Agfa PACS pioneer Primo takes marketing job at Siemens

March 1, 1998

Agfa PACS pioneer Primo takes marketing job at SiemensExecutive will tackle comprehensive healthcare info systemsAgfa lost another PACS veteran last month after Henri "Rik" Primo left the Belgian company for a job with rival

Agfa PACS pioneer Primo takes marketing job at Siemens

Executive will tackle comprehensive healthcare info systems

Agfa lost another PACS veteran last month after Henri "Rik" Primo left the Belgian company for a job with rival Siemens Medical Systems. Primo's responsibilities with Siemens will include spearheading the Iselin, NJ, vendor's development of enterprise-wide healthcare information systems.

Primo's departure follows that of Vishal Wanchoo, another prominent Agfa PACS executive who left the company several months ago to lead the digital image management division of GE Medical Systems (PNN 12/97). Primo's title is marketing manager with Siemens' Managed Healthcare Services business unit, which includes the company's PACS operations. Primo reports to Reinhard Schmidt, vice president of the division.

Primo was one of three executives, including Wanchoo and Geert Claeys, who were instrumental in the development of Agfa's PACS program in the early 1990s, and Primo wrote the original business plan for Agfa's foray into PACS.

Despite the failures of PACS in the 1980s, Agfa saw PACS as a promising opportunity for making healthcare more efficient by improving the work flow of radiology departments, a concept that is now an accepted principle of PACS cost-justification studies. At the same time, the company believed that there were few other firms taking the right approach to the market.

"The problem was not film cost, but the fact that film has to be handled and processed," Primo said. "We took a work-flow approach to the problem."

Rather than develop proprietary hardware and software for its system, Agfa decided instead to use off-the-shelf technology, such as Oracle database software. The company also placed a priority on supporting industry standards, such as the ACR-NEMA's DICOM 2.0 and 3.0 protocols. Another advantage for the company was that it was not burdened by legacy technology and the need to support a large installed base.

Agfa in 1993 began selling its first PACS product, an ultrasound miniPACS network, and expanded to full-scale PACS in subsequent years. The company soon became one of the two most prominent vendors of PACS networks, vying neck-and-neck with Siemens for sales to private-sector hospitals.

Primo sees major changes on the horizon as the PACS market matures. Hospitals soon will be demanding comprehensive, enterprise-wide solutions to their information technology needs, rather than balkanized, department-level systems like PACS. Developing and marketing enterprise-wide offerings will be Primo's priority at Siemens.

"We're entering a new era in which PACS is a only a small part of the total information picture of a hospital," Primo said. "To be successful, you will have to address the problems of the hospital in a comprehensive way, and you'll have to look to the comprehensive electronic patient record. PACS will be important, but will only be part of the total picture."