October 13, 2011
Independent voice of digital radiology silenced?
By: Jennifer Fiala
For The VIN News Service
A company billed as the “independent voice” of digital
radiology has been bought by one of the largest corporate entities in
veterinary medicine — Idexx.
Now former DVMInsight CEO Dr. Matt Wright is catching flak from
who characterize the outspoken champion of independent practice as a
DVMInsight is in the business of easing the way for
independent radiologists to operate. Wright declined to detail what prompted him to sell his company but says he believes the move to Idexx will only strengthen DVMInsight.
"I'm still managing DVMInsight from offices in San Diego with the same team. Nothing has changed," Wright tells the VIN News Service.
are curious about the apparent 180-degree turn Wright has taken. The boarded radiologist positioned his business
the antithesis of “faceless” mega-companies.
Idexx Laboratories is best known for its ever-expanding network of
veterinary reference laboratories and in-house diagnostic and detection
equipment for veterinary practices. It’s also known for computer
software and an entire division dedicated to telemedicine.
Wright had eschewed large corporations encroaching on teleradiology
much that a competitor has sued him, in part, for making
alleged libelous statements such as this: "We're more effective than the so-called 'big boys' that try to pass off a sweat shop for a teleradiology service." With quarterly earnings reported at $317.9 million,
Idexx presumably was included in Wright’s characterizations.
“What I find really interesting is that Matt wrote this blog about
how terrible corporate teleimaging companies are, and now he is part of
one,” says a board-certified radiologist who spoke on condition of
anonymity, seeking to avoid the controversy. “There’s a little
bit of hypocrisy there.”
Dr. Daniel Feeney, a boarded
radiologist in the University of
Minnesota Veterinary Medical Imaging Group (UMVMIG) who uses DVMInsight daily, is equally perplexed: “Considering the rhetoric he’s put out
there, this isn’t what I expected.”
Unless Idexx makes
significant changes, Feeney says he and his UMVMIG colleagues plan to continue with
DVM Insight, which provides an Internet-based platform that allows them
to send and receive images and consultation reports. They also can
store the information.
“We got a letter from Idexx that says our clients (will remain)
our clients. There will be a name change and likely a few other changes,
we are prepared to deal with that,” he says.
As far as the sale of DVMInsight is concerned, Feeney muses:
“Maybe it was the business opportunity of a lifetime. I’m sure
it was a complex decision for Matt.”
Wright built a business serving individual radiologists working
own cases and creating their own businesses as a counter to large
that bundle radiology equipment with services manned by a stable of
radiologists reading images.
The latter model, Wright has argued, drives down pay for
encourages homogenized reports and emphasizes deadlines over accuracy.
“The bottom line with all of this is that commoditizing
teleradiology results in a situation where potentially inexperienced and
underpaid radiologists are pressured to create wish washy reports
they need to meet deadlines,” Wright once stated in his online newsletter, Animal Insides.
Whether that newsletter survives the move to Idexx remains to be
The sale, which closed last month for an undisclosed amount, also
DVMInsight subsidiary Sight Hound Radiology, which provided 24-hour
diagnostic teleradiology services to DVMInsight users.
The acquisition was not mentioned in Idexx’s latest Form 8-K report, filed in August. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
mandates that public companies report significant changes such as
and major purchases in Form 8-K filings.
So far, the Idexx purchase appears to have had little impact on how
DVMInsight and Sight Hound function, though their websites have
been scrubbed of content, including a series of animated skits Wright
narrated that spurred a lawsuit by competitor PetRays Veterinary
Teleradiology Consultants, P.A.
Filed in San Diego
County Superior Court on Aug. 27, 2010, the lawsuit contends that the video skits
published on the Sight Hound Radiology website made misleading and
statements advertising the services of DVMInsight over the “nameless,
faceless” services of larger corporations.
According to PetRays co-founder Frank Powell, MD, the lawsuit is in
discovery stages, and Wright’s move to Idexx — where he and
DVMInsight’s Chief Technology Officer Stephen Walters now work —
will not shield him from litigation.
“This lawsuit is filed against Matt Wright personally,” he
In an October 2010 issue of Animal Insides, Wright contends that the lawsuit is without merit.
In a press release, Wright states that the Idexx-DVMInsight
“partnership signals a new beginning for teleradiology where central
services work alongside independent radiologists and referral centers
Dr. John Feleciano, manager of radiology at Idexx, adds: "IDEXX is
committed to making telemedicine easy to use for our clients. Whether
use our telemedicine service or use a local radiologist, we want to make
simple. Dr. Matt Wright and his team at DVMInsight will help guide us as
work to achieve this goal."
Growing its teleradiology division via DVMInsight isn't the only
change slated for Idexx. The company is in the midst of expanding its
reference laboratory in
Memphis, a move that's expected to create 100 new jobs.
At the same time, 25 Idexx workers in Eau Claire, Wis, expect to receive pink
starting in December.
The layoffs are part of a cost-savings plan, Idexx explained in a
local news report. Operations are being consolidated at Idexx headquarters in Westbrook, Maine.
Idexx employs 5,000 people with clients in 168 countries.
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