Sonoscape

Portable, easy-to-use ultrasound units but with high-end performance

With a network of distributors covering 100 countries, a loyal base of customers driving double-digit growth and a full line of ultrasound scanners touching every clinical application, from advanced cardiology to routine examinations, Sonoscape reports that it is solidly ranked among the top companies for medical imaging in Europe.

Randy Hwan (left) with EH China representative China Gavin
Randy Hwan (left) with EH China representative China Gavin

The firm also recently received a Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Award as well as a prestigious Top Brand quality certification from the People’s Republic of China. All this, yet Sonoscape is a relatively young company. ‘We like challenges,’ explained Vice President Randy Hawn, pointing out that the firm’s ethos is traceable to its founder Jinzhong Yao, considered the ‘Father of Ultrasound’ in China, and still actively innovative as President of Sonoscape.
Facing a crowded, highly competitive ultrasound market, the firm adopted a contrarian strategy and entered the toughest markets first, introducing an unexpected and highly innovative product -- the SSI 1000, the world’s first portable colour Doppler, which won its CE mark in 2004. With strong appeal for emergency departments and specialised practices, e.g. obstetrics, this gave Sonoscape a firm foothold in Europe. ‘At first it was a little difficult for Europeans to accept a new name in the business, and then to understand that this powerful and high performance portable was coming from China,’ he said. ‘Very quickly, of course, everyone tried to match this capability. It’s been interesting to watch the big companies building down from their high-end machines to the portable scale.’
Meanwhile, Sonoscape moved in the opposite direction, continually building up its ultrasound product line from the portable toward the high-end. At Medica 2009, the firm introduced its SSI 8000, a full-featured, cart-based clinical scanner that supports an impressive array of probes and transducers covering a range of applications from cardiac examinations to advanced trans-oesophageal explorations.
The successful portable line has also expanded to 10 different models, including the S8, introduced at Medica, matching the performance of high-end, cart-based ultrasound systems in a more affordable and transportable unit.
All Sonoscape systems are Linux-based and can be upgraded with new features or serviced through an internet connection.
‘In general, portable ultrasound has an immediate appeal for emergency departments, but we have also found opportunities in markets where specialists simply prefer to bring ultrasound with them between different locations for their practice,’ Randy Hwan added. Clinicians in Italy immediately adopted the portable concept, which gave the company such a strong presence there, that it set up its European service centre in Rome. ‘Some markets tend more heavily toward the portable models, such as Russia or Italy, whereas France and Germany tend to prefer the larger trolley based units,’ he said, adding that Eastern Europe is more evenly balanced in wanting a nearly 50-50 blend between mobility and clinical-scale units.
Sonoscape’s success in business is also the result of a contrarian strategy. ‘Our first markets, which may surprise you, were the toughest ones -- the USA and Europe. We knew we had a unique offer for clinics with the colour portable, and our strategy was to take on the challenging opportunities first.’ Now, he added, having built a broad based international business, Sonoscape is focusing on the market you’d have expected it to develop first -- China.
‘What makes Sonoscape unique is our ability to continually keep ultrasound scanners simple yet with very powerful clinical features,’ he explained. ‘Acceptance of a Chinese company was easier for people looking at our low-priced black-and-white units, but as they look further to the colour Doppler and advanced capabilities of our expanding product line, they really open their eyes to the possibilities. Our strategy is to offer all features and imaging effects for advanced examinations throughout the range of our products. In other words, we put a high performance comparable to high-end equipment in to portable, easy-to-use units.’
This, he ended, is the company’s contribution to healthcare -- reducing costs for ownership of high quality instruments to help improve outcomes.

02.03.2010

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