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Intelerad added another company to its growing portfolio in August, acquiring breast and lung screening specialist PenRad Technologies. The acquisition of the vendor, which provides software to enhance the efficiency of screening programmes, is the latest in a string of purchases including Ambra Health, Insignia and Lumedx among others.
The deal, which was of an undisclosed value, will bolster Intelerad’s offerings for mammography and lung workflow tools and analytics. Its three core products, PenRad for breast imaging, PenLung from lung screening, and PenTrac for patient tracking and reporting will, according to Intelerad, help radiologists using its enterprise imaging platform to optimise workflows and manage screening programmes more efficiently.
The Signify View
Since Hg Capital became the majority investor in Intelerad in 2020, the vendor’s plans have, over time, become clear. Intelerad has set its sights on building out a fully-fledged enterprise imaging offering, a system that will cater to the needs of most providers and offer a genuine alternative to both other specialist imaging IT vendors as well as the solutions offered by larger international medical imaging vendors.
The acquisition will help in this regard. The integration of screening tools into the core imaging IT platform, while not unique, does add additional competency that will allow the firm to compete against some of the largest imaging IT providers. Furthermore, it will also help differentiate Intelerad from its current peer group of small and mid-size imaging IT “challenger” vendors. Such differentiation will also be particularly attractive to the outpatient sites that presently form the majority of Intelerad’s customer base.
Screening tools are also likely to increase in importance over time. Screening programmes in the US are well established for mammography, but are growing in sophistication, with increased uptake of more advanced modalities such as 3D mammography, ABUS and MRI, as well as additional reporting on harmonised diagnostic metrics such as risk scores and breast density. Another factor that could also mean providers are more willing to invest in tools such as those offered by PenRad are changes to reimbursement rates. Lower rates of reimbursement for screening mammography will increase the importance of screening efficiency. For screening providers, which rely on high volumes to drive revenues, any tools that enable greater reporting automation and more women to be screened, could therefore be very valuable.
In the US, Lung screening on the other hand is still underutilised, with patients often choosing not to participate in screening programmes when they are available. Despite this, the uptake of screening is still being encouraged, with, for example changes to screening rules making more people eligible to participate. Moreover, given the nascency of lung screening so far, PenRad’s lung assets will further differentiate the Intelerad offering.
Timing is Everything
The timing of the acquisition also makes sense. Following on from the Covid 19 pandemic, there has been a greater emphasis of care in outpatient settings. This is a market that Intelerad can serve effectively, although, without PenRad it lacks some of the specialist tools to be able to effectively capitalise on the requirements of screening providers. There are, for example, specialist workflow elements, registry integration requirements, and AI integrations which, among other needs, are distinct enough from typical radiology use cases to necessitate the acquisition if Intelerad is to succeed in the screening market.
While many PACS vendors offer some screening capability, these complexities mean that many informatics vendors also lack the specialist screening capability that Intelerad has acquired through its purchase of PenRad. In many cases, PACS vendors will “white-label” tools from vendors such as PenRad, or work with breast modality workstation vendors such as Hologic. Developing this capability in-house is not impossible for a vendor such as Intelerad, but it would have taken time to get right. By buying PenRad, Intelerad gets this capability right away, while also preventing any of its competitors picking up the firm.
The deal also makes sense for PenRad. While its tools are valuable, as a specialist company it is at risk of enterprise imaging vendors, whether smaller specialists or larger, broader imaging vendors and growing breast AI specialists increasingly encroaching on its turf as they too look to capitalise on the resilient screening market.
Despite the potential that the acquisition of PenRad offers in the outpatient and screening space, the capability it brings is not transformative for Intelerad, nor will it likely mark the end of the vendor’s acquisitive streak. Intelerad is, after all, focused on assembling a complete enterprise imaging solution, and, as long as Hg Capital is willing to support the vendor, Intelerad will look to make deals for the remaining gaps in its capability.
One such opening would be for digital pathology capability. While such tools are not yet necessitated by providers, they are, as discussed in a previous Premium Insight, increasingly looking for their vendors to be able to offer a plan which allows them to take advantage of digital pathology when they choose to. This requirement has led several imaging IT vendors to ensure they can meet this need, with Sectra and Philips offering the capability in-house, while the likes of Siemens Healthineers and Fujifilm have chosen to partner with Proscia and Inspirata respectively to offer the capability. Not to be outdone, Intelerad could choose to pick up a company focused on digital pathology and integrate it with its broader imaging IT offering. However, given the nascency of digital pathology, particularly in Intelerad’s key market of the US, partnering might represent a viable near to mid-term alternative as it has for Fujifilm and Siemens. Partnership is also an option that Intelerad is also willing to take, as illustrated by its partnership with Blackford Analysis for AI platform capability, for example.
Another area arguably more deserving of Intelerad’s focus is Advanced Visualisation (AV). Not only does this absence represent a gap compared to most of its peers, being able to offer AV capability would give the vendor a better chance of sealing deals at acute sites and helping the company expand beyond its core outpatient customer base. There are opportunities for Intelerad to offer white label solutions to customers, however, this route is more limited in terms of customisation and does not offer the same long-term certainty as offering solutions developed in house. Taking such an approach also means that Intelerad would not be able to keep all the revenues from the solution, a factor which could impede its ability to innovate in the future. Solving the “AV” challenge is not urgent, but as AV is increasingly de-coupling from modalities sales channels and gradually overlapping with AI image analysis tools, the firm will not want to wait too long without a clear plan of how to address the AV gap in its offering.
There are other capabilities that are also increasingly important, particularly if Intelerad has designs on the acute space. Many deals are now agreed on a long-term basis and include professional service and consulting elements. At present, Intelerad could miss out on some major contracts given that it is not among the vendors best placed to deliver on these requirements at scale and on multiple geographic fronts, a headache that has also challenged fast-growing peer Sectra. Other elements also important given growing pressures on imaging services are fleet management and operational analytics tools. Not only would such tools stand Intelerad in better stead as it competes for major deals with acute providers, but these allow the vendor to use them as a foundation to increasingly engage in lucrative service activities, helping providers realises their performance targets and meet their KPIs for example.
While adding these and other capabilities would not be cheap, if Intelerad were willing to invest the time and resource in fully integrating them, it would emerge with one of the most complete enterprise imaging solutions available. This in itself is no guarantee of long-term success; the imaging IT market moves slowly, and organic growth is hard to come by. As such, further acquisitions may be necessary for Intelerad to continue to gain market share and the revenues that it brings. However, the investment made by Hg Capital, along with additional investment from TA Associates, suggests that the vendor is not finished, and that more acquisitions are likely on the way.
The more pertinent question is how long HG continues to back Intelerad. It has proved its commitment in the near term, but at some point, it is likely to want to exit and realise a return. When this is, and how advanced the integration of its acquisitions is at this point is something that remains to be seen.
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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