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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Provided Answers

Archiving and Data

What is covered in my Keystone ImageSafe (archiving) subscription?
Per-Study archiving plans include the following items:
  • Automatic updates and upgrades to Asteris Keystone PACS and viewing software
  • Technical support for Asteris Keystone PACS and viewing software
  • Unlimited offsite archiving
  • Monthly reports detailing archiving activity, including study and archive dates, patients, owners, number of images, and modalities
  • Offsite data access through our web portal
  • Support for users that receive images sent from Keystone Workhorse or our web portal
  • No extended contracts. You may cancel at any time.
Who owns my archived data?
You. Should you choose to cancel your archiving subscription, Asteris will provide all archived images and related data on portable media upon payment of the final invoice. We will also never distribute your data without your knowledge or consent.

How does Asteris store and transfer data across computer networks?
When our PACS or viewing software receives data from a modality or other imaging device, the associated files are analyzed for integrity and then packaged in our patented file format. This format implements encryption, hashing, and lossless compression algorithms to ensure the highest levels of security and data integrity, as well as optimization of storage space requirements and network transfer speeds.

Does your packaged file format degrade my data in any way?
No. Our file format encrypts and shrinks the file for security and optimization, but when it is viewed or transferred to a third-party imaging product, it is bit-for-bit the same file that was originally received by the modality. In some cases, we will manipulate some of the patient information for proper display in third-party products, but this is only performed with consent, and does not affect the actual image data.

How much data can the Asteris offsite servers handle?
Our server infrastructure is designed to be scalable and have no limits on storage space. As our customer base and data volumes increase, we simply add more storage devices to our data centers.

Are their backups of my backups?
We have gone to great lengths to assure that we never lose a single byte of your data. Each storage device in our data centers is mirrored, meaning we always have two copies. Should a device fail, our technical support crew is immediately notified, and our server software simply looks to the secondary device for the data until the failed device is replaced. This architecture is costly for us, but maximizes “up-time” and ensures that you get your data when you need it. Enterprise-level subscriptions can also implement the ability to mirror data between multiple data centers, yielding a configuration of ultimate redundancy.

How long is my data stored?
For most archiving subscriptions, data is retained on our servers for 7 years. This can be extended; please contact us for further possibilities.

Will my data be compressed or degraded after a term on your offsite servers?
Unlike most offsite storage vendors, we will never alter your data for storage space optimization. Should your data ever be required for liability reasons, you should be able to provide it in the same state that it was used for diagnosis.

How long does recovery take if I lose my data at my practice?
If your local data is lost due to computer failure or other disaster, we can potentially have you operational in a matter of minutes. If we can immediately install a new copy of Keystone PACS on another machine with internet connectivity at your practice, your data records will automatically begin synchronizing with our offsite servers. Depending on your volume of data, actual image synchronization may take significantly longer, but requires no user intervention. If you need to view images that have not yet synchronized, no problem – they will be downloaded on demand.

We would prefer to have a full copy of all data on-site (or at another location/facility), is this possible?
This is not required as a full disaster recovery option; data is backed up to the Asteris offsite servers when it is received by the PACS software. If you absolutely need a full copy of all data on-site, we can work with you to facilitate this. The Asteris PACS software has the ability to synchronize data between multiple locations. This allows you to share images between your locations/facilities with no effort because the software makes sure that all PACS servers have the same data.

Software Features and Capabilities

With which modality vendors and types can Keystone use?
We are proud to state that we are the only veterinary-oriented imaging company that strives to deal with all types of modalities from all different vendors and manufacturers. For years we have been enhancing our imaging modules to accept, process, and view data from as many devices as we have encountered in the field, and whatever else we can find. We even play nicely with non-DICOM images as well as DICOM images that fail DICOM specifications.

Does Asteris support Radiology reports?
Features such as automatic field population, voice dictation capability, and side-by-side image display significantly reduce time spent filling out reports. Asteris software contains several common reporting templates and templates can be customized to fit specific needs. Reports are stored offsite for seven years to comply with legal liabilities and most Veterinary Practice Acts. The reports can be printed, saved as PDF files and sent via email.

How does Asteris handle firewalls, VPNs and other network configurations?
Virtual Private Networking, Terminal Service Connections, and Virtual/Remote Desktop applications are commonly offered as solutions for remote PACS data retrieval. While effective in the actual data access, these options are generally accompanied by a significant performance decrease; relative to local access speeds. Moreover, they require that firewall ports be opened to establish the connections, compromising network security. While firewall technology had made significant advances over the past few years, none are “hack-proof” and all large-scale devices require knowledgeable network administrators to maintain them.The Asteris PACS was designed to eliminate the network administration, components, and maintenance typically required to allow for remote PACS data access. The Asteris PACS will package and send all data received from assigned modalities to the offsite Asteris PACS servers immediately upon receiving it. While all “local” (single network or subnet at the clinic) network users will reference data on the onsite PACS server(s), users working away from campus or on a separate network will connect to the Asteris offsite servers to reference copies the data. Upon a request for PACS data, the Asteris software determines whether or not it can connect to the local PACS server. If it cannot, it will attempt to retrieve the data from the offsite servers. Thus from a user’s perspective, the software operates in the same manner, regardless of their physical location. In the event that a user requires remote access to data but does not have access to their local network (for example, while traveling to a conference), they can login to the Asteris web site, enter the pertinent search criteria, and retrieve the desired data.

Is Keystone DICOM compliant? How does Asteris handle changes to the DICOM Standard?
Asteris PACS software is DICOM compliant and our conformance statement can be found here. (Need to add link to the conformance statement here) Data received from DICOM modalities will be processed in a manner that allows for expansion and changes to the DICOM standard as published by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). Asteris also has modules package non-DICOM device data into DICOM format and are structured to be compliant with current (3.0) DICOM standards, and will allow for the anticipated expansion of veterinary-specific DICOM elements.

Software Operation

How do I send DICOM images to Keystone?
You will need the following items to establish a DICOM transfer relationship from your modality to Keystone:
  • Computer name or IP address of the machine running Keystone PACS:
    • Computer name:
      • Locate your My Computer icon.
      • Right-click on the icon and select Properties from the resulting context menu.
      • If you are using Microsoft Windows Vista or higher, click on the Advanced system settings link towards the top left of the window.
      • When the System Properties dialog box opens, click on the Computer Name tab; the name is displayed next to Full computer name.
    • IP Address:
      • On your keyboard, press the Windows Key (flag, between Ctrl and Alt) and the letter “R” simultaneously. This will produce the Windows Run dialog box.
      • Type cmd in the Open text box and press the Enter key; a Windows Command Prompt window should open.
      • Type ipconfig and press the Enter key.
      • Find the entry for the network connection through which the modality will be sending images. Typical network connection names are Local Area Connection and Wireless Network Connection.
      • The IP address is listed below the network connection name; it should be labeled IP Address or IPv4 Address.
      • If more than one IP address is listed, please contact your network administrator to determine the correct one.
  • Application Entity (AE) Title:
    • Open Asteris Keystone Client and log in with credentials from an administrative account.
    • Click on the SETTINGS button at the bottom-left part of the window.
    • Click on the SERVER SETTINGS button under the ADMIN section.
    • If there is more than one, click on the tab displaying the pertinent server’s name.
    • The AE Title is listed under the DICOM SERVER heading. The default value is “KEYSTONE”.
    • The case of the AE Title matters! Make sure you record the value using the correct combination of upper and lower-case letters.
  • TCP Port Number:
    • Open Asteris Keystone Client and log in with credentials from an administrative account.
    • Click on the SETTINGS button at the bottom-left part of the window.
    • Click on the SERVER SETTINGS button under the ADMIN section.
    • If there is more than one, click on the tab displaying the pertinent server’s name.
    • The port number is listed under the DICOM SERVER heading. The default value is 104.
Once you have obtained the three items, contact the modality vendor – they can walk you through the required steps for entering the data. Please note that you may need to create a rule or exception for firewall software running on the Keystone PACS machine. Please contact your computer or network administrator for further details.

Can I get a virus or Trojan from an Asteris email?  Why is my anti-virus software reporting Keystone as a virus?
No – We release our software in an “obfuscated” package, built on a virus-free machine. Obfuscated software has been scrambled up so it cannot be broken apart by anyone outside of our company. Advantages:
  • All pertinent executable files, libraries, and supplementary files are bundled into a single executable file.
  • Program functionality cannot be extracted or reverse-engineered from binary files.
  • The executable file is not prone to virus injection since it cannot be broken apart in a usable manner.
  • Instead of embedding or including required system files, the program copies required files to the sandbox before the actual program execution begins, reducing the risk of propagating a virus.
  • The executable program runs in its own environment space (sandbox). This is important to geeks; I can give you the details if you want them.

We have encountered warnings of our software containing viruses with a few people using our download/import software from our web site or emails. In every case, we have determined that the machine in question was already infected with a virus (usually a Trojan horse) that was effectively hiding itself from the virus scanner. Breakdown steps:
  • User launches the Asteris software.
  • The utility creates a sandbox, copying in any system files required for operation.
  • One or more of the system files is infected with a virus, but has been masked from the virus scanner by being located in a system directory (typically C:\Windows or C:\Windows\System32).
  • Once copied out of the system directory and into the sandbox directory (which is not masked by the virus), the virus scanner detects the threat and notifies the user.
  • Since the notification occurred during launch of the Asteris program (which subsequently fails because it is denied access to the system file it copied), the user makes the logical assumption that the Asteris program is infected. This conclusion is further solidified by the fact that the virus scanner displays the path of the infected file, which is in the sandbox directory path that includes the text “Asteris”.

We have also encountered several situations where Asteris software is incorrectly identified as a virus.  Most anti-virus software now has behavioral and heuristic rules.  These rules look for programs that do not match a known virus definition but match some behaviors that the anti-virus company considers suspicious.  Some of these rules are things like:
  • Applications downloaded from the internet
  • Applications that perform a lot communication with servers on the internet
  • Applications that try to install additional components
  • Applications that the anti-virus software hasn’t encountered frequently

Our Asteris Keystone Suite and our online DICOM viewer meet all of these criteria.  Our software also gets identified as a virus every time it auto-updates itself because the anti-virus software sees that our programs have a different signature and the anti-virus engine re-evaluates our programs.  When our software is identified as a virus, the virus name will typically be something like “Heu” or “Gen”.  This is an indication that the anti-virus software hasn’t found a “real” virus but has simply found an application that “could” be a virus.  But the anti-virus software is written to treat these the same as every other virus.  The end result is that our software is quarantined.  The solutions are specific to the anti-virus software being used.  Some of them let you disable the behavioral and heuristic rules engines (this isn’t ideal because it could theoretically open you to unknown viruses).  Some anti-virus software can be configured to ignore the Asteris installation directories.

If Asteris software is identified as a virus, you should look for the virus name and/or identifier in the anti-virus logs.  You can do a quick web search to figure out which rule is identifying our software as a virus and change the anti-virus configuration accordingly.
Here are links to details about the heuristic engines for a few anti-virus companies (if you want to geek out).
When I click on the link in an email sent from Keystone, I receive a message stating that I need Microsoft .NET framework 3.5 – do I?
Microsoft .NET framework 3.5 is a widely-used software development platform that is required to perform many of the medical image-oriented features we offer. Please contact our technical support staff if you believe you are being issued this warning in error.
  • Windows XP users- You can check to see if you have the framework installed by going to your control panel and opening the Add/Remove Programs. Scroll down the list and look for “Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1”. If it is not displayed, go to Microsoft’s Windows Update site, and install it from the Optional Components section. You will need to re-boot your computer after the install to operate our software.
  • If you have Windows Vista or 7, Microsoft .NET 3.5 is installed as part of the operating system.
  • If you have the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 installed, you may be using an internet browser that does not support the entire framework, such as Google Chrome, some versions of Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. With these browsers, you currently can only view JPEG images or download .ZIP files containing the DICOM files.

How is my Keystone software updated?
Local installations of Keystone software (Workhorse, PACS, etcetera) automatically update themselves when we release updates. This ensures that you always have the latest versions with all of the enhancements and fixes. You can see a list of recent changes here.

Does Asteris Keystone work with Macs or other portable devices?
We currently offer Keystone PACS or Workhorse for any operating system other than Microsoft Windows. To accommodate, we can install on Macs running Parallels or Boot Camp. You can also view your images in JPEG format from our web site using any device with an internet browser. We are actively developing a new viewer that will be compatible with all devices and operating systems, but Keystone PACS will continue to require MS Windows.

Can I open an email on my Mac that was sent from a Keystone product?
Yes, but you will need to use the either the JPEG viewer or download the corresponding ZIP file to your desktop and import the contained files into Osirix or another DICOM viewer.