‘We remain an integral part of the Agfa-Gevaert Group, but have more legal independence as a division, allowing the organisation to take a number of specific decisions on a more autonomous basis.’
For the future, Agfa Healthcare needs to continue to fuel its profits, he pointed out. ‘The best way to achieve that is to offer unique, modern and innovative products that meet the demands of the market. Agfa has a good relationship with its customers who appreciate and believe in our solutions that clearly differentiate from those of our competitors. We really have all the ingredients necessary for success, including the know-how, image, reputation, the right people and excellent products and solutions. My target now is to strengthen certain areas that I feel are most promising for the future. One of those fields is, of course, IT. However, we must also ensure we maintain a strong focus on our imaging capabilities, which form an integral and core part of our business.’
In terms of strengths, he said that Agfa Healthcare has been an integrator for the healthcare environment. ‘It is one of our core skills and we apply these on two levels. First, our solutions consider the different requirements and expectations of our customers. This is, for example, the concept behind our new series of IMPAX Suites that were launched successfully in Europe at this year’s ECR. Simply said, our customers in orthopaedics have different needs than those in radiology, so what IMPAX does is to provide the same platform, but for different clinical use cases with different key targets. One obvious benefit is that, because they use the same platform, different hospital departments can work in an integrated manner.
‘This automatically leads me to the second level of integration. The challenge is to connect different users, from a single department to multiple departments, a hospital or even a multi-site centre by bringing together different systems, often from diverse vendors, or maybe even alternative PACS solutions. Our strengths in this field are well known, and we should, as Agfa HealthCare, ensure that we continue to build our business on this expertise.
‘So the goal is to ensure we continue to deliver high quality imaging solutions and at the same time expand the IT front to meet the needs of specific segments and reach a scalability of integration at different levels.’
What of the need for consultancy, to help hospitals to integrate systems? ‘Well we provide a kind of consultancy; years of experience in healthcare play an important role in our daily work with clients. What our customers want is a complete solution that fits in their healthcare surroundings. This demands different needs and capabilities, from country to country and hospital to hospital. In this business you need to be very specific. The delivery of state-of-the-art software and applications are only one part of the equation; being able to comply with national organisation requirements and customer needs is often the core challenge, and yes, our advice and knowledge do play a critical role here. We need to provide the best solution for each country and each hospital, and our extensive portfolio of solutions, from film, print and CR to healthcare enterprise IT systems are very well positioned to offer this.
‘Looking at geographic differences specifically, there are countries like Germany, Switzerland and Austria where we are well established as an Enterprise IT solution provider, while in other markets, such as the USA, we primarily intervene in the imaging informatics markets and have only started our ORBIS roll-out. So our task as a company is to find the right people, the right third party partnerships and the right way to integrate all applications, including legacy systems, which will enable us to deliver the right solutions to meet the needs of our customers. This is what plays along our core competencies.
‘A huge part of our business is global in terms of technology and applications. In addition, in terms of hospitals there is global vision: They will need to have all relevant information at the same place and make it accessible to everybody involved in a patient’s care.
‘Today, different people work with different systems, writing on different papers and working at different monitors. But if you want to treat diseases, all this information should be available every time, everywhere and from every participant. This challenge is being tackled, for example, by our IMPAX Data Centre, our scalable and fault tolerant DICOM archive solution designed to store clinical DICOM data objects. The system consolidates data of disparate storage systems onto a single point of storage. It caters for the needs of enterprise storage for large, multi-site and multi-facility healthcare domains.’
In the near future, he added, Agfa Healthcare’s aim is to strengthen some of its product portfolios, such as imaging and IT solutions, and continue to improve customer relationships. ‘Of course there will be innovations, but our primary goal is to ensure we deliver according to the expectations of our customers around the world. We have the solutions, the credibility, the right people and the right attitude to achieve this.’