RSNA 2010: Siemens Press Conference

There are various badges around RSNA, Blue for Members (like me), Crimson/Brown for exhibitors, and Pink for Press, to name a few.  I thought it might be amusing to have Press credentials, but Mike Cannavo, the One and Only PACSMan, and the good folks at AuntMinnie.com discouraged me from this ambition.  It seems the Members badge gets you in more places, so there really is no point downgrading.  Still, slumming might have been fun.  But no matter.

Someone on the Siemens publicity team thought I deserved to be considered a member of the press for a moment or two, and invited me to their press conference held this morning.  As it inclued breakfast, I hauled myself downtown for the 7:30AM event.  I sat at a table full of legitimate healthcare reporters.  To my left was a lady who turned out to be quite a professional writer, as I found sitting next to her on the bus back north.  She was once a producer for a BIG networrk and had interviewed five Presidents.  She endeared herself to me by relating how she had gone head to head with GE and won earlier in the day.  To my right was Robin Leach from Healthy Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.  (Well, not reallly, but the gentleman did remind me of Mr. Leach.  We all had placards with our name and publication, and I proudly placed mine in front of my breakfast plate.  Robin looked at the card, looked at me, rolled his eyes, shook his head, and said, “A blogger, eh?”  I said, “Yes, Sir!” in my best South Carolina drawl, and let it go at that.

The presentation was quite well done, with Herman Requardt, President and CEO of Siemens Healthcare, leading the way.  The theme for RSNA, and Siemens in particular this year is “Personalized Medicine” which means “whom to treat how” or more likely “whom can we charge how much?”  The gist of the presentation is that more intelligent, tailored therapy is on the horizon.  We simply have to amass enough data (with Siemens scanners) and then process said data (with Siemens syngo.whatever) to find the best approach.  Despite my tongue-in-cheek attitude, this is truly exciting stuff, and I like the Siemens approach.  Siemens likes their approach as well, and the claim was made that the rest of the world does as well, with Dr. Bernd Montag, CEO of Imaging and Therapy Systems Division stating that Siemens is Number ONE in market share, installed base, and profitability in this space.  I don’t doubt it.  Dr. Montag cited the new hybrid PET and MR scanner, the mMR, which will only set your hospital back $4-5 Million or so.  “We have the right culture,” he said.  “Yes, there was an economic crisis, but we continued to invest in R&D, and this is the result.”  He went on to elaborate on Siemens goals of improving patient safety through dose reduction measures and the use of imaging to facilitate minimally-invasive surgical procedures.  As an aside, he observed that there is a lot more animosity among radiologists whose imaging is stolen by non-radiologists than among surgeons whose invasive procdures are down-sized by radiology. 

With respect to dose-reduction, Dr. Montag took a shot at Siemens’ larGEst competitor:  “WE use absolute dose numbers and don’t try to fool people with this 30% reduction business.”  Siemens’ goal in this is to reduce the dose of ALL “typical” CT exams to less than 2.4 mSv.  And I’m sure they will do it.  And I’m sure we’ll all have to buy new scanners to achieve this.

To be complete, I should mention an excellent short review of Siemens mammography technology, including the yet-to-be approved tomosynthesis, given by Norbert Gaus, PhD.

Good stuff.  Maybe I’ll be invited to more of these events, although I can guess which companies won’t want me there.  Oh well. 

More to come.

ADDENDUM:  I spoke briefly with our GE CT rep just a few moments ago.  He said GE is shooting for a reduction to 1 mSv for all routine CT exams, and will no longer quote percentages of dose reductions.  That message sure got delivered quickly!  I can’t imagine what’s next.  Perhaps Toshiba will come up with a way to scan by drawing radiation out of the body, for a net dose of -5mSv.  You never know…

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