StorageTek builds direct sales team as part of push into medical imagingVendor eschews OEM model for its archive offeringsArchiving firm StorageTek has long been a force in the healthcare information system market, but, until recently,
Vendor eschews OEM model for its archive offerings
Archiving firm StorageTek has long been a force in the healthcare information system market, but, until recently, the company has had a limited presence in the PACS realm.
The Louisville, CO-based firm is moving to rectify that, however, and has built a formidable direct sales organization over the last few months to handle medical imaging accounts.
StorageTek's early efforts in PACS relied on an indirect distribution model in which PACS companies purchased StorageTek archives through the company's reseller organization. Its digital linear tape (DLT) archives were installed in healthcare sites by companies such as Agfa, Eastman Kodak, and Imation. StorageTek began to reexamine this business model, however, due to its belief in the importance of archiving in PACS installations. The company believes it can provide broader archiving solutions and better service to customers by adopting a direct sales approach, according to Tim Chunn, senior applications consultant in StorageTek's medical systems solutions business group.
"Traditionally we have only had a direct sales organization, with a very small component of OEM and distributors to handle very specific markets," Chunn said. "But it's become apparent to us that we needed to have a more direct presence with hospitals to be successful in this application area."
To build its direct sales force, StorageTek has hired a number of new executives, including several from established PACS or HIS/RIS firms. Leslie Ferrini joined the company in July after leaving her post as manager of the connectivity systems group of Toshiba America Medical Systems. Ferrini will be covering the West Coast region as a sales executive for StorageTek. Other sales or sales management personnel have come over from companies such as EMED, Imation, and Acuson.
Whereas StorageTek previously had only one dedicated salesperson for medical accounts, the company now has 20 regional sales executives devoted to medical sales worldwide. The firm also benefits from six regional marketing specialists, including StorageTek veteran Jeff Bookman and Bill Knight, who previously was a North American sales manager at digitizer developer Vidar Systems. The marketing team, including senior applications consultant Bob Campana, is actively developing marketing strategies and product solutions unique for the medical imaging and healthcare markets.
A key benefit that end users derive from procuring their archive solutions from StorageTek rather than PACS firms is the ability to archive images for departments outside of radiology, Chunn said. This leads to much lower overall archiving costs, he said. While StorageTek is interested in working with PACS companies, it doesn't plan on formalizing any OEM relationships, Chunn said.
As part of the company's push into healthcare and medical imaging, StorageTek unveiled its Medical Archive Solution at the 1997 Radiological Society of North America meeting (PNN 1/98). Medical Archive Solution is a Unix-based hierarchical archive offering that incorporates RAID for short-time storage and the company's Nearline automated tape product for longer term archiving needs. The company's Application Storage Management software provides a direct connection between the network and a customer's PACS.
The company followed up the RSNA release with the introduction of a Windows NT-based version of Medical Archive Solution in March. The NT-based offering is positioned as a small- to medium-sized department archive server, with the Unix-based offering targeted for large department or enterprise-wide applications, Chunn said.
"NT has really come on strong at the workstation level, but it's got a ways to go to be a very high performance and very scalable server technology," he said. "Microsoft's getting there quickly, but it's still probably a year or two away before it'll have the functionality and the robustness that is customary in the Unix environment."
In addition to the company's popular DLT archive, StorageTek also has several other high-performance long-term storage offerings, including RedWood, a proprietary tape offering.
StorageTek's direct sales efforts are already bearing fruit. The company has installed archives at William Beaumont Medical Center in Detroit, MI; the University of Utah in Salt Lake City; University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center; and the Cleveland Clinic. A dozen other sites have signed on to install StorageTek archives.