March 17, 2006
Metro Imaging Invests $600,000 to Put Scans on Web
St. Louis Business Journal
Metro Imaging, which operates five medical imaging centers in St. Louis, invested $600,000 in new technology that will give area doctors and patients faster access to diagnostic images.
Chris Keefe, Metro's chief financial officer, said its new system consists of special software and a Web portal. The software, Fusion RIS/PACS, is produced by Milwaukee-based Merge eMed. Patients' MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT (computed tomography) and ultrasound images can be posted, viewed and compared via the secure Web portal.
"The images are available to doctors as soon as the tests are complete," Keefe said. Physicians can look at a patient's images anytime, wherever they have high-speed internet access.
Radiologist Dr. Harley Hammerman, founder and chief executive of Metro Imaging, said the new technology eliminates the transfer of hard copies of images between doctors' offices.
The system also allows more than one doctor to consult on a patient's case simultaneously from multiple locations. Keefe said soon doctors will have monitors in their exam rooms so they can review diagnostic images directly with patients. About 150 physicians, most of them in private practice, already are using Metro Imaging's new system. Keefe said she hopes to have 500 more on line by the end of 2006.
The company tested the system in November and December, and rolled it out this year. Metro Imaging is Merge's only Fusion RIS/PACS system client in St. Louis. But Merge has similar systems in place in 500 other facilities across the country, said Beth Frost-Johnson, Merge's senior vice president of marketing. "About 30 percent of the marketplace has gone digital. This is still relatively new. But as health-care reimbursements decline, hospitals and imaging centers have to become more productive."
Metro Imaging is owned by a group of local radiologists: Hammerman, Gene Spector, Edward Cohen, Philip Trotta, E.C. Cabal, Albert Hammerman (brother of Harley), Sidney Machefsky, Mark Hoffman, Richard Koch, Lewis Halverson, Rajeshwar Luther and Jonathan Root. Trotta and Luther are the physicians on-site at the South County office; Harley Hammerman and Hoffman are at West County; Koch, North County; Dr. Ian Graham, St. Peters; and Albert Hammerman, Richmond Heights.
Harley Hammerman started the company in 1994. It now has annual revenue of $30 million.