Imris, Deerfield Imaging Inc., the Minnetonka-based company that sells elaborately designed neurosurgical suites featuring ceiling-mounted imaging machines, is striking a deal to work exclusively with German imaging giant Siemens Healthineers for several of the major products it installs in hospitals.
Imris and Siemens are expected to announce the strengthened collaboration Monday, under which Imris will support sales of Siemens devices for magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and angiography. Imris, meanwhile, will benefit from increased exposure from Siemens’ extensive sales force across the U.S.
“We have strengthened our long-standing relationship with Imris to increase our joint visibility into potential customer opportunities, with the goal of offering more robust products and services for the surgical suite as well as improving our collective success rates,” said Murat Gungor, senior vice president of diagnostic imaging at Siemens Healthineers North America, in an announcement. “A necessary first step in achieving these goals is to present a united front to our customers.”
In brain cancer cases, studies show that removing a greater proportion of the tumor during surgery is correlated with better outcomes in adults and children. But Imris said that neurosurgeons can’t always distinguish between normal tissue and a tumor with the naked eye, which is why patients often get an MRI the day after surgery to determine if more work is needed.
Hospitals hire Imris to design and build neurosurgery rooms in which patients can get their imaging done without leaving the operating room table, so that doctors can see if they have removed all the cancerous cells before ending the procedure. Avoiding follow-up operations saves hospitals money and spares patients the risks of additional surgery.
To make that possible, Imris hangs large imaging devices from the operating-room ceilings so they can be moved around on a gantry. The systems weigh so much that the components have to be attached directly to the hospital I-beams, requiring years of design and construction work. A simple configuration may cost $1.5 million, while a three-room project may run $5 million to $10 million.
Studies cited by Imris show that in 40 percent of all Imris cases, the neurosurgeon decides to modify the procedure in-progress based on the imaging. The company said surgeons have shown 30-point increases in the percentage of patients whose tumors are totally removed when intraoperative MRI imaging was used.
It typically takes two to four years for the hospitals’ savings from more precise surgeries and fewer follow-ups to break even with the additional costs of installing an Imris Surgical Theater, Imris CEO Andrew Flanagan said.
While Imris will only install Siemens MRIs, CTs and angiography devices going forward, Flanagan said Imris will continue to use a variety of different companies’ products for the rest of the devices needed in its precision surgery suites.
Asked whether the new arrangement with Siemens could be a prelude to an eventual acquisition of Imris, Flanagan said Imris is focusing on internal tasks like quickly ramping up the hiring of engineers for research and development, rather than focusing on finding a buyer for the company.
“There is so much more we can do in the market before we decide to find a strategic partner or an exit that I really don’t think about that,” Flanagan said. “That’s not really part of our mission, our job. Those things happen because you are doing something really well. I don’t feel those things happen because you try and make them happen.”
Flanagan’s appointment as CEO coincided with Imris’ acquisition by private-equity health care firm Deerfield Management in 2015. Since then, the private company — renamed Imris, Deerfield Imaging Inc. — increased its revenue by 44 percent in 2016. In 2017, Flanagan said, Imris grew its new contracts with customers by 60 percent and now has more than 75 systems installed in hospitals worldwide.
“It’s a very exciting time,” Flanagan said.