Focus On

This practice rotates around its axis

FOCUS ON . . .

This Practice Rotates Around Its Axis

Robert Murphy, Contributing Editor

The Axis Image Management system from Sonomed Escalon allows busy retina practices to manage their voluminous image databases with ease. Several image management systems elbow for space at the table, each with its own claims to excellence. What makes Axis unique? Besides reliability, the system excels at speed, connectivity and conversion, according to the company.

Speed. Axis's use of “image pushing” renders images immediately available without waiting for download queues, the manufacturer says.

Connectivity. Axis allows you to easily manage images from any diagnostic device regardless of modality, manufacturer or location.

“Primarily I use fluorescein angiography, fundus imaging and OCT,” says Jon Gieser, MD, a Chicago-based retina specialist at the Wheaton Eye Clinic. “We have a variety of OCT devices. We use ultrasonography occasionally. The glaucoma specialists use visual fields. And we have topography units. I don't think there's anything with digital output that cannot be incorporated into the Axis database.”

Axis is accessible with any standard Web browser on a variety of Internet-connected devices, including PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads and other tablet PCs. Axis integrates diagnostic results with EHR using the system's Direct Access option or HL7, according to the Sonomed Web site.

Dr. Gieser considers the image quality excellent. “The images are, for all practical purposes, equivalent to the beta-instrument images,” he says.

Conversion. Axis is designed to readily facilitate conversion from a previous image-management system, making it easy to transfer and retain large numbers of patient records and archived images.

Easy conversion was especially favorable for Dr. Gieser, whose practice obtained Axis about 18 months ago after encountering technical and customer support problems — including trouble with connectivity — with a competitive system. “The transition was relatively simple and straightforward,” says Dr. Gieser, whose practice went to all-digital imaging nearly 10 years ago. “We had enormous quantities of images that needed to be moved over to the new system.”

Axis: Imaging that's easy to store, organize and share.

Axis also comes with reliable support. “I found the customer support to be the best in the business,” Dr. Gieser says. “For me that was very important, because I had the unfortunate experience of using other systems without adequate technical support.”

The staff adapted quickly to using Axis. A system that's intuitively simple to learn and operate, “it required virtually no training at all,” Dr. Gieser says, and he's received no complaints. “I take from that they have no problems,” Dr. Gieser says. In a busy practice, absence of trouble counts as success.


Spread out across Chicago's western suburbs at four separate sites, the Wheaton Eye Clinic practitioners find plenty of demand for sharing images from one office to the next, or throughout the entire practice network. Various image-composition features allow you to view multiple images and text on a single screen, compare images from previous visits and even create a montage of conjoined fundus images to visualize the entire retina.

What about telemedical consults? “It's helped tremendously,” Dr. Gieser says. “If the images are loaded into our central database, then I can view them anywhere and provide an opinion.”

Axis has also improved practice efficiency and patient flow. “We wanted to integrate Axis with our EHR,” Dr. Gieser says, “so that when we have a patient selected in the EHR, all of the patient's studies in Axis are accessible at the touch of a button. That enhances workflow in the office.” One final benefit for Dr. Gieser: the system was priced lower than comparable image management systems.

Summing up, Dr. Gieser says, “We rely heavily on the system. It just works for us.” RP

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