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Agfa and Mitra launch new PACS software firm


Agfa and Mitra launch new PACS software firmImpax Technology will also market software to OEMsAgfa and its PACS software developer Mitra Imaging have inked a letter of intent to create Impax Technology, a new PACS software development

Agfa and Mitra launch new PACS software firm

Impax Technology will also market software to OEMs

Agfa and its PACS software developer Mitra Imaging have inked a letter of intent to create Impax Technology, a new PACS software development company. Based in Waterloo, Ontario, in a building adjoining Mitra's headquarters, Impax Technology will be a jointly owned firm charged with developing Impax software, an undertaking that Mitra has performed for over eight years.

Terms of the ownership structure of Impax Technology were not released. The new company does, however, raise Mitra's role with Impax from purely a software developer to a partner with a vested stake in the commercial success of the product, said Eric Peterson, CEO of Mitra and of Impax Technology. Although Agfa's exclusive radiology PACS software development contract expired earlier this year, that event was not the driving force behind the launch of Impax Technology, Peterson said.

"Since the end of last summer, there was a real commitment to put the relationship on a proper footing," he said.

Mitra's dedicated Impax development team, along with some new hires, will make up the initial 40-person staff of Impax Technology. A head count increase to 55 is planned by the end of the year, Peterson said. Impax Technology and Mitra will share some infrastructure elements, but all product development at the two firms will remain separate.

Technology development plans are already under way. While Impax has experienced much success as a large-scale PACS offering, the new company will be working to develop configurations to attract more entry-level PACS business, such as from smaller institutions and clinics, Peterson said. As part of this initiative, Windows NT-based servers will added to Impax by mid-summer. The addition will add scalability advantages, he said.

"That will give us the opportunity to have the server, client, and maybe an integrated Web server all on the same platform, which is particularly attractive for clinics or teleradiology applications," he said.

The latest Agfa software release, Impax 4.0, added NT-based client software as a complement to the firm's Unix-based offerings. Impax Technology is also exploring the possibility of expanding the product to cover cardiology and other image-intensive areas of the hospital, such as endoscopy and pathology.

Agfa may not be the only company to benefit from development work at Impax Technology. The two firms are interested in pursuing additional distribution channels for Impax, said Patrick Artinoff, worldwide head of Impax Solutions for Ridgefield Park, NJ-based Agfa.

"If there's a vendor that, for example, requires some archiving technology for a modality, Impax Technology has the mandate to go out and mine that opportunity," Artinoff said.

Modality vendors would be the primary targets for these kinds of OEM relationships, although vendors participating in other imaging-related areas of the hospital might also benefit from Impax offerings, said Bob Cooke, head of Impax Solutions for the NAFTA region. Cooke envisions a consortium of vendors that would use Impax technology as the primary platform for their PACS offerings.

With the launch of Impax Technology, Mitra will focus on expanding the breadth of its own offerings for healthcare information systems outside of the radiology department. In particular, Peterson expects that technology similar to its PACS Broker PACS/HIS/RIS interface will be deployed in other clinical environments. Cardiology in particular will be an area of increased interest, he said.

"We feel that our connectivity products can deliver even greater value in cardiology because of the complexity of information that needs to be integrated," he said.

In the echocardiography sector, Mitra is already working with companies such as Acuson and Hewlett-Packard. Other cardiology partners include Philips Medical Systems (cath lab); Spacelabs Medical and GE Marquette Medical Systems (ECG); Prucka Engineering (electrophysiology), and Seattle Systems (cardiology reporting).

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