Free software, just in time for ChristmasTeleradiology vendor Raytheon E-Systems Medical Electronics castitself in the role of Santa Claus at this month's RadiologicalSociety of North America meeting in Chicago when it announcedthat it plans to
Teleradiology vendor Raytheon E-Systems Medical Electronics castitself in the role of Santa Claus at this month's RadiologicalSociety of North America meeting in Chicago when it announcedthat it plans to begin giving away its popular MultiView softwarefor viewing medical images at remote sites. The San Antonio, TX,company's move is a bold grab for market share that could rattleits teleradiology competitors.
E-Med's move comes at the end of what president Ronald Fordadmits was a turbulent year for the company. In July, E-Med underwenta restructuring that saw chief executive James Karlak leave thecompany (SCAN 7/17/96). In addition, the development of PACSPro/DX,E-Med's Unix-based DICOM-compliant PACS product, was transferredfrom San Antonio to another Raytheon E-Systems division in Garland,TX.
The moves were designed to enable E-Med to focus on its coreteleradiology market while PACS development continued at the Garlanddivision. As a part of the new focus, E-Med began to examine waysto enhance the company's standing in the teleradiology field.
"We felt there were some things that we needed to do tolet our customers know that we were in with them for the longhaul, and to stifle some of the things our competitors were sayingabout us," Ford said.
At the same time, the company recognized an emerging trendin teleradiology: the need for a teleradiology viewing standardas radiology groups and hospitals consolidate. By leveraging itslarge teleradiology installed base, and by offering free copiesof MultiView, E-Med believes that it can become that standard.
As of Dec. 15, E-Med began shipping free copies of MultiViewStandard to all those who request it. The company plans to offer10,000 copies of the software, and then make it available viaa download from the Internet. Existing MultiView customers willreceive unlimited site licenses, free extensions, and/or discountcertificates for future purchase of E-Med products.
Clearly, the plan is not without some risk. E-Med has sold2000 copies of MultiView this year, and at a list price of $1295the product will account for over $2 million in revenues. MultiViewhas built an installed base of about 7500 to 8000 copies sinceit began shipping four years ago.
But E-Med believes that offering free MultiView software willhelp create sales of its MultiView and StatView image captureand transmission stations, which can sell for between $12,000and $50,000 depending on configuration. These installations willbecome crucial as hospitals move from basic teleradiology intomore sophisticated PACS-style image management. Indeed, some PACSindustry observers believe that teleradiology market share willbe crucial in the next few years as hospitals begin moving upto PACS.
"We've made it easier for a small hospital that's justgetting started to start out with our stuff, and we'll grow withthem," Ford said. "As (hospitals) combine to gain efficiencies,they'll say, `Let's standardize on a single system. We want tocreate that demand for our product."
E-Med will still generate some revenue from MultiView Standard,however, by offering extensions that increase the functionalityof a basic MultiView package. One such extension, for example,2K X-tension, will allow a MultiView station to view 2K images.The first version of 2K X-tension will be priced at $350.
The Garland division's development of PACSPro/DX is proceeding,and E-Med plans to begin shipments this spring, according to Ford.The first PACSPro/DX beta site is at the VA Hospital in Boston,and will be fully operational in January. E-Med shifted PACSProdevelopment to that facility after scaling back its work at theUniversity of Virginia in Charlottesville, which was a PACSPro/DXalpha site.
As 1996 draws to a close, Ford believes that E-Med has putthe year's turmoil behind it: The company's orders and sales forOctober and November were at record levels.
"That to me is the clearest indication that (the restructuring)is behind us," Ford said. "The example of the strategybehind MultiView is an indication of how the new team has jelledtogether and really is performing."