SIEMENS INVESTS IN DIGITAL PATHOLOGY, BUYS STAKE IN BIOIMAGENE
IMAGING AND RADIOLOGY GIANT SIEMENS just made an interesting investment in digital pathology systems. On October 16, Siemens Venture Capital (SVC) revealed that it had purchased a stake in BioImagene Inc. (www.bioimagene.com) of Cupertino, California. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.
The timing of this investment is a point of interest. Just four weeks earlier, BioImagene had recruited its new CEO from Siemens. Anjit Singh, Ph.D., a senior executive and 20-year veteran at Siemens, assumed his CEO duties at BioImagene on September 17. Previously, Singh was the CEO of the Siemens’ Image and Knowledge Management business in Erlangen, Germany. (See TDR, September 29, 2008.) Thus, just weeks after Singh’s arrival at BioImagene, Siemens became an investor.
Another noteworthy fact about Siemens’ decision to invest in BioImagene is that it marks the second major imaging corporation in 16 weeks to enter the market for digital pathology imaging systems. Back on June 5, General Electric announced a joint venture with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), called Omnyx, Inc. GE and UPMC are each investing $20 million to develop and market digital pathology imaging systems for primary diagnosis. (See TDR, June 16, 2008.)
It is not a coincidence that the world’s two largest radiology and imaging equipment manufacturers have both bought into a company developing digital pathology imaging systems within weeks of each other. Based on their study of market demand and emerging technologies, each company believes that: 1) digital pathology imaging systems can soon gain regulatory approval and be ready for use in primary diagnosis; and, 2) that first mover and early adopter pathologists will readily acquire and use these new digital pathology systems.
Taken together, the investments by Siemens and GE in emerging digital pathology companies should catch the attention of pathologists and pathology practice administrators. It is timely for pathology groups to revisit their informatics strategy and look for ways to use digital pathology to gain competitive advantage.
Further, the fact that the world’s two largest imaging companies are positioning themselves in the digital pathology marketplace is likely to encourage other investors to invest in these types of products. Should that happen, pathologists may see multiple competitors and, in coming years, enjoy falling prices for digital pathology systems because of this competition.
NYC POLICE CHARGE PATHOLOGIST FOR THEFT OF INSURANCE PAYMENTS
BAD APPLES CAN TURN UP IN ANY BARREL, a fact that’s true in every profession—including pathology. New York City police charged a former pathology department head at Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) with stealing nearly $19,000 worth of insurance payments by tampering with his hospital’s computer system.
Karl W. Lanks, M.D., 65, of Brooklyn, the former chairman of the hospital’s department of pathology and laboratory medicine, surrendered to police on October 7 and faces felony charges of computer trespass, computer tampering, and grand larceny, the Staten Island Advance reported.
Lanks worked for the hospital as a contractor and was not an employee. He chaired the pathology and laboratory medicine department for 14 years. Last year, Lanks left the hospital and became Medical Director at Enzo Biochem Inc., a clinical lab in Farmingdale, New York.
Court papers document how, from May 15 to 22 of 2007, before he left the hospital, Lacks gained access to the hospital network and changed billing codes so that insurance payments meant for SIUH went to him instead. An investigation by the district attorney’s office and NYPD’s Computer Crimes Squad led to Lanks’ arrest.
Lanks was arraigned in court October 8 and released on his own recognizance. He is scheduled to returned to court on November 24. He refused to comment on the case when contacted by the Staten Island Advance.
CLARIENT ENGAGES UNIV. OF PENN FOR TRAINING IN FLOW CYTOMETRY
IN AN UNUSUAL ARRANGEMENT between a public laboratory company and a university medical school, Clarient, Inc. has engaged University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting Resource Laboratory to develop a multilevel educational and technical training program for Clarient employees and staff.
In the first phase of this agreement, Clarient staff undergo quarterly on-site training by Flow Cytometry Lab personel. The training is designed to teach Clarient staff how: 1) to evaluate current procedures and education in specific processes; 2) to develop guidelines for clinical evaluation of hematologic malignancies, quality control and quality assurance procedures; and, 3) to develop programs to ensure compliance. In phase two of the agreement, UPenn’s professionals will provide ongoing, on-demand consulting and technical guidance regarding equipment and educational and process issues for Clarient.
It is likely that this formal consulting relationship between Clarient and the UPenn flow cytometry lab is a response to to the swift advances in the science and technology of flow cytometry and related diagnostic procedures. By linking up with an advanced academic center like UPenn, Clarient makes it easier for its scientists and technical staff to stay well trained on the state-of-the-art in flow cytometry. Another benefit is that Clarient will likely stay informed on key research and similar technology improvements that it can quickly incorporate into its laboratory and business as a way to gain competitive advantage.
MAYO CLINIC USES RFID SYSTEM TO REDUCE TISSUE SPECIMEN LABELING ERRORS
OVER THE PAST 18 MONTHS, clients and readers of THE DARK REPORT have followed the progress of Mayo Clinic’s use of RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips to dramatically cut specimen labeling errors in its high-volume gastrointestinal endoscopy center and the histology laboratory. (See TDR, January 29, 2007.)
At the upcoming 2008 American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) annual meeting, Mayo will report the results of this groundbreaking use of RFID technology in a laboratory setting. In the pre-RFID period, when Mayo’s endoscopy unit sent 8,231 specimen bottles to the pathology laboratory for evaluation during the first three months of 2007, there were 765 errors.
After implementing RFID labeling, the endoscopy unit sent 8,539 specimen bottles for evaluation in the first three months of this year, with only 47 errors, a reduction of 94%!
Schuyler Sanderson, M.D., a pathologist involved in the study, shared the operational aspects of this project at the 2007 Executive War College and again at the 2008 Lab Quality Confab held last month in Altanta, Georgia. Mayo has implemented the RFID system in all its gastroenterology surgery suites.