ATL found that customers wanted larger solutionsUltrasound vendor ATL has reached an agreement with Eastman Kodakto sell its Nova MicroSonics image management division to theRochester, NY, film and PACS vendor. ATL made the move after findingthat
ATL found that customers wanted larger solutions
Ultrasound vendor ATL has reached an agreement with Eastman Kodakto sell its Nova MicroSonics image management division to theRochester, NY, film and PACS vendor. ATL made the move after findingthat customers were interested in image management solutions thatgo beyond just the ultrasound department, according to executiveswith the Bothell, WA, company.
Nova MicroSonics, of Allendale, NJ, developed ATL's Access ultrasoundimage management workstation and ImageVue echocardiography imagemanagement products. Access provides a means of storing, reviewing,and routing ultrasound images and is based on the ACR-NEMA's DICOM3.0 standard, while ImageVue enables clinicians to digitize stress-echoimages and integrate them into an image management network.
Kodak will acquire both the Access and ImageVue product lineswith the Nova purchase, and will take over service and supportof existing installations. Financial details of the acquisitionwere not released, but the companies said the transaction is notexpected to result in a material financial impact on either firm.Nova employs about 100 people.
The seeds of this month's acquisition were planted in 1994, whenATL and Kodak signed an agreement to integrate Access with Kodak'sline of PACS products (SCAN 2/1/95). The agreement was seen asa plus for both firms, giving Kodak access to a specialized ultrasoundworkstation while providing ATL with a link to larger PACS installations.Integration work between Access and Kodak's Digital Science PACSline was completed last year after Kodak finished developmentof its DICOM-based image acquisition units (SCAN 7/31/96).
Access competes with Acuson's Aegis, ALI Technologies' UltraPACS,and other image management systems. ATL began shipping Accessin 1995, and had 30 fully networked installations in place atthe time the Kodak acquisition was announced. There is a totalof 2000 ImageVue and Access installations, which are mostly ImageVuesystems.
In the two years since Access was introduced, ATL officials learnedthat the marketplace wanted more from the company than a productthat addressed just one piece of medical imaging, according toCass Diaz, senior vice president of sales and marketing.
"We started out in this as an ultrasound miniPACS solution.It became increasingly clear as we were installing these thingsthat customers really wanted much more than that," Diaz said."They wanted to start hooking up all these other modalities,and that is really a very complex situation. We started realizingthat this is not our core business, that we were really gettingdistant from what our core business is."
Kodak executives see Access as an excellent fit with the DigitalScience line, especially now that the integration work betweenthe systems is complete. Kodak will be able to sell Access intoits PACS installations, and will have an advantage that ATL neverenjoyed, in that it will be perceived as a neutral vendor in theultrasound scanner battles in which ATL participates with Acusonand other companies.
"The fact that now Nova is not a part of an ultrasound companyallows Nova to integrate with others besides just ATL," saidPaul Condit, director of business development for cardiology atKodak Health Imaging. "Not being owned by one of the majorproviders of digital information allows us to play the role ofintegrating with everybody, as opposed to integrating with ourcompetitors. We can, as Nova, integrate across a number of ultrasoundplatforms, and the customer sees us as independent."
ATL officials characterize their experience with Nova and Accessas a positive one. The vendor will concentrate on improving theconnectivity of its ultrasound scanners to enable them to be integratedwith a wide range of components in PACS networks.
"That is what we are really going to put all of our resourcesinto: making our systems fully compatible with external imagemanagement systems," Diaz said. "We will offer solutionsto our customers that want miniPACS with this Kodak alliance."