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Intelerad has continued its streak of acquisitions by buying up medical image exchange vendor Life Image. The move, along with its previous acquisition of another image exchange vendor Ambra in Autumn 2021, means the enterprise imaging vendor has now combined two of the top three competitors in image exchange, and has given itself a clear market leadership position.
Intelerad hopes that the acquisition will enable the vendor to capitalise on the interoperability focus of the 21st Century Cures Act in the US and should help providers more easily share images across their networks, preventing information sharing bottlenecks and use of legacy processes such as burning CDs. Given Intelerad’s recent run of acquisitions and the integration that they require, is adding another company into the mix really the best use of the company’s resources?
The Signify View
As detailed in several previous Premium Insights, since Hg Capital took a majority holding in Intelerad in February 2020, the imaging IT vendor has sought to expand its capability, and secure market share by making a succession of acquisitions. These have included a variety of companies, including cardiovascular information systems vendor LumedX, image management platform provider Digisonics, UK based enterprise imaging company Insignia, mammography screening management software vendor PenRad and several others. By making these acquisitions, Intelerad has not only been able to grow its position in the market, but it is assembling the capabilities it requires to create a cloud-based multi-ology enterprise imaging platform.
One of the acquisitions to pave the way for this ambition was Ambra, a deal which not only netted Intelerad a growing, profitable business, but also helped to round out Intelerad’s radiology offering, bringing cloud-based PACS, image exchange and VNA to its platform. Further, by buying a vendor offering such capability, Intelerad acquired a toolset that can help bring together its other disparate acquisitions into a cohesive whole.
The latest acquisition, of Life Image, builds on this momentum. It adds another, larger, successful image exchange business to the vendor’s portfolio, cements Intelerad as the market leader in image exchange in the US and adds further tools that will help Intelerad integrate its host of acquired companies.
A Question of Acute
Life Image also opens new sales opportunities for Intelerad. The enterprise imaging vendor’s customer base is heavily weighted toward the outpatient radiology segment. While this is a lucrative and growing market, it is also one that is increasingly being targeted by major international vendors with companies such as GE HealthCare and Change Healthcare, amongst others, harbouring designs on the segment.
Life Image, on the other hand, is primarily focused on larger provider networks, and academic institutions. Flourishing in this market has, so far, proved somewhat difficult for Intelerad, so the vendor will look to utilise Life Image’s installed base and network of contacts to aid in its growth of the large, lucrative mainstream acute market, including the government health sector. This is especially true given the vendor agnostic nature of image exchange systems. For a hospital to adopt image exchange from Life Image, there is no requirement that it sever ties with its current image IT vendor and enter into a new partnership with Intelerad. Life Image’s image exchange could therefore not only prove to be attractive as a standalone product, but allows Intelerad a ‘seat at the table’ when providers look to update existing imaging IT systems. This opportunity can be enhanced by the intelligence Life Images’ platform can provide on incumbent imaging IT vendors volume and performance, offering Intelerad useful insights with which to tailor their own sales pitches when contracts come up for renewal.
This isn’t Intelerad’s first attempt at targeting the acute sector, with its previous acquisition of LumedX an earlier strategy for gaining ground in the market. However, the fact that Intelerad is continuing to target the acute sector with Life Image highlights the importance of the acute market .
Additionally, Life Image, as well as Ambra, to a certain extent, are also well placed to make progress in the market thanks to recent changes in policy, with the 21st Century Cures Act requiring providers to be able to provide patients with their medical imaging data. This initially focuses on general health data and medical history, but, over time will increasingly address all kinds of data, including medical images. As the ability to share images becomes a necessity for providers, Intelerad, given its ownership of Ambra and now Life Image, two of the three largest vendors in the image exchange space in the US, finds itself in a position which appears increasingly promising.
Real World Advantages
Beyond offering opportunities for increased sales of Intelerad products within the acute space, the acquisition of Life Image also builds on another revenue stream. With the access to the range of medical imaging data that it brings, even if Intelerad doesn’t itself own the images, the enterprise imaging vendor can better position itself to serve hospitals and customers through the establishment of a real-world data platform.
The growing importance of health data, including medical imaging cannot data be understated, and hospitals are increasingly aware of the value of that data. The acquisition of Life Image allows Intelerad to further tap into the value of this data, as customers from areas such as pharmaceuticals turn to this data to improve the efficiency of drug discovery, for example. While the true value of Life Image will take some time to realise in this regard, given the nascency of the market, the fact that Intelerad is already preparing for such opportunities places it ahead of the curve compared to most of its direct competitors.
Making a Whole
The picture isn’t universally rosy, however. While the acquisition of Life Image is no doubt a sensible move, and invariably will have been somewhat opportunistic, it doesn’t solve Intelerad’s fundamental problem, deriving value from its long list of acquisitions greater than the sum of the constituent parts.
There are also some gaps in Intelerad’s lineup. The vendor, does, for instance, harbour some AV capability, but, in lacking a fully-featured in-house solution, relinquishes some control. The same is true of AI, with a partnership with Blackford Analysis bringing machine learning tools to Intelerad’s customers, but again, offering less control than an equivalent platform owned by Intelerad. Furthermore, those companies that have so far been acquired continue to effectively sit as a ‘house of brands’ rather than a single cohesive whole.
This is understandable, the integration of such a range of capabilities into one holistic platform is no trivial task. However, the imaging IT market is slow moving, with opportunities to tender for contracts and displace incumbents few and far between. To stand a chance of securing such deals, the vendor does not need to have a fully-integrated cloud-based system ready to deploy right away, but it should at least offer potential customers an outline of its plans. Even simply offering a roadmap would help the vendor give confidence to providers attracted to the potential offered by Intelerad’s acquisitions, but hesitant to commit to the company’s system.
This guidance for customers and potential customers should be among Intelerad’s priorities for RSNA. There will likely be some outline for existent customer and key targets already being quietly shared behind closed doors. But, by committing to a roadmap at the industry’s largest event, promoting its vision and building momentum for its upcoming integrated solution, Intelerad can ensure that the acquisition of Life Image adds not just a strongly performing company to its already impressive roster, but, adds a toolset that can help with a much larger ambition.
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This Insight is part of your subscription to Signify Premium Insights – Medical Imaging. This content is only available to individuals with an active account for this paid-for service and is the copyright of Signify Research. Content cannot be shared or distributed to non-subscribers or other third parties without express written consent from Signify Research. To view other recent Premium Insights that are part of the service please click here