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Hologic expands operations to handle new focus on DR


Hologic’s entrance into the digital radiography (DR) market last year will make 2000 a year of significant change for the Bedford, MA, radiographic and bone densitometry equipment supplier, according to company executives. As Hologic gears up

Hologic’s entrance into the digital radiography (DR) market last year will make 2000 a year of significant change for the Bedford, MA, radiographic and bone densitometry equipment supplier, according to company executives. As Hologic gears up internally to handle DR product responsibilities, it is also cultivating new marketing and OEM relationships for its new business.

The move into DR occurred first with Hologic’s acquisition of DR flat-panel detector manufacturer Direct Radiography Corp. (DRC) of Newark, DE, in April (SCAN 5/12/99). This was followed up with the introduction of two Hologic DR systems, Epex and Radex, at the RSNA show last month (SCAN 12/15/99).

Hologic will focus the DRC group on DR plate development and manufacturing while expanding its own responsibility for DR product design, integration, sales, and field service, according to David Ellenbogen, president. Along with product specialists who came over with the DRC acquisition, Hologic plans to use its existing dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) sales force, which has been increased, to handle DR sales.

“The sales force is reporting demand (for DR) even from the smaller community hospitals they are calling on,” Ellenbogen said. “Any (hospital equipment) purchase made now is made with the idea that it must be compatible with the digitization of the department. Whether digitization occurs in the next year or next decade, the equipment they are buying has to fit that profile.”

While Hologic gears up to handle sales and support for its new DR products, which are both expected to ship in the second quarter, the DRC group has been focused more sharply on detector manufacturing and new DR plate development, Ellenbogen said. This has not, however, meant a staffing reduction at DRC, which remains at its pre-acquisition level of about 100 people.

New DR detector development efforts are focused on two areas, said William C. Greenway, vice president of business development for Hologic. One will be a plate for mammography and the other a dual-state plate capable of performing both radiographic and fluoroscopic work. Hologic expects to have the dual-state plate available in about 12 months, with the mammography plate ready before that.

Meanwhile, DRC will be busy producing its large-format 14 x 17-inch detector, introduced last year. This plate will be supplied to Kodak for that vendor’s new DR effort (SCAN 12/15/99) as well as for use in Hologic’s DR systems and in the firm’s emerging DR retrofit business.

Hologic signed on two partners late last year to begin the retrofit work: MedAssets Exchange, formerly Comdisco (SCAN 10/13/99), and North America Imaging. More partners are expected to be announced early this year, Greenway said.

These retrofit partners will use DRC detectors to upgrade standard radiographic systems with DR technology. DRC began this retrofit effort earlier with detector sales to the U.S. Army for digital x-ray upgrades.

Sales of Hologic’s two new general-purpose DR systems will build on initial experience gained by DRC through a partnership with Fischer Imaging of Denver. Fischer integrated DRC detectors into two systems, a general radiographic unit using the Fischer Traumex technology, and a chest DR system. Both Fischer and Hologic/DRC sell these systems, with Hologic calling them DR1000 and DR1000C.

While about 15 of the DR1000C units have been sold and shipped over the past year-and-a-half, delays in producing DR1000 held up availability of that unit until last October. Hologic began installing the first two DR1000 units late last year, according to Ellenbogen. The Fischer/DRC relationship will continue, he said.

However, Hologic’s Epex and Radex systems will serve as the vendor’s workhorse units for general radiography, with DR1000 targeted more to specialty trauma applications. DR1000 is also more expensive and harder to cost-justify for general radiography. The trauma unit is about $50,000 more expensive than the Epex, which will list for about $350,000. Radex, a more basic radiographic system, will sell for about $50,000 less than the Epex.

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