The acquisition brings together Olympus, the dominant microscope hardware provider in the American clinical laboratory market, and BLI, the specialist in virtual microscope slide technology and in microscope software for clinical laboratory applications. By securing BLI's patents and software capabilities as part of the transaction, Olympus has gained access to two key technologies, virtual microscope slide and telemedicine, enabling the company to offer the first and only comprehensive, one-stop solution for laboratories seeking a comprehensive virtual microscope slide system.
Virtual microscope slides allow professionals to review biopsies and other pathology images without handling traditional glass slides. Through telemedicine doctors can share highly detailed microscope images over the Internet for long-distance consultation. While both technologies are widely anticipated among health care professionals, neither has been used much up to now due to limited resources.
"The combination of Olympus microscope systems and BLI software could potentially bring pathology into the next century. This is a watershed moment in which a giant industry turns a corner and moves toward a new way of operating", stated Dr. Stephen S. Tang, group vice president and general manager, Life Science, Olympus America. "Being able to digitize slides, share analysis, and attach images to a patient's medical file is the next step we have been waiting for. It paves the way for more informed decisions by physicians, better-served patients, and enhanced teaching and training."
More than $6,5 billion in pathology testing was performed in the United States in 2003 according to a presentation by Christopher Jahnle, ASA, Managing Director, Haverford Health Partners, to the American Pathology Foundation, March 8, 2003, and the market continues to grow as testing increases and the population ages. Medical testing now informs more than 60 percent of the professional decisions that doctors make according to J.P. Morgan at the 24th Annual Healthcare Conference, January 9-12, 2006.
Medical slides contain so much high-resolution information that it can take thousands of typical digital pictures to reproduce all the data in one image, and powerful computers to store the data. Combining Olympus and BLI technologies in one solution can help streamline the process, improve speed of reporting, save substantial expense, and enhance patient care. Virtual microscope slide technology also will aid hospitals in fulfilling the President's mandate to have comprehensive patient Electronic Medical Record systems in place by the year 2014 as stated in "Transforming Health Care: The President's Health Information Technology Plan".
"This exciting acquisition is the first of its kind for Olympus America, putting us into the lead in virtual slide and clinical digital microscopy", stated F. Mark Gumz, president and chief operating officer, Olympus America Inc. "It is the latest in a series of acquisitions and investments that Olympus has made globally over the past few years as part of our worldwide strategy to develop, ally with, or acquire technologies that the company believes will be vitally important in how health care is delivered in the future."
BLI becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of Olympus America, retaining its name. The company's integration into the operations of Olympus' Scientific Equipment Group (SEG), part of Olympus Life Science, will start immediately. All BLI employees will retain their positions and continue to report to BLI management. Dr. James Bacus, president of BLI, and James Bacus, Jr., vice president of BLI, will report to Olympus management. BLI's licenses and other business relationships will remain mostly unaffected.
"It has long been my goal to partner with a company that has the strategic vision to help our country reach the potential of a new era in medicine. Olympus is that visionary company", stated Dr. Bacus. "Virtual microscopy, telemedicine and other digital technologies are the future of medical care in this country. Now, we are the only company in the world that has the hardware, software and expertise to help bring digital pathology imaging to its full potential to benefit human health."
Among the products to be sold by the combined company is the comprehensive BLISS system, designed for a single workstation, which combines an Olympus microscope, service and training with BLI software. BLI is also a provider of virtual microscope slides and Internet server software in medical education. These products are available immediately. Future products may include systems to help larger laboratories digitize their entire pathology suite.
Olympus works collaboratively with its customers and its parent company, Tokyo-based Olympus Corporation, to leverage R&D investment in precision technology and manufacturing processes across diverse business lines. These include gastro-intestinal endoscopes, accessories, and minimally invasive surgical products; advanced clinical and research microscopes; lab automation systems, chemistry-immuno and blood bank analysers and re-agents; and digital and film cameras and digital voice recorders.
In the United States and Canada, Olympus America serves health care and commercial laboratory markets with integrated product solutions and financial, educational and consulting services that help customers efficiently, reliably, safely, and easily achieve superior results. Olympus is a specialist in gastro-intestinal endoscopy and clinical and educational microscopes. The company's consumer products business spans North and South America.