Philips Medical Systems (PMS), the Dutch leading manufacturer of medical imaging devices and software for hospital radiology departments and laboratories, has paid about 800 million dollars to acquire the Seattle based company ATL Ultrasound. This surprising business transaction will turn PMS into an international top player, particularly in the field of ultrasound applications, according to the Automatisering Gids. Ultrasound indeed constitutes a huge market potential. In the United States, a yearly amount of nearly 100 million dollars is spent on ultrasound techniques for female patients alone, whereas the market annually increases with 12 to 15 percent.
ATL (Advanced Technology Laboratories) is a major provider of diagnostic systems and is highly specialized in digital broadband ultrasound devices and software. In this particular domain, PMS practically had no part in the growing market development up till now. In the years to come, the Dutch hospitals plan to spend hundreds of million guilders to digitize their radiology departments. An increasing number of medical experts, including cardiologists, urologists, and pathologists, are already applying ultrasound techniques to facilitate the process of diagnosis.
PMS will integrate all products and services of ATL Ultrasound into its own product assortment. ATL has realized an annual turnover of 430 million dollar in 1997. Globally, about 2600 co-operators display a dynamic activity in more than one hundred countries in Europe and the United States. For Philips spokesman Paul Smit, this means reason enough to believe that the acquisition will offer PMS important chances for growth within the Dutch marketplace. In the Netherlands, the PMS turnover amounts to between 15 and 20 million guilders. The company has subsidiaries in more than one hundred countries all over the world.
In the past, ATL has been partnering with Kodak's medical division to further the development of image management and to promote the use of the DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) standard for medical imaging technologies. This activity has been fully taken over by Kodak now. Nevertheless, the Kodak and ATL systems are perfectly compatible thanks to the DICOM standard, according to PMS. In Dutch health care, there exists a growing tendency to apply state-of-the-art systems from abroad. Earlier this year, PMS decided to replace its self-designed laboratory system Labosys with software developed in the United States. The Virtual Medical Worlds Magazine has reported on this evolution in the article Philips Medical Systems reseller in Benelux of Sysware's PowerLAB.