Feds OK Philips’ purchase of Agilent’s med biz; Marconi reorganization fuels sale rumors

Again with the name change …
Feds OK Philips’ purchase of Agilent’s med biz
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The U.S. Department of Justice gave the go-ahead for Royal Philips Electronics to purchase Agilent Technologies Inc.’s Healthcare Solutions Group (HSG), which is based in Andover, Mass.

The decision comes after nearly seven months of routine, but complex antitrust investigations. Philips originally announced its plans to buy Agilent HSG for $1.7 billion on Nov. 17, 2000. European regulators sanctioned the merger back in March. The sale could close sometime this summer, pending similar regulatory clearances from officials in Canada, Brazil and Russia.

But Philips is looking at the big picture. The $2.1 billion investment in HSG comes close after its December 2000 acquisition of ADAC Laboratories Inc. The sum will make Philips Medical Systems a $5 billion company and a dominant worldwide marketer of medical imaging and cardiology products.

Marconi reorganization fuels sale rumors
Marconi plc, based in London, shifted its Medical Systems business unit to Marconi Capital, prompting rumors that the medical imaging equipment and healthcare information systems segment may be for sale.

Marconi plc has a history of shifting some business units to Marconi Capital prior to their disposition. Marconi Medical Systems Inc. (Highland Heights, Ohio) is included in the strategic relocation to Marconi Capital.

New consortium enters crowded standards arena
Yet another group has been organized to create standards for software used in healthcare. This time the project has a clever name — MedBiquitous. The Johns Hopkins-led effort says it wants to create XML (eXtensible Markup Language) definitions to facilitate movement of healthcare information via existing World Wide Web technology.

XML is derived from the original Standard Graphic Markup Language (SGML) and has been among World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards since 1998. XML tags allow communication of structured data between disparate systems using rules to convert the data into text formats that can be queried, viewed, edited and communicated by Web browsers and other HyperText Markup Language (HTML) tools. Originally, XML tags were intended to be platform independent, object-oriented and dynamic, with definitions created on the fly. In practice, the technology can work better when the objects are predefined.

Program turns PC junk into student training
Jack Mendez was given a small Dell desktop personal computer from a stack of scrapped machines. Mendez ran his fingers over the case of the PC, feeling for connectors that identified the presence of a video card, modem and other necessary add-ons. Satisfied the machine could be restored, Mendez handed it back and the PC was placed on pile of “good” machines. His guide dog, Rusty, gave the PC a sniff. A brief wag of his tail suggested Rusty approved of the decision.

Mendez and Rusty are part of Volunteers in Providence Schools (VIPS), a program that recruits people to work with students in this Rhode Island city. Mendez teaches computer skills to kids in middle and high school, aged 10-18 years.

For more information, or for suggestions on how to find similar programs in your area, you can visit the VIPS Web site at www.vips4kids.org or call them at 401-274-3240.

You Gotta Love It!

d01c.jpg (7741 bytes)Vulcan Hauls Keel
You just never know where six massive interlocking blocks of lead totaling 45 tons are going to show up next. Just ask the folks over at Vulcan Lead. The same people who bring you protection everyday in the radiology department — the same people who gave lead weights to the U.S. luge team (YGLI, June 1999) — pumped lead into Denis Sullivan.

No, he’s not a Boston hoodlum. Denis is a 133-foot long, 24-foot high schooner built in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Sailing Vessel Denis Sullivan was the first tall ship built in the Badger State in more than 100 years and Vulcan donated the labor to design, produce and finish the nearly 90,000 pounds of keel ballast that keep Denis upright while sailing. (Apparently Denis gets a little tipsy on the high seas.)

Operation Cure All

imageThe Web Worm does a lot of shopping online since there aren’t many underground shopping malls (outside of Toronto, anyway). This online bargain hunting includes medical products, so the wiggly wallet-waver was pleased to find a site offering advice about buying medical products and devices online, courtesy of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health and the federal Operation Cure All program. The page advises patients to be careful consumers, from buying contact lenses to hearing aids to home test kits and more.

websiteSome of the words of wisdom were no-brainers for the slithering cybershopper, but other information was handy — even for handless worms. For example, did you know the expiration date for your contact lens prescription is set by your state, some of which require a one-year renewal, some a two-year renewal, and others that leave it to your doctor to decide?

With HMOs forcing patients to less expensive sources for these products, our spineless hero feels better knowing Uncle Sam is keeping his eyes out for us — lenses and all.


RankinAfter 23 x-ray years, Rankin experiences Genesis
Genesis Medical Imaging (Elgin, Ill.) appointed Norman Rankin to the post of director of logistics, global parts and tubes sales.

Rankin is an industry veteran. He started with CT pioneer EMI Medical in 1978 as an engineer. He moved into the ISO end of the business with Third Party Services/Data Scan/R Squared Scan Systems, holding a variety of national sales and regional service management positions. Rankin did a ten-year stint at Marconi Medical Systems before heading to Genesis, most recently serving as technical operations manager and product support center manager at Marconi’s Highland Heights, Ohio, headquarters.

SFG teams up with Peritum Consulting
Service management consulting firm Strategies for Growth (Westtown, Pa.) announced it has teamed up with Peritum Consulting Inc. of Wilmington, Del., to assist clients contemplating customer resource management (CRM) software systems with planning and implementation services. Strategies for Growth consults in strategic planning, customer service improvement and customer satisfaction research. Peritum specializes in CRM projects.

William K. Pollock, president of Strategies for Growth and a popular HealthTech conference speaker on the topic of business process reengineering, says the agreement solidifies a longstanding relationship between the two firms.

FDA continues crackdown on mammography
Two years after the FDA finalized Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) regulations, mammography facilities continue to receive a startlingly higher percentage of FDA noncompliance warnings.

The number of warning letters to mammography centers began to mushroom in August 1999 and the share of monthly violation totals consistently has been in the double digits. The FDA’s Web site shows that in the first three months of 2000, 35 percent of all warning letters (100 of 281) were sent to mammography centers.

The MQSA regulates equipment performance, quality assurance records and tests, medical audit and outcomes analysis records, medical records, and, unlike other X-rays, personnel qualification. More stringent requirements are scheduled to start in October 2002.

Research firm predicts capno resuscitation
A combination of upgraded standards for anesthesia monitoring and new guidelines for monitoring during resuscitation, along with the introduction of new products, has pumped fresh air into respiratory gas monitoring sales, according to market research firm Frost & Sullivan (San Jose, Calif.).

In a report released June 21, Frost & Sullivan’s healthcare group said the respiratory gas monitoring market was “stagnant” between 1999 and 2000. The group now predicts demand in this segment will increase each year, with annual sales revenues expected to top $100 million by 2007.

Alliance formed between service application vendors
ClickSoftware (Campbell, Calif.) and Antenna Software, Inc. (New York) announced a marketing alliance to expand their Web and wireless field service automation product offerings to small-and mid-sized companies.

Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will jointly market each other’s products. ClickSoftware offers service management tools, along with ClickFix, ClickSchedule, and ClickMobile, to assist with problem resolution, optimized scheduling and efficient wireless communication for customers and resources during service execution.

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