Epson, Philips Agree on Universal Printer Driver for Medical Imaging

Philips ultrasound imaging equipment will now be able to print from Epson inkjet and WorkForce all-in-one printers using an ESC/P-R universal print driver.

Epson America and Royal Philips Electronics announced a partnership to make Philips ultrasound medical imaging equipment compatible with Epson inkjet and WorkForce all-in-one printers via the ESC/P-R universal print driver. ESC/P-R is the name for the Epson printer language.

The high-frequency sound waves in ultrasound produce many types of images in the medical field, including images of the heart (echocardiogram) or fetuses in the womb.

According to Shahid Shah, CEO of technology consulting firm Netspective Communications and author of the Healthcare IT Guy blog, the agreement between the two companies announced Aug. 11 creates a universal print driver to avoid use of expensive medical industry printers. "Normally, the printers attached to Philips ultrasound devices are specialized (usually thermal) printers, and with this new printer driver, they could be connected to off-the-shelf Epson inkjet printers," he explained to eWEEK.

"By going to a common driver model, it allows their customers to swap out the printers when they wear out, and the medical-equipment folks don't have to deal with the fallout," Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group, told eWEEK.

Enderle noted that since medical clinicians produce high-resolution images, using the right printer driver is important.

"When you have equipment that will literally last decades, it's not a permanent fix but definitely a better fix than what was in place in the past. Companies often don't last as long as some of this equipment does."

The Epson ESC/P-R printer driver works with many types of medical devices, including measuring equipment and electronic whiteboards. According to Epson, the driver supports all paper sizes and printing modes, and is compatible with consumer electronics devices and embedded equipment.

R. Craig Allen, Epson's product manager of consumer inkjets, noted that health care clinics will benefit from additional printing choices. "Now health care clinics and hospitals worldwide that use Philips ultrasound devices will have more flexibility when selecting a dependable printer or all-in-one to print patient information with ease and clarity," Allen said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Andrew Hatt, Philips Healthcare's vice president, business unit controller and interim general manager for Ultrasound, noted that the universal drivers will simplify the customer's experience. The takeaway, according to Enderle: "If that's not the business you're in, let someone else deal with it. That's specifically what the medical equipment folks did, and that's probably showcasing a best practice," he said.