FairCom DB easy to embed and to use in top functional eye testing device
Knowing a person’s field of vision is an important function for ophthalmology and optometry professionals, especially when monitoring treatment of glaucoma. To do this, practitioners perform visual field testing with perimetry devices. The world’s premier producer of these vital medical devices is the Zeiss Foundation, with one of these products being the Humphrey® Field Analyzer 3 (HFA3).
The HFA3, developed by the Carl Zeiss Meditec division, is a perimetry device that delivers interactive analysis by providing a stimulus to the patient’s eye and then measuring the patient’s reaction to determine the field of vision. After the early stages of glaucoma development, the perimetry capabilities of HFA3 are used to determine how well the eye is working and which areas exhibit degraded or lost functionality.
Since glaucoma is a disease with a very long cycle, maintaining patient data to determine progression requires long-lived data. Patients may visit multiple doctors, who may use instruments of different generations or models to determine their current status. To integrate these data from multiple sources, in order to provide useful detection and trending, HFA3 requires sophisticated data management capabilities, and this is where FairCom DB comes into the picture.
Why FairCom DB?
FairCom database technology is both NoSQL and SQL, and it is trusted by companies around the world for its speed, reliability and ability to be easily embedded. These are extremely important attributes that many customers need, especially in the medical device industry. In fact, FairCom DB is the database of choice for a number of medical companies.
FairCom database technology has been embedded in current and past Carl Zeiss HFA systems (HFA II and HFA3) for more than 25 years. But legendary speed and reliability are not the only reasons why Zeiss uses FairCom DB. Zeiss Senior Manager of Glaucoma Systems Innovation Brad Gilbertson said FairCom DB is the right database for his product because of how it handles HFA’s complex data management needs.
“We added the FairCom database so our system could handle more sophisticated data compatibility needs with less programming support costs, and to get increased throughput,” he said. “With the success of the product line, we learned to rely on FairCom’s commitment to maintaining compatibility throughout the product lifecycle. Today, the HFA3 can continue product care for a patient that may have begun 30 years in the past, with perfect data continuity.”
In addition to easily working well with the current versions of the HFA, FairCom DB is compatible with the older versions of the medical device that are still in operation, some of which are approaching 30 years old. This is especially important for data transfer, such as when Zeiss’ customers upgrade from an older version of the HFA to a newer version. With FairCom DB, the transfer occurs at disk I/O speed instead of much slower serial processing speed.
“We realized that by incorporating a newer version of FairCom DB into our product, we could transfer data just by reading the old databases. We use a firehose instead of an eye dropper to transfer information from one system to the other,” Gilbertson said. “We used to rely on serial communications to sidestep technology obsolescence. Now, technology obsolescence is no longer a factor. Using FairCom DB has resulted in about a sixty-times performance increase for our data transfer.”
Over time, the HFA product line has become more advanced. Likewise, FairCom DB has continued to evolve, resulting in the Zeiss engineers having to perform minimal work to ensure that the embedded database continued to do the job that Zeiss needed.
Today, HFA3 uses Windows operating systems, with software written in C# and C++. FairCom DB works well with Windows and these programming languages, all at the same time and without the need of a database administrator.
In one instance, a Zeiss customer recently transferred several hundred thousand exams from a single older device to a newer device, a high volume of data that would have taken several days using past approaches. “We did that using the FairCom DB data transfer capability. The procedure was simple and there weren’t any problems,” Gilbertson said. “When we were done, the practitioner’s office staff simply began using the new system, without prolonged downtime.”
What does this mean to the end user?
The end-users of HFA are located all around the world. Their sizes range from small, one-doctor practices in remote locations to large hospitals in urban areas. The clientele also includes integrated delivery networks and prominent organizations such as the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
“To operate an HFA, you have to know your job as an eye doctor, or as a technician working for an eye doctor,” Gilbertson said. “But you don’t have to know anything about computers or technology.”
The data management capabilities of FairCom DB also allow for easy data transport, which is a basis for patient ownership of data, a concept that is emerging worldwide.
Using FairCom DB in one word: EASY
Embedding FairCom DB into the HFA systems, especially the most recent version (HFA3), has obviously provided benefits to the product development team and the customers. One would expect that it would require a lot of effort to accomplish the desired results. However, when asked how he would describe FairCom DB Gilbertson had a simple answer: “If I get just one word, I would say ‘easy.’ The ability to plug it in quickly was critical for us because it freed up much needed time to focus on other areas of product development.
“We’ve had to solve a bunch of problems with other databases, but we haven’t had to solve any FairCom DB problems.”
Zeiss’s successful relationship with FairCom is not limited to the technical side of the house. Gilbertson said working with FairCom has been easy for Zeiss as compared to working with some of the larger database vendors. “Dealing with [other vendors] for product manufacturing is complicated and they can be somewhat aggressive,” he said. “FairCom’s approach of dealing with us on an individual basis was a big advantage for us.”
Finally, when asked if he would recommend FairCom DB as an embedded database in other products within and outside the medical device industry, he said, “Absolutely … FairCom would be a good recommendation to other companies for IoT and embedded systems, because FairCom has the platform for it.”
FairCom Corporation database technology is among the fastest and most trusted on the market today. Since the company’s founding in 1979, FairCom products have been powering mission critical systems for global entities in a broad spectrum of industries, ranging from small and medium-sized businesses to high-profile enterprise level companies and government agencies. Currently, more than 40 percent of the Fortune 100 use FairCom for its database needs. FairCom’s product line is comprised of solutions for high-speed transactions, IIoT environments and legacy system modernization and migration. The product line includes FairCom DB, FairCom EDGE for Industry 4.0 and c-treeRTG data management solution for COBOL. Additional information about FairCom is available at FairCom.com.
ZEISS is an internationally leading technology enterprise operating in the fields of optics and optoelectronics. The ZEISS Group develops, produces and distributes measuring technology, microscopes, medical technology, eyeglass lenses, camera and cinema lenses, binoculars and semiconductor manufacturing equipment. With its solutions, the company constantly advances the world of optics and helps shape technological progress.
ZEISS is divided up into the four segments: Industrial Quality & Research, Medical Technology, Consumer Markets and Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology. The ZEISS Group is represented in more than 40 countries; it has over 50 sales and service locations, more than 30 manufacturing sites and about 25 research and development centers around the globe. Additional information about Carl Zeiss and HFA3 is available at Zeiss.com.