Making sure ultrasounds are up and running properly is a real challenge for many facilities these days. Sonora Medical Systems Inc (Longmont, Colo) is attempting to change that inevitable struggle. 24×7spoke to G. Wayne Moore, president and CEO of the company. Moore has been involved in diagnostic ultrasound since 1977 and has advanced through a series of leadership roles, including service engineering, product management, product development, sales, and strategic marketing with international companies. Moore founded Sonora in October 1996.
24×7: What are some products offered by Sonora Medical Systems?
Moore:Sonora offers products of its own design that focus on diagnostic ultrasound quality assurance (QA) and troubleshooting applications in the hospital environment, as well as new and refurbished original equipment manufacturer (OEM) ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) products, such as probes, coils, subassemblies, parts and high-end refurbished ultrasound systems to the aftermarket industry. In terms of services, Sonora offers depot-level repairs for both diagnostic ultrasound and MRI devices.
Our flagship product for ultrasound QA is the multiple-patented FirstCall probe tester. This unique product allows the user to objectively test multiple aspects of the acoustic and electrical performance of the ultrasound probe independent of the ultrasound scanner.
We recently introduced an inexpensive handheld ultrasound QA and test device known as the Nickel. The Nickel allows the user to test both the probe and the system. The product senses acoustic pulses being transmitted by an element within the array and illuminates an LED, informing the user that pulses are being received. The Nickel then sends an acoustic pulse back into the probe, which is then detected, processed, and displayed by the ultrasound system.
24×7: How does Sonora meet the varying needs of clinicians and service companies, as well as OEMs and independent dealers?
Moore:By offering a wide portfolio of products and services designed to meet the specific requirements of each of these types of customers. From a marketing standpoint, we keep a close watch on the aftermarket and conduct several market-specific focus groups each year designed to provide insight into what types of products and services each customer segment will need in the future.
24×7: What makes Sonora stand apart from its competitors?
Moore:After 10 years in this market, we are still the only independent aftermarket ultrasound and MRI supplier certified to IS0 9001 and the European Union Medical Device Directive. Sonora is also a very active member of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association—Ultrasound Section. In this regard, we participate with ultrasound OEMs in outlining and recommending potential acoustic and electrical testing standards for diagnostic ultrasound, for both the United States market as well as internationally.
24×7: What new products are you developing?
Moore:One product that we are currently developing is known as FirstAssist. It is designed to function as a synthetic probe that will attach to the standard probe connectors on ultrasound systems and mimic any probe that a particular ultrasound model can run. The first commercial unit will be available later this year. We also have plans for new MRI test tools as well as an acoustic hydrophone intended for the high intensity focused ultrasound market.
24×7: Where do you see the industry and Sonora heading?
Moore: Despite the industry consolidation and the giant OEMs, the medical imaging aftermarket’s future remains, in my view, very bright. The key to success for any company in this market segment is to stay focused on both providing and creating relevant cost-efficient technologies. I have been in this business long enough to have seen similar consolidations occur to what is happening now. Currently, we operate in an oligopoly controlled market, but history has shown that can change as market conditions change. It can sometimes be challenging to overcome the barriers that OEMs periodically put in place to protect their revenues, especially in the aftermarket, where service revenues can often be the only area where profits may be realized. However, Sonora is right in the middle of all this. Our efforts are aimed at helping hospitals and other health care providers maintain their own equipment, obviating the need in many cases for expensive OEM service contracts. Our in-house research and development effort is focused both on creating new empowering technologies that will test and evaluate ever more complex medical imaging devices and provide advanced repair services that mirror the new products introduced by the OEMs.