Friday, March 19, 2010

Unruly Customers

There is a nasty old limerick that begins, "I have no aversions to mergin's with. . ." which is all I can repeat on this family-friendly blog.  Well, I do have some aversion to, well, really fear of, AMICAS mergin' with Merge.  As a loyal and vocal customer of AMICAS, I need to hear that the AMICAS product line will continue unscathed, which means that the majority of the development team and management will be kept on as well. 

No doubt AMICAS never discussed my presence in the Blogosphere with Merge.  That might have scuttled the deal right then and there.  Just ask GE and Agfa if they enjoy basking in my reflected glory and attention.  But its up to the buyer to perform due dilligence and discover these little glitches, and certainly the financiers at Morgan Stanley had the same obligation.  I wasn't hiding anywhere, guys!

Merge has returned to viability, if not yet profitability, under the stewardship of Michael W. Ferro, Jr., Chairman and CEO, Merrick Ventures, LLC, owner of Merge, as well as Justin C. Dearborn, CEO of Merge itself.  These are smart, successful guys.  How smart and successful the lenders at Morgan Stanley are remains to be seen, but one would think they wouldn't release $250 Million without some chance of getting it back with interest.  (Of course, this nation just experienced an economic meltdown due to the government forcing lending institutions to give out cash to people that couldn't possibly pay it back, but I digress. . .)

According to DOTmed.com, AMICAS has 250 installations at over 500 facilities. Centricity PACS is installed globally, with over 1000 sites (although none to my knowledge are running the IntegradWeb product purchased several years ago). Fusion RIS/PACS has 200 installs, and Agfa IMPAX has more than 400 sites worldwide.  For those who weren't aware, Fusion is the descendant (and I don't know how much it has been changed since then) of the old eMed Matrix PACS. 

Historically speaking, Merge bought eFilm in 2002, then RIS Logic in 2003, creating their first integrated RIS/PACS.  Meanwhile, Cedara bought eMed in 2004, and then merged with Merge in 2005.  From 2006 through 2008, Merge experienced "corporate reorganizations and restatements", and then "returned to profitability" when Merrick invested in it in 2008.  This is a reasonable pedegree, not all that different from AMICAS as outlined here.  But today, we have Merge with a smaller PACS base and significantly less capitalization buying up its larger competitor courtesy of a very large loan. 

Potential PACS buyers, at least those who do their due diligence, often stumble on this blog looking for ideas as to what to buy or what not to buy.  I don't have any illusions about my ability to influence anyone, but as the lone radiologist PACS blogger, I do get some minor degree of attention.  As such, and as a customer and user of AMICAS PACS since 2004, I have strongly favored and advised its purchase.  But, with the current state of affairs, I have to put that ON HOLD for the moment.  We MUST hear something about the new owners' intentions toward their new acquisition.

If Mr. Ferro or Mr. Dearborn should feel so inclined to comment, this is what I would like to hear:
  • Merge will continue the support and development of AMICAS PACS and other software, without increasing fees to AMICAS users, making AMICAS PACS the flagship product of the new company.
  • Merge will keep the AMICAS development team intact, and as much of management as is possible in this situation.
  • Merge will continue to support AMICAS' Emageon customers, while offering them an upgrade path to AMICAS PACS, again without increasing fees.  The upgrade path should require minimal cost (unlike the potential path to Centricity IW if it ever really happens).
  • Ditto for Merge's own Fusion users (I try to be fair in these things).
  • Merge will find ways to integrate the other products in its portfolio with AMICAS PACS.
  • Merge will change its name to AMICAS-Merge, or at least to Merge-AMICAS. 
I realize this whole merger business was borne of a desire to maximize stock-prices, and as an avowed Capitalist, I must approve.  However, as physician using AMICAS PACS, I have to get up on my bully pulpit (which is definately full of bully) and make these statements/requests/demands on behalf of all of us AMICAS customers. 

Now we see why the AMICAS Board of Directors failed to include me in their portfolio.  Nothing worse than an unruly customer with a blog.

3 comments:

SpideyKnows_Sales said...

Man oh Man...they have more President's than a Bank.

Anonymous said...

Regarding dotmed's data - keep in mind, that's only AMICAS' "PACS" profile - they also have a VERY substantial RIS and Financials customer base as well.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think you are so deserving of a call? With all due respect, and I love you by the way, you are obviously blind to the many problems that Amicas has. Say what you want, but go find out how they are doing in the hospital market!! Some scary, scary installs going on there. Secondly, Merge is not buying this company to screw it up! They are some smart people and want to build upon the successes of Amicas and tweak the areas that need to be tweaked (like actually being able to function in a hospital setting). Dr Dalai, just relax! Whatever happens is going to happen. Everyone understands that you love Amicas and their team. So, I am sure if they were seeking opinions they would go after some unbiased opinions.