Investing in Imaging

Last week, FierceMedical Imaging, the trade magazine reporting on the imaging industry, published “5 Medical Imaging Trends to Watch in 2013”.  As the article’s author, Mike Bassett noted, 2013 should be a very interesting year for medical imaging professionals.

In response to this article, we sit down with Managing Partner, Koleman Karleski to discuss what’s in store for the industry, from a venture investor’s point of view.

Q:  As an investor in and board member of two medical imaging companies (NextImage Medical and Foundation Radiology Group), why is this industry so attractive to venture capitalists?
Koleman:  The market for radiology services is huge — estimated at about $3 billion annually in the U.S. and close to $6 billion globally.  Chrysalis has been active investors in the medical imaging industry for five years.  During that time, lots has changed, but as an investor, I continue to see areas where technology allows these companies to become more efficient and effective — in turn, delivering better care to patients at lower costs.  But not all imaging providers are well equipped for these changes, which leads to consolidation – a trend we expect to see increase in the coming years.

Q:  In Basset’s article he points to an increase in mobile device use in radiology.  Do you see that change in the companies you work with?
Koleman:  Yes.  Advances in technology have transformed this industry, making it one of the early leaders in the growing telemedicine space. Technology enables 24x7x365 access to radiology sub-specialists where ever they are located, thereby ensuring a quick turnaround for hospitals and the best clinical result for patients.  Ultimately, I think mobile devices will lead to improved “physician-patient” interaction.  Images can be shared via mobile device, enabling the physician and patient to work together without necessarily being in the same office.

Q:  Finally, how will healthcare reform play a role in the imaging industry?  Will it benefit or will it cause the industry to further consolidate?
Koleman:  Healthcare reform will have an impact on almost every aspect of the system – based in large part on the fact that some 40 million people will become new insurance card carriers.  This onslaught of newly insured patients will stress the current delivery system, radiology included, which will create enormous pressure to both improve care cost effectively and do so more efficiently.  If the healthcare system is going to rise to the challenge of providing better care at sustainable costs, technologies that make the system more productive will be a big part of the solution.  One thing is certain, when you wake up five years from now the delivery of radiology services will look very different that what it does today.  And it certainly looks very different today than it did five years ago.