Clearer Picture

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A Singapore David takes on the Goliath in the world of medical technology. Mach7’s Ravi Krishnan has built a medical imaging system that is nimbler and more versatile than anything available at the moment. By Stella Danker

Data plays a crucial role in healthcare management. Its accurate collection and interpretation determine how effectively decision making in the field of medicine will be conducted.

As global players like G.E. Healthcare, Phillips, and Agfa continue to develop new medical diagnostic data storage systems, a homegrown information technology player is proving to be a wild card in the pack.

Mach7 Technologies is already doing business with international healthcare players, building upon its reputation for providing the benefits of a small, lean operation.

Ravi Krishnan, the co-founder of this Vermont-headquartered company, says the advanced technology engine for the healthcare industry he has created will take on the big boys in the industry.

Much of the advantages of the system have to do with the speed, which is reflected in the name, Mach7, inspired by the high-performance sports car. In Krishnan’s case, it’s all about the speed of delivering data in the medical diagnostic world.

Krishnan, who grew up in Singapore’s rural northern area of Sembawang, never dreamed he would be involved in a venture that would create an “advanced technology engine” that would be adopted by international hospitals and imaging centres. The initial prototype was produced with a design team in Vermont, under the leadership of Chief Technical Officer, Eric Rice.

Making The Difference

Current systems operate separately in single specialties like radiology or cardiology, the two biggest medical imaging specialties. Information cannot be easily shared within or between specialties. A doctor looking at a patient’s radiology images on one vendor viewing platform often cannot also look at the patient’s prior images if managed by a different platform. That would make comparing images challenging, and may not be in the best interests of the patient if, for instance, the rate of growth of a tumour cannot be ascertained.

These first-generation providers offered systems that could not be shared between different providers. “For example, sharing images between major vendor systems can be challenging when it comes to clinical use. Our technology allows effective sharing of images from different systems,” says Krishnan.

The healthcare technology market is now hankering for the type of vendor-neutral medical image management systems that Krishnan has created. Healthcare providers want to consolidate vast quantities of patient image data and make it available across specialties for a more complete picture of a patient.

This vendor-neutral imaging management market is the largest-growing sector of the healthcare industry, according to independent healthcare analysts in the US. It is predicted to grow yearly by double digits, to more than US$1 billion in 2018.

Krishnan, who has an extensive background in the healthcare IT and imaging informatics field has worked for G.E. Healthcare and Agfa HealthCare. His projects have spanned Asia Pacific, Japan, and South Korea. He says that his system is retrofittable and works across all specialties, and is designed to be cost effective because a hospital does not need to buy an image management system for each specialty. “Vendor-neutral systems allow hospitals  to control and own their images improving physician, clinician and patient access globally and, finally, delivering a complete view of the patient’s care history when and where it is needed.”

Mach7 sells the system directly to the medical enterprise, trains the technicians to use it, and supplies a yearly software service contract.

Adding Value

Vice Chairman of Radiology Informatics for Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Keith Dreyer, in his testimonial, says, “Mach7 Enterprise Imaging Platform enables us to take greater ownership of imaging data and significantly enhances our ability to share that data towards improving patient care.”

Says Krishnan: “Dreyer said we were innovative in our approach to solving the proprietary bonds that have been in place with picture archiving computerised systems (PACS). Massachusetts General Hospital has a powerful medical informatics IT arm. So, when they recognised that our technology adds value to their programme, we were very happy. This is a real validation of both our solution and the market potential for this technology.

“Our business model is providing value to our clients. We will not have 50 offices with 300 sales people. We will work with our clients, partnering with them to deliver the solution that most benefits them. We will train their internal teams to manage and maintain the system. When they are ready to expand their deployment, we’ll be there with them. This is a sustainable approach and one that our clients value,” Krishnan explains.

Other customers include the Middle East’s Hamad Medical Corporation, Qatar’s leading centre that manages four highly specialised hospitals and the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), which used the system to provide long-term archiving of nuclear medicine studies. SGH measured a 530% productivity gain for nuclear medicine technologists with an Enterprise Imaging Platform.

“SGH had invited the entire industry to participate in a system review and our solution outperformed every one of them,” Krishnan states. “Based on these successes, we have been invited to participate in several trials with the Ministry of Health.”

Krishnan is enthusiastic about the future of Mach7. “I believe in two to three years, Mach7’s leadership and technology innovation will enable significant business growth. We are currently working with major industry leaders who recognise the business value that our platform brings. These key partnerships will help take our company to the next level.

“I’m very confident, and perhaps technically arrogant at times, that it can happen. Because of the interaction and the ovation I get from the customers I meet with, I’m confident that we will be a leader in this rapidly expanding market.”

For the boy from Sembawang, that’s a big step in the right direction.

Ravi Krishnan is a panelist in STORM’s event Keep It Going: The Next Big Thing in 2014. View more details of the event in Keep It Going 2014.

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