Hospital purchasing cooperative VHA, Irving, Texas, said Monday that it has signed a potentially huge contract with information technology consulting firm Xtria for picture archiving and communications systems integration, implementation and consulting services.
The actual scope of the deal is unknown because the approximately 2,200 not-for-profit hospitals affiliated with VHA make their own purchasing decisions. But VHA officials say the PACS business is on the verge of a boom.
"We're getting a very, very high level of interest right now," says Richard Howe, vice president for information technology consulting at VHA.
Howe says that hospitals are moving to PACS as their film-based imaging systems reach the end of their serviceable life because equipment vendors have stopped making the old technology and PACS implementation requires detailed planning. "All the new equipment is digital now," he says.
According to Howe, Xtria will help healthcare facilities plan for PACS implementation, which often includes redesigning floor plans to accommodate the new equipment, training clinicians and providing links to existing IT systems.
"People are trying to integrate PACS into electronic medical records," Howe notes.
In addition, more than just radiology departments are looking at digital imaging technology.
"Now, PACS is being used as an enterprisewide system," Howe says. "Now you have to plan PACS as if every physician in your organization is going to use it."
The Xtria services contract comes two months after Novation, the supply subsidiary of VHA, and the Oak Brook, Ill.-based University HealthSystem Consortium, representing academic medical centers, announced three-year PACS equipment contracts with Fujifilm Medical Systems, McKesson/ALI, GE Medical Systems Information Technology and Afga Medical Systems.
Xtria, based in Richardson, Texas, is a unit of publicly traded business services company Xanser Corp., headquartered in the same Dallas suburb.