Diasonics MRI was an amazing success story – it was No. 2 in the race during the old days. With the development being UCSF-based, Diasonics had access to doctors on a routine basis. This was a wonderful thing for a start-up that is grounded on the Clinical/Technical Tie – having clinical experts and technical experts working side-by-side.
William G. Bradley, Jr, MD, PhD, was in his last year of medical school when he learned about Diasonics. He was staking his career around MRI as Diasonics was staking its company around MRI. We were in the same boat from the start, paddling together.
The early adopters were often private docs who were not as expert as the university players, and therefore relied on additional guidance. Bradley came up with the idea of the “over-read” concept. The docs would provide images to Bradley using teleradiology and receive clarification of the clinical findings from Bradley. This represented a major breakthrough in “customer engagement.”
It was a pleasure to talk with Bradley about business aspects of Diasonics MRI, for example, the sales strategy. Bradley, based on other consulting activities, had a feeling that the private market was going to play a key role in the expansion of MRI. After several strategy sessions, the approach that Diasonics followed came to fruition: Focus on the private market; selective in the hospital market; and opportunistic in the university market.
The philosophy was as follows:
• Private Market: Organizations were forming to build MRI centers. This included Texas Medical Equipment, Health Images, Medical Imaging Centers of America, and others. Being run by business people, they were in sync with the Diasonics’ “Total Business Solution” model. Bradley was an advisor to several of these groups.
• Hospital Market: Usually a very conservative market segment. Imagine a member of the decision committee asking radiology the question, “do GE and other large companies provide MRI?” Despite Bradley’s presentations, papers, etc., based on his work at UCSF and his Diasonics’ site at Memorial Research Center in Pasadena, it was an uphill battle not worth pursuing.
• University Market: Bradley’s efforts provided the confidence for UCSF, Memorial, University of Michigan, Orlando Regional Medical Center, and the University of Texas to make the big leap to buy from a start-up. These centers, all “triggered” by Bradley’s activity became the family that succeeded.
Bradley’s work with David Stark, MD, created a foundation publication – everyone knew about Bradley and, hence, about Diasonics. As the mobile market started to develop, Bradley once again played a powerhouse position in convincing Diasonics of the merits of mobile. Mobile was a key to finally getting the hospitals into the MRI business. Having the workstation inside the hospital kept the workflow at a high level. The MRI van was most often travelling between a number of sites or stationary on the hospital campus.
Throughout the above activities, it was wonderful to have Bradley on the team. He was, for Diasonics, Dr. MRI. Alex Margulis taught us that, “if you can’t see it on MRI, it’s only because you don’t have the appropriate driving algorithm.” Bradley found them for Diasonics.
We will all miss such an intelligent, caring, hard-driving team member.