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Merge appoints new CEO as firm eyes integrated future


Merge appoints new CEO as firm eyes integrated futureConnectivity vendor targets enterprise opportunitiesAfter a dozen years at the helm of Merge Technologies, PACS and connectivity veteran Bill Mortimore is stepping into a new role.

Merge appoints new CEO as firm eyes integrated future

Connectivity vendor targets enterprise opportunities

After a dozen years at the helm of Merge Technologies, PACS and connectivity veteran Bill Mortimore is stepping into a new role. Mortimore and the Board of Directors have tapped Richard Linden, another healthcare industry veteran, to lead the company.

This move comes as part of a management restructuring that makes Linden president and CEO and Mortimore chairman and chief strategist. It also falls in line with Merge's announcement earlier this year that it intended to engage a top-level executive to take on a portion of the operating responsibility.

Under Mortimore's leadership, Merge Technologies has moved from an OEM-focused product distribution to a combination of OEM, value-added reseller, and direct sales. In addition, the firm has increased its core connectivity product portfolio (enabling the exchange of data in standard HL7 and DICOM formats between disparate legacy systems) to include Java-based text and image data exchange. Beyond the radiology and PACS environment, Merge recently signed an agreement with Philips to integrate its ExamWorks product into Philips' surgical C-arm product, a step toward integration across medical specialties (HNN 8/9/00).

In addition to founding Merge in 1987, Mortimore is one of the original members of the American College of Radiology/National Association of Electrical Manufacturers (ACR/NEMA) committee responsible for establishing and maintaining the DICOM medical imaging standard. He also served as chair of the medical imaging informatics section of NEMA and is a member of the board of directors of NEMA's diagnostic imaging division.

"If you look at what the integrated healthcare environment means, that is seamless integration of clinical workflow with administrative workflow," said Mortimore. "Healthcare suffers greatly because the people doing the work are not involved in the administrative part—the RIS is not integrated with the dictating system or with PACS. The result is poorly billed services and patient information not being shared. The ‘back office' will grow to be not just financial churning but also the core patient information database."

In his new position at Merge, Mortimore will turn his attention to advancing the strategic business goals and financial strategies of the Milwaukee-based firm, with particular emphasis on moving the company beyond its traditional clinical emphasis into the broader healthcare environment.

"I've participated in the initial spade work and taken an interest in integration with my outside activities, for example with NEMA," he said. "We're moving the company into providing more solutions for the integrated environment, rather than just connectivity products."

In addition to business development, Mortimore will be actively working toward cementing strategic partnerships and relationships, such as the 1999 acquisition of Interpra, a Canadian firm that brought Internet-based tools and appliances into the Merge product line. As chief strategist, Mortimore will also concentrate on financial planning and investor relations for the company, which went public in 1998.

"Capital formation is important, as Merge is positioned to grow very rapidly," he said. "Over the last few years, since we went public, the demands of operating internally have kept me from being able to push the envelope on the outside. It really is time to ramp up for growth."

Linden's background in healthcare risk management consulting provides another piece of the integration puzzle for Merge. Linden has more than 20 years' experience providing specialized insurance products and consulting services in the healthcare market, in roles such as chief information officer, chief operations officer, and most recently as the president of a healthcare consulting and service organization.

"Initially, I plan to build relationships with senior staff, key clients, OEM/VAR distributors, and strategic partners," said Linden. "I will also lead the executive team through a strategic planning and business planning exercise in mid-fourth quarter to craft new goals and strategies for next year that support our efforts to grow and succeed financially."

Merge intends to continue marketing customized solutions to customer problems across the healthcare enterprise, using the building blocks in its store of MergeWorks connectivity products. The firm's primary market for its branded products is the U.S., although 40% of its business is outside of the U.S. through OEM partnerships with vendors such as Philips.

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