arena – and to stay one step ahead of the next vulnerability.
McFarland Clinic: Merge as an antidote to downtime anxiety
Downtime is as impossible to predict as it is inevitable. It’s important to be proactive both with monitoring and building downtime procedures. For McFarland Clinic, one recent episode of downtime occurred when an HL7 interface went down and consequently caused the downstream PACS to stop receiving order messages.
Luckily, McFarland had several downtime procedures and contingencies to deploy – and in this particular case, the clinic’s radiologists were able to switch over to a downtime worklist. Because they had preconfigured and mapped out contingencies to quickly pivot systems and workflows in the event of downtime, they were able to ensure little to no disruption in patient care during this time.
This is thanks to Merge’s proven track record in providing the proactive monitoring, maintenance, and architecture needed to ensure imaging organizations’ systems continually stay up. McFarland has been working with Merge for over 10 years, with deep investments across our portfolio of workflow and enterprise imaging tools. Merge solutions help provide an antidote to one of the biggest sources of imaging anxiety and provide organizations with controllable and resilient environments.
Check out our full McFarland Clinic case study for more on McFarland’s story with downtime, as well as an exploration into both the common causes of downtime, and what downtime can mean for hospitals, patients, clinicians, and the imaging business.
Product update: AI offerings
AI for diagnostic imaging is a hot topic in the health tech industry with analysts and other “watchers” tracking the growing numbers of AI applications clearing regulatory approval and entering the market. In 2023 there are 520 FDA-cleared applications, up from 90 in 2021 – with 75% of these designed for radiology use cases.
However, these tools haven’t caught on with their intended audiences as quickly as originally anticipated (with the exception of research and teaching institutions which have embraced the innovation). Only 30% of imaging organizations have invested in AI. But encouragingly, 25% of those which haven’t yet invested said they plan to do so in the near future.
Our purpose at Merge is to help you navigate this landscape with confidence, as a trusted resource for all your imaging technology needs for over 30 years. We firmly believe that AI is an essential technology to help Merge clients manage several challenges. And we have the expertise and resources to recommend a path forward that is right for your organization.
As you’re aware, we have invested in an ecosystem of business partnerships with industry-leading developers of these diagnostic tools, which can be valuable enhancements to your existing Merge investments. And, to simplify your procurement and deployment, we also developed Merge AI Orchestrator, a cloud-based orchestration platform.
As of May 1st, Merative has signed 15 partnerships, to offer you approximately 30 imaging AI applications. Many more are underway, to offer a range of choices that can expand your imaging capabilities from Merge.
- Aidoc, arguably the leading provider of triage applications, is validated to integrate with Merge PACS so your emergency department and radiology teams can identify and respond to urgent cases more efficiently.
- Your neurologists and neuroradiologists have a choice of offerings from cortechs.ai and Combinostics to quantify and track several neuro-degenerative diseases. This is timely, given recent approvals of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s.
- Your lung screening programs can increase the quality and precision of lung CT reporting with VIDA Insight.
- Increase revenue from the cardiology department: DiA’s ultrasound application makes it possible to reimburse for more Strain studies.
With AI technologies becoming more widely accepted in healthcare – imaging in particular--how are you thinking about it? Please let us know with this 5-minute Merge AI Adoption Survey before June 30. Your responses will help us do a better job of helping you!
User conference: Highlighting our Merge Cardio offerings
Are you planning to attend the User Conference, September 10-12 in Austin Texas? We’re planning new additions to this year’s program, including sessions designed specifically for providers and business leaders, as well as some impressive physician speakers. For our Merge Cardio users, we're offering several exciting opportunities, including an introduction to our new cardiology consultant, Dr. Sujith Kalathiveetil from Duly Health and Care. Dr. Kalathiveetil is teaming up with Merge as a collaborator and advisor on the development of Merge Cardio and our partnerships in the cardiology field. Attendees of the User Conference will have the opportunity to connect with Dr. Kalathiveetil, and learn more about his consultancy with Merge.
Merge Cardio users in attendance will also receive an overview of the product's vision and roadmap, including updates on our analytics platform for the purposes of feedback and education. Additionally, Merge Cardio users will participate in training sessions on features such as Cardio Manager and Web Admin. There will also be discussions on cardiology trends, unmet clinical needs, and the chance to meet and network with other providers who share a common clinical interest.
All Merge customers in attendance will receive a deep dive on Merge's cloud journey and enterprise imaging strategy as well as engaging panel discussions and product related sessions. Save your spot today to make sure you’re able to join us for the numerous educational and networking opportunities we’re planning!