Maro Tech enters U.S. market with plans to offer free trial softwareKorean firm hopes low-cost technology will lure customersSouth Korea is quickly becoming a hotbed of PACS technology development. The country, which has seen firms such
Korean firm hopes low-cost technology will lure customers
South Korea is quickly becoming a hotbed of PACS technology development. The country, which has seen firms such as Samsung and Mediface plan entrees into the North American PACS sector in the last year, is also the headquarters of Maro Tech, another PACS firm that has elected to move outside Asia.
A Los Angeles subsidiary, called Hyper Medi-Tech, has been formed to lead the Seoul-based firm's efforts in the U.S. Since vendors from outside the U.S. face challenges in convincing customers to take a chance on their technology, Maro Tech hopes to overcome objections through aggressive pricing and by making free trial software demonstrations available and downloadable off its Web site (www.marotech.co.kr).
The company's Windows 95/98/NT-based RadMax PACS line begins with a scalable PACS starter kit, called Diet PACS, that would link up an imaging modality with a server and a viewing station. A Diet PACS installation will cost approximately $35,000.
Large-scale PACS installations can also be supported with RadMax. Teleradiology and Web-based image distribution capabilities are available, as is a HIS/RIS interface. Archiving needs can be met through a combination of CD-ROM storage media, optical disks, and digital linear tape.
Maro Tech has also developed its own CCD-based x-ray film digitizer family, which supports film sizes of 14 x 17 inches. A 1K version of its MTX-2000 is now available and features a five-second scanning time. It will cost $5000. A 2K version of MTX-2000, still in development, will offer a scanning speed of eight seconds and be priced at $8000.
An additional digitizer, MTX-3000, will provide 2K x 2K scanning in three seconds and cost $30,000, according to the company.
The firm plans to file a 510(k) application for the RadMax product line in the coming months. It hopes to get Food and Drug Administration clearance in mid-year. Pricing is expected to be 33% to 50% cheaper than technology offered by larger PACS vendors, said Hyung Hoon Lee, Maro Tech president. The company is actively soliciting distributors for the U.S. and other global markets and is also hopeful of landing OEM partners and relationships with system integrators.
"Since we have had relationships with hardware companies, we can put in a total PACS if we need to," Lee said. "But our main emphasis is on software, and we're looking for hardware firms or system integrators to bring the total solution to hospitals."
In addition to its North American marketing efforts, the firm is in negotiations with healthcare institutions from countries such as Australia, Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan, he said.
Maro Tech was formed in March 1994 in Seoul as a PACS software developer. Maro's flagship customer is Seoul National University Hospital, a 1500-bed site that implemented a large-scale PACS in 1995. Physicians at SNUH serve as advisors to Maro Tech's ongoing software development effort, Lee said.
Other hospitals in South Korea employing Maro Tech PACS technology include Yonsei University Hospital and Gil Medical Center. Recently, the company landed a large-scale Korean PACS contract from Paik Medical Center, a new 600-bed center in Ilsan scheduled to open by the end of 1999. The firm hopes to complete installation of the PACS by the third quarter.
In 1997, Maro Tech had revenues of $2.5 million, including hardware sales. Shifting primarily to a software provider role, the company had sales of only $1 million in 1998. Sales were also affected by the financial crisis impacting the Asian region. So far in 1999, however, the firm has booked sales of $1.5 million and expects its revenues to hit $10 million this year, Lee said.