Intelerad continued its M&A streak, acquiring radiology reporting company, PenRad Technologies, in a relatively small deal that might have a much bigger impact than some think.
PenRad has a solid share of the breast and lung cancer screening reporting segments, making it a target of a number of PACS vendors in recent years.
The acquisition is another example of Intelerad using its private equity backing to complete its informatics portfolio, following a series of deals that allowed its expansions into new clinical areas (cardiac, OB/GYN), regions (UK), technologies (cloud), and functionalities (image sharing, cloud VNA).
Adding PenRad will immediately give Intelerad three proven cancer screening reporting solutions to offer to its PACS customers, while bringing Intelerad into an untold number of PenRad accounts that it didn’t work with before now.
The deal’s long-term impact will likely be dictated by how well Intelerad integrates and enhances its new PenRad technologies. If Intelerad is able to seamlessly integrate its PACS/worklist with PenRad’s dictation/reporting, it could create a truly unique advantage — especially if Intelerad expands its reporting capabilities beyond just cancer screening.
Intelerad’s PenRad acquisition and Sirona’s unified radiology platform also highlight the differentiating role that integrated reporting might play in future enterprise imaging portfolios, although there aren’t many more reporting companies still available for acquisition.
Informatics veterans might point out that it’s much easier to acquire a portfolio of companies than it is to integrate all that software — and they’d be correct. That said, most would also agree that Intelerad has assembled a uniquely comprehensive enterprise imaging portfolio and it would be extremely well-positioned if/when that portfolio becomes fully integrated.
A new Journal of Digital Imaging editorial from UCLA radiology chair Dieter R. Enzmann, MD proposed a complete overhaul of how radiology reports are designed and distributed, in a way that should make sense to radiology outsiders but might make some folks within radiology uncomfortable.
Dr. Enzmann’s “Smart New Deal” proposes that radiology reports and reporting workflows should evolve to primarily support smartphone-based usage for both patients and physicians, ensuring that reports are:
- Widely accessible
- Easily navigated and understood
- Built with empathy for current realities (info overload, time scarcity, mobility)
- And widely utilized… because they are accessible, simple, and understandable
To achieve those goals, Dr. Enzmann proposes a “creative destruction” of our current reporting infrastructure, helped by ongoing improvements in foundational technologies (e.g. cloud, interoperability) and investments from radiology’s tech leaders (or from their future disruptors).
Despite Dr. Enzmann’s impressive credentials, the people of radiology might have a hard time coming to terms with this vision, given that:
- Radiology reports are mainly intended for referring physicians, and referrers don’t seem to be demanding simplified phone-native reports (yet)
- This is a big change given how reports are currently formatted and accessed
- Patient-friendly features that require new labor often face resistance
- It might make more sense for this smartphone-centric approach to cover patients’ entire healthcare journeys (not just radiology reports)
It can be hard to envision a future when radiology reports are primarily built for smartphone consumption.
That said, few radiologists or rad vendors would argue against other data-based industries making sure their products (including their newsletters) are accessible, understandable, and actionable. Many might also recognize that some of the hottest imaging segments are already smartphone-native (e.g. AI care coordination solutions, PocketHealth’s imaging sharing, handheld POCUS), while some of the biggest trends in radiology focus on making reports easier for patients and referrers to consume.
Smartphone-first reporting might not be a sure thing, but the trends we’re seeing do suggest that efforts to achieve Dr. Enzmann’s core reporting goals will be rewarded no matter where technology takes us.