Company signs onto rural telemedicine projectsTeleradiology has captured the imagination of the imaging community,but mastering the technology and conducting the marketing foran expanded network has kept some prospective users at bay. Thathas
Teleradiology has captured the imagination of the imaging community,but mastering the technology and conducting the marketing foran expanded network has kept some prospective users at bay. Thathas opened a niche for Access Radiology, a Waltham, MA, companythat sees itself as a provider of teleradiology solutions, ratherthan a technology integrator.
"There are a lot of people out there who feel that teleradiologyis the right thing to do, but they don't have the time, abilityor resources to do the development," said Dan Trott, vicepresident of sales and marketing for Access.
Trott joined Access in December 1994 after serving as vicepresident of sales and marketing for Kodak's Health Imaging SystemsPACS subsidiary.
Access offers its services in several packages, ranging froma comprehensive teleradiology system to smaller products. Clientsbuying into the comprehensive product, called Teleradiology SystemImplementation, get a teleradiology system built to suit the needsof the institution, including network design, equipment selection,system implementation, and user training and support.
Elements of this package, which are also sold to clients asseparate products, include the marketing, training and businessplan development that go into establishing and building a network,as well as the management and support of the network after itis up and running.
Further, Access can cut down on the risk to the teleradiologynovice by converting the up-front capital cost of equipment toa monthly consumable charge. The equipment could, for example,be owned by Access, rather than by the institution. In that case,service charges are passed on to the user in much the same waythat fee-per-scan arrangements are structured. The equipment canalso be leased by Access to the client.
The success of this approach has been made easier by the experiencethat key Access executives have had in the financial community.CEO Scott Sheldon, co-founder Michael Schmertzler and severalboard members joined Access after working in the investment bankingcommunity. As a result, the privately held company, which wasfounded in 1992, has been able to draw from a variety of fundingresources to underwrite its efforts, Trott said.
Access has signed on as a partner with Eastman Kodak, AT&Tand other companies in the Oklahoma Telemedicine Project. Accessis also a participant in and board member of the North CarolinaTelemedicine Project. Both state efforts were established to providespecialty radiology services in rural areas. The strength of thecompany lies in its ability to connect different groups in thenetwork, effectively manage the data across the system, and keepthe system running.
Other products offered by Access are subsets of the TeleradiologySystem Implementation product offering. Network Management andSupport is designed to help users manage networks that are alreadyinstalled. Access provides the means for tracking informationflow, identifying the location of image origin and destination,and tracking time of delivery, as well as the size of the transmission.These data, along with the expertise and methods employed by Accessstaff, provide the support needed to keep the network up and running.
"It puts Access in the role of fault isolation, whichgives a user of a complex system a professional network managerto help track down the component of their system that is at faultand resolve that problem," Trott said.
The third Access product, Teleradiology Co-Marketing Services,comes into play at the earliest stages of network development.It may also be used when the administrators of the network wantto expand the system.
Despite the support provided by Access, the obstacles to teleradiologyremain formidable, especially the need to overcome differencesin hardware and software used in various imaging systems. Trottexpects that adoption of the ACR-NEMA's DICOM 3.0 standard willreduce but not eliminate those problems.
"We anticipate that with the variety of implementationsof DICOM, it will still be a major challenge," he said.