Thursday, May 06, 2010

Movin' On

The Merge First Quarter Earnings Call takes place in a few moments. I'm probably not going to be on it, as I'm not an investor. Well, I am an investor in an AMICAS PACS system, making me a customer, and an investor of sorts, but that may not count.  And besides, I have to do some barium enemas and upper GI's this morning.  The patients come first.

Let me bring everyone up to date.  I've been in touch with several members of the old AMICAS team, people that I have come to know and trust over the years, people who know and trust me.  It seems that many, if not most, were offered their positions back under their terms (working remotely, for example) at 4PM yesterday.  I would like to think that Merge realized the truth in what I have been saying, hopefully from within and not due to the postings of one lone average radiologist.  Sadly, this comes after too much water under the bridge.  My friends as a man (gender-neutrally speaking) declined the offer.  I asked them point blank if anything could reverse this decision.  They again said, "No."  There had been too much acrimonious discussion leading up to the offer, and everyone concerned had more or less decided it was time to move on.  And so they shall, as I understand it.  I'm sure they will all live long and prosper. 

As for me and my AMICAS systems (we have two, my group owns one, and the hospital owns the other), I'm going to sit tight.  We all know in this business that it is impossible to switch from one vendor to another without considerable pain and suffering, not to mention a huge expenditure.  Merge has finally reached out to me and other members of the (now defunct, I guess) Medical Advisory Board, and wants to meet with us to outline its plans for the future of AMICAS PACS.  They have even invited Mike Cannavo, the One and Only PACSMan to come up as well.  (We're wondering if he and I should bring food tasters...just kidding.)  While I can't personally make it to Chicago any time soon, I'll be in touch by phone, and I will listen, and contribute where I can.  We customers are, for the moment, a captive audience, and I can only hope that Merge will do what I was promised it will do, continue to support and develop AMICAS PACS.  I'm sure they will try to do so, although the loss of pretty much everyone who built this software from the ground up is a terriffic blow to this effort. 

I am going to be cautiously optimistic.  What else can I do?  We have to move on.  I'll let you know how it goes.  And I'll be looking very, very carefully at the rest of the market.

By the way, I just got this comment from Anonymous (of course!):

Dr. Dalai: I think you should find the time to go visit Merge. They've reached out to you, albeit belatedly, and I think you should reach back. Also, I think you should try to convince some of your Amicas friends to come back. After all, if you care about the quality of the product as much as you claim, it behooves you to do so.

I will make the trip when my schedule allows, and I'm in touch in the meantime.  As far as convincing anyone to return, I've really gone way far out on a limb on that, more than you guys will ever know. I've done what I can do.  Funny how it's now my responsibility in the mind of Anonymous at least to do so.

I should add something else.  I don't want to be the center of attention, believe it or not.  I'm a generally shy fellow, and I don't like conflict very much.  I inserted myself into this fray to preserve a product that I firmly believe helps me help my patients.  That's all I want out of the whole thing.  Hopefully, my fifteen minutes of fame has now passed, and we can get back to business.


SpideyKnows_Sales said...

I believe you have accomplished everything you wanted. Impressive, actually. Now, the "Dalai" is even more well known.

The "heart" of AMICAS (people)are now gone. The product will survive, just not with the same passion that has been there the last 10 years. The immediate items on the development list will continue, perhaps a little late.

I vote they should wear a specific colored tie depending on which product they are selling that day.

Merge RIS/PACS - orange
AMICAS RIS/PACS - lime green
AMICAS PACS - lime green
Merge Fusion PACS - bright orange
Merge eMED PACS - light orange
Merge eFilm - no tie, too cheap
Merge Cedara - pink (for Mammo)
Merge DICOM box - pocket protector
Merge Cardio - Red

Somebody will have to create a Flow chart for the sales team every morning, so they can figure out which uniform.

Anonymous said...

This is truly a sad situation, no doubt totally mishandled by Merge. What we had here was a case of extreme arrogance on the part of Mr. Ferro and Mr. Dearborn. I think this episode is the reason the stock price hasn't gone up after a good earnings report.

Even when I, a long-tirm investor and follower of various companies in HCIT, called Merge to tell them to listen to you, they refused. If the lady in corporate relations to whom I spoke failed to send my urgent message upstairs, she ought to be punished. If she did, more fool Ferro and Dearborn.

Now, it's too late. A large chunk of the value of their acquisition is already gone. Ferro should personally call those Amicas developers and beg them to return (with nice raises). Ditto for Seattle. If they say no, they are just being PETULENT! If they are really as passionate as you say, they will come back.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Dalai: I think you should find the time to go visit Merge. They've reached out to you, albeit belatedly, and I think you should reach back. Also, I think you should try to convince some of your Amicas friends to come back. After all, if you care about the quality of the product as much as you claim, it behooves you to do so.

Anonymous said...

Let us move on. Merge is clearly intending to keep the business growing but they need to do this with operational efficiency (thus if some engineers do not want to move then Merge will need to move on without them). Too bad it had to be done in an ugly way, as it sounds. That is unnecessary and quite foolish unless they really DO want to get rid of these people (the most likely scenario here). After acquisitions, you tend to want to get rid of your sour grapes staff because they do more harm than good as a business tries to move forward.

Moving forward, growth is likely to come in ways that end up providing you great new products that may even exceed your satisfaction with your existing AMICAS PACS.

In the mean time, I cannot understand the meaning behind the tie colors... but it would be interesting to your opinions about each product/product line.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Dalai: I'm only anonymous because I don't have a google account (I try to boycott google because of the way google and youtube behave vis-a-vis conservatives). If Merge is trying to bring the Amicas developers back into the fold, they're basically admitting they made a big mistake.

I'm a Merge stock investor, an exremely disappointed one at present. Like you, I have a stake in the outcome here. You and I both made an effort to save Merge from itself, but our pleas fell on deaf ears, and the performance of the stock price post-conference call reflects the damage which has been done. I know that you can't really put humpty together again, but maybe you can glue a few of the larger pieces of shell. That's the best both you and I can do now. But, we should at least try.

Anonymous said...

BTW: I'm glad you will make the trip. I'm glad you're accepting the olive branch being offered. It makes no sense to me that your Amicas friends should refuse to accept the olive branch, as well. That's just not fair to Merge, which is now trying to do the right thing. Everyone remembers Billy Martin vs. George Steinbrenner. Two arrogant but brilliant men. The always figured out how to patch up differences, and get down to the business of winning world championships.

It takes a big man (or woman) to put ego aside and see the big picture. I think the Merge guys have done it.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Dalai- good for you, your integrity and tenacity is enviable. Merge has come in like a bulldozer and without a thought to the patient, the product or the end user wiped away the backbone behind the products at both Amicas and Camtronics. Shame on them-- someday they may need the product and no amount of money is going to help at that time Mr. Ferro !!

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget about the DocuSys line of Anesthesia software Merge purchased a few months back. As a former DocuSys employee and a non-Merge new-hire(thank God!) I have seen Merge come in and obliterate a support group that gave 110% to this product and wanted nothing more than to see this suite of applications succeed. First was to downsize the entire support staff by more than half. This was intelligent how? Next they tell the remainder to relocate and be suited up in one of the main offices in a week and a half. Orange scarves for the women and orange ties for the men. Needless to say no one took the offer to relocate, so next Merge comes back and gives everyone a termination date in the near future and asks for a knowledge transfer of the products. Again this was intelligent how? "Please stick around and help us and we will grace you with a paycheck till your termination date cause we really need you to help us make this product successful!" Then dump them like a bad habit in the middle of the holidays when no one is hiring. At this point Merge comes back and tells them to act like the relocation offer never happened and they can continue to work remotely for a superior minded company capable of making fantastic business decisions. Let's recap: You spend a tremendous amount of $$ for products and piss off the R&D and support structures for these products and think you will go on your merry way of 1) Keeping your existing customers happy, 2) Future customers will interview existing customers and find out that the product intellects were screwed over and then let go by the arrogance of a couple of head id 10 t's and 3) Continued product enhancements will be delayed considerably due to no one knowing anything about the products. Again this is intelligent how?