Visage Imaging CEO David Chambers: On the Future of Health Care IT

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Earlier this year, Pro Medicus Ltd., the Australia-based RIS provider, acquired Visage Imaging. spoke with David Chambers, CEO of Pro Medicus Ltd. and Visage Imaging on the history of the company, details of the acquisition, and the health care IT landscape in the land down under.

“Health care (along with many facets of the delivery of that care) is shifting away from hospitals over time. This is why the golden chalice of health care informatics is to provide solutions that can span, and interoperate across, the patient’s continuum of care.”
--David Chambers

ImagingBiz: Tell us about the history of Pro Medicus. Where did the company begin, and how did it get to be the diversified informatics company that it is today?

Chambers: Pro Medicus started in 1984 with a medical practice-management system that has evolved into a sophisticated RIS servicing more than 70% of the Australian private-radiology market. The year 2000 was a turning point for the company. It launched an Internet-based e-health network that now services over 27,000 primary care physicians and listed the company on the Australian Stock Exchange, where we currently have a market capitalization of approximately $75 million (Australian).

In 2001, we commenced a journey into the world of integrating RIS with PACS with a leading integration with Agfa. Today, this has expanded to integrations with other leading PACS companies and operations in the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and (with our recent acquisition of Visage Imaging) Europe. Our mission is to help our clients deliver first-rate patient care by enhancing and streamlining processes in the clinical and medical-practice setting. We do this by providing products and services that combine speed, scalability, stability, and smarts to help eliminate administrative tasks and workarounds, optimize the efficiency of clinical and administrative staff, and maximize profits.

Everything we do is about providing seamless, integrated solutions in medical IT. For my part, I had more than 20 years’ experience in health care, and after a successful three-year stint as vice president of a tier-one PACS provider in the United States, I returned to Australia to take up the role of CEO of Pro Medicus in late 2007.

ImagingBiz: Why did Pro Medicus make this acquisition? How does Visage’s enterprise visualization software fit into your vision of where imaging informatics is going?

Chambers: Although our product had been successfully installed at more than 400 imaging centers worldwide, with integrations with a number of leading PACS companies, we could see a revolution occurring that was threatening the success of our clients’ investments in the RIS/PACS concept.

The revolution has been caused by the new multidetector CT scanners and the amazing possibilities that they provide for advanced visualisation. What we realized was that most of the PACS companies had architectures that never anticipated the data volumes created by these scanners. Basically, data volumes are growing at a vastly quicker rate than networks or databases can cope with, so clients who were delighted with their RIS/PACS investments were finding them tested to the limit once new scanners were purchased.

Visage has a fabulous product that solves this dilemma and allows us to deliver additional life to existing PACS, as well as significant additional functionality. This proposition excited us and fit with our goal of providing value to our clients. We are also better able to service our clients with a broader portfolio of capabilities, a global footprint, and an ability to address new clients in the large-hospital and enterprise market space.

Visage Imaging’s 3D visualization product allows CT and MRI images to be reconstructed in 3D. We see it as the next wave in radiology technology. The huge advantage of the Visage product in this space is its use of thin-client distribution technology, which means 3D images can be accessed in seconds on virtually any PC without requiring the enormous amounts of computer and network memory that most current systems require. Visage is one of only several companies that currently have this technology commercialized. We believe that the trend toward volume reading will only increase as the logistics of dealing with the massive datasets are solved by companies such as ours unleashing the amazing potential of 3D and 4D image visualization.

ImagingBiz: Does operating in Australia’s