PhorMax plans entry into low-end CR marketplace

October 13, 1999

Startup plans RSNA debut of CRViewMuch technology development in the last few years in computed radiography has been in the lower-end sector of the market, as vendors seek to bring the benefits of the modality to such imaging environments as

Startup plans RSNA debut of CRView

Much technology development in the last few years in computed radiography has been in the lower-end sector of the market, as vendors seek to bring the benefits of the modality to such imaging environments as remote clinics and hospital ICU, CCU, and ER departments. The latest firm preparing to join the fray is PhorMax, a venture capital-backed startup that will be debuting a desktop-sized CR reader at this year’s RSNA meeting.

PhorMax, headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, was founded two years ago by longtime CR executive Gary Cantu and medical imaging veteran Jerry Gibson to develop a low-cost CR system for the medical imaging marketplace. In addition to serving as the chief architect for PhorMax’s system, called CRView, Cantu is chairman and CEO. Cantu has worked with CR technology for 10 years, primarily in the dental and life sciences marketplaces. Gibson, who has held various executive positions with Siemens Medical Systems and Xerox, is president of the new firm.

CRView employs traditional storage phosphor technology and provides image quality equivalent to higher-end systems, but with an expected end-user base price of $50,000 to $60,000, Gibson said. In a key feature, CRView will include a proprietary approach to scanning the x-ray plate that obviates the need for manual removal of plates from the cassettes. Once the study has been performed, the technologist simply inserts the cassette into the reader.

“You would insert the cassette into the system, much as you would insert a videotape into a VCR,” he said. “The unit will automatically extract the imaging plate, scan it, bring the image up, erase it, reinsert it into the cassette, and eject (the cassette). So it’s a complete turnkey unit.”

A quality control workstation as well as a diagnostic workstation will be included, as will full DICOM 3.0 compliance, Gibson said. Technologies currently being developed include teleradiology capability as well as a Web and an archive interface.

“We are developing a menu so that the customer will be able to configure anything, from a component tying in to an existing PACS, all the way down to an individual physician looking for a system where we can essentially provide all of the DICOM connectivity, the archive connectivity, teleradiology, and electronic patient record software retrieval,” Cantu said.

PhorMax will develop some of these capabilities in-house and partner with other firms to access the remainder. CRView will employ imaging plates from Agfa, and the system can support plate sizes ranging from 8 x 10 inches to 14 x 17 inches. All European-size plates will also be supported.

PhorMax will pursue an OEM distribution model for the system, and has signed a letter of intent with one firm. Final negotiations are under way with a second vendor, and PhorMax may choose to pursue a third distribution partner, Gibson said. Both potential partners are imaging and PACS companies, he said.

Clinical testing will commence shortly at the University of California, San Francisco, and will be completed by mid-November. The company is in the process of preparing a 510(k) application for submission to the Food and Drug Administration, and expects the system will be ready to ship by the spring of 2000.