Q&A: How Synapse PACS Overcomes the Unique Challenges of Healthcare’s Government Sector

AUTHOR: Wade Davis, National Director, Government Sales, FUJIFILM Healthcare Americas Corporation

  1. FUJIFILM Healthcare Americas Corporation was recently awarded a joint Pacific Air Force and Navy contract from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for Synapse PACS. Why is this win so significant?

It’s a great honor for Fujifilm to be granted this award. The full process for this type of contract is incredibly comprehensive, from the Request for Offer (RFO) to the final announcement of Synapse being selected as the vendor of choice. Though we were the existing vendor for this contract, when it came up for renewal, we needed to respond as if it were net new.

Synapse PACS had already proven its ability to drive communications between several remote military treatment facilities (MTFs) and integrate with all of the sites’ peripheral systems, but its capabilities expand well beyond that. For example, the platform has a number of native tools that are not common within today’s standard PACS. It also includes a robust analytics package, Chat feature, peer review, and urgent findings. These can also work as independent applications or be integrated within other existing clinical systems.

At Fujifilm, we’re also not only dedicated to providing the United States government with superior systems that meet mandated requirements. We also provide a devoted team of specialists that go beyond what is typically expected.  It’s that rigorous devotion to the government sector that I personally believe helped us to achieve this significant win.

  1. It sounds like Fujifilm takes a really comprehensive and personalized approach to these types of contracts. Can you talk a bit more about why that is so important for healthcare’s government sector in particular?

Healthcare is not a static industry. Its care tactics, technologies, and operational requirements constantly evolve. So at Fujifilm, we know that we must evolve in tandem. For example, even after the recent DoD award was granted, changes were made to better fit their emerging needs, such as personnel reallocations.  Synapse PACS server-side architecture allows users to move reading locations, so that was never an issue. It also reduces hardware requirements and helps streamline integration efforts.

When it comes to deployment flexibility, we know each contract is somewhat unique. Because of that, we tailor our approach to meet the specific needs of each individual region or customer. For the recent DoD contract, my expectation is that the deployment will demonstrate the ability for Synapse PACS to conform to the industry’s ever-changing requirements without requiring a cumbersome upgrade. Government is incredibly unique when it comes to its healthcare needs.

  1. What do you consider some of the greatest challenges of this sector to be?

The government faces many of the same challenges present within the commercial market, such as the need to do more with less, and reduce costs while simultaneously provide unmatched care quality. In healthcare’s government sector, it’s often mandated that all deployed solutions have a mobile or remote component that supports anytime, anywhere access. That degree of instant accessibility is often critical to support service personnel in the field.

PACS is only one aspect of the challenges that the government faces as they standardize many of their systems. Inner connectivity and a higher level of integrations are critical for providing the highest level of care, especially with the vast array of technologies that are required by the government. For example, the government is increasingly focused on preventative care and Women’s Health.  These areas bring broader challenges related to connecting patients with care specialists at anytime from anywhere. We strategically designed Synapse to allow users to view mammography/tomography along with all other modality imaging from a single centralized application. Not only does that type of architecture display the complete patient health picture to providers, it also streamlines their workflow.

Finally, I anticipate the unification of all Defense Health Agency (DHA) branches resulting in a new standard of care, and we’re excited to see how our technology can support that evolution as well.

  1. Are there other examples of how Fujifilm addresses those challenges, both from a software architecture and personnel perspective?

From the conception of Synapse PACS, the product has always been a pioneering platform. A number of the core PACS technologies that are still relied on every day started with Fujifilm’s Synapse PACS. As I mentioned earlier, Fujifilm is in a constant state of evolution where it continuously pushes the boundaries of what technology can do. After all, Synapse was the world’s first commercially available “internet” PACS and laid the roadmap for other PACS to follow. We also helped lead the way with other key features and functionalities, such as a vendor-neutral architecture, and the ability for users to view multiple PACS studies from a single worklist.

From a personnel perspective, the Fujifilm team makes it a point to go beyond what is expected. It’s important that we look at the entire provider workflow and try to rectify any issues that expand outside of PACS whenever possible. For example, we work with our customers when they request to make changes on the fly, such as changing the exam priority status without having to make changes in the electronic health record (EHR), which greatly improves workflow efficiencies.

We also know that, in general, healthcare is looking to consolidate its vendor footprint. To support that, Fujifilm released its unified, enterprise PACS Synapse 7x. The first-of-its-kind technology unites our 2022 Best in KLAS Synapse Radiology PACS, Cardiology PACS, and VNA on one universal viewer, with dozens of native 3D and AI applications at the user’s fingertips to further enhance diagnostic confidence. This robust solution can also support cloud-based implementations. And best of all, those features and functionalities are available to any user, whether they’re a clinician at a local Veterans Affairs Hospital or on in a combat zone.

  1. What impact do you see the government’s Enterprise Imaging strategy having on healthcare as a whole?

When it comes to a comprehensive enterprise imaging strategy, it cannot be a piece meal approach. Relying on disparate systems and workflows will not be effective. Fujifilm’s Synapse Enterprise Imaging portfolio, for example, is hardware independent, browser friendly, and shares a unified platform that includes everything from a zero-download viewer to the industry-leading VNA.  Our clinical systems use the same backend and graphical user interface (GUI) to provide a seamless single point of data access for clinicians. Radiology and cardiology can view, dictate, and document all information with a single sign-on.  When you add supporting applications, like Fujifilm’s advanced imaging or our Enterprise Information System (EIS), our portfolio can support that holistic level of care for any sized facility all through a single point of access.

When it comes to an Enterprise Imaging strategy, the government sector has been trailblazing that initiative ever since the first digital imaging network (DIN)-PACS contract.  It was the original DIN-PACS that pushed PACS into optimization of radiology imaging, and I expect the government sector to continue to use the latest technologies to deliver superior care quality to patients.

I believe the next adaptation within healthcare’s government sector will come in two parts. The first is in the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in clinical applications.  AI will become a critical component for enhancing care quality for today’s service personnel and veterans. I expect AI to be used in all facets of healthcare, spanning from diagnostic prediction and prevention to trauma evaluations. AI will be proactivity integrated into the workflow and assist with diagnostics where resources may be limited.  AI may also be used to track and monitor small pathology changes for our veterans and even assist in actual procedures.  It is an exciting time!

The DHA and VA are also looking at how the cloud can help provide a more centralized archive and data management system.  The cloud could have a huge impact in the care of active service members and veterans alike. For example, the ability to provide a complete patient record regardless of where treatment occurs has immeasurable benefits. Such a move would also reduce or even eliminate the majority of hardware required to operate multiple individual systems. Centralizing and streamlining security efforts could also assist in the management and protection of healthcare data from viruses and ransom attacks, which is also very appealing.

  1. If you could relay one message to our customers and prospects about Fujifilm’s position in the government sector, what would it be?

Our government needs instant information access to extensive patient information to provide high-quality care to our nation’s active and non-active military personnel. At the same time, the number of clinical specialists that rely on advanced imaging is continuing to grow at an astronomical rate. Fujifilm’s extensive Synapse Enterprise Imaging portfolio has evolved for more than two decades, with our latest Synapse PACS release in deployment for more than six years. All of our vast Synapse solutions give users the flexibility they need to deliver high-quality care to their patients, whenever and wherever that may be.

Fujifilm’s commitment to serving our military and veterans medical needs with the most advanced technologies has never been stronger.  Our Synapse PACS has continued to see tremendous growth in the private sector through the implementation of our server-side rendering technology. With the expansion of Fujifilm’s government team, which spans local sales, national representation, and deployment teams, we’re looking forward to continuing that momentum as new features and functionalities are introduced to the market.