Setting the Standard for Medical Imaging

Whale Imaging
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Medical imaging technology has undergone important advancements over the last several years that have greatly improved the delivery of healthcare, as well as the associated costs. At the forefront of these advancements is Whale Imaging, a manufacturer of award-winning medical imaging technologies that are taking the medical environment by storm with innovative imaging systems.
Whale Imaging is celebrating twenty years of being the preferred medical imaging technology partner for surgeons across North America and beyond. Its market continues to grow as its reputation precedes it.

Throughout the past two decades, Whale Imaging has expanded significantly in both size and abilities. It now has a team of two hundred people with exceptional manufacturing capabilities, quality management processes and an ability to affect patient care on a new level.

“One of the things that people really appreciate is that the company is still small enough for everybody to make a difference, so if you are part of this team, you can get the feeling that you as an individual are really contributing towards the development and the sales and marketing of the product, and I think that’s a significant driver for motivated people who feel that they are making a difference,” said Cofounder and Senior Vice President of Operations and Marketing Laurence Heron.

The company develops, manufactures, markets and services highly technical surgical imaging systems. The expertise of its engineers, marketing professionals and management team has enabled it to adapt its products to quickly changing market needs.

“What we believe we offer versus our competitors, in a general sense, is a deep bed of technical knowledge regarding medical imaging and the ability to design the product from the ground up, which we regard as a core competency,” Heron said.

“Another thing we have uniquely as an organization is a very deep understanding of a variety of markets around the world, particularly Western markets, especially North America, but also Europe and Asia, especially China, and that is reflected in the cultural makeup of our executive and senior management teams,” he added.

Whale Imaging specializes in two main product lines: diagnostic portable ultrasound devices and biplanar surgical imaging devices. Heron described the first category as everywhere in the medical field, while the latter is a more unique, niche offering.

“The ultrasound, within medical use, has become quite commoditized. Most of our competitors buy their basic hardware and software in kit form from third parties and build their ultrasound around it,” said Heron.

“Because of our long experience in ultrasound, we are actually one of the few manufacturers that have the capability to completely design the diagnostic ultrasound system from the ground up, so all the hardware and software componentry is designed and manufactured by us.”

Whale Imaging manufactures the Sigma P5, a portable ultrasound system used in musculoskeletal (MSK) procedures such as cell and pain relief injections. It provides a good image resolution for optimal outcomes.

The Lambda P9 is a portable cardiovascular ultrasound system that exemplifies Whale Imaging’s proficiency in designing and integrating hardware and software needed to build equipment from the ground up. This cardiovascular echo system sets the company apart from most of its competitors in both performance and cost.

Whale Imaging’s noteworthy biplanar surgical imaging system is called the G-Arm and enables surgeons to see live images in two planes. When compared to the more common uniplanar C-Arm technology, it offers numerous advantages for surgeon and patient. The system relies on two x-ray generators used simultaneously and is the only one of its kind.

“What this provides in x-ray form is a moving image for the surgeon while he is performing the procedure. G-Arm is uniquely able to show both planes of view simultaneously, and that means a surgeon is able to perform a procedure more quickly, more easily, more accurately and with a greater degree of potential infection control because the G-Arm does not have to keep being rotated in and out from the sterile field,” Heron noted.

The ergonomic design of the G-Arm is easy to use and is primarily deployed in spine therapy and orthopedic trauma procedures. It provides surgeons with panoramic imaging, enabling them to see the entire spine at once.

The G-Arm has proven to be invaluable and was voted Best New Spine Technology at the North American Spine Society (NASS) Annual Conference in 2014. The prestigious award is a source of pride for Whale Imaging.

“As we go through our research and design process, we tend to look at least five years ahead, so we have a pipeline of products which will come out over the coming years. They are already in the design phase depending on when we intend for these to come out,” said Heron.

The company continues its development in such areas as artificial intelligence and robotics. Through its research and development efforts, Whale Imaging is identifying ways that advanced technology can be incorporated into existing products to improve their function.

Whale Imaging is strategically located in Waltham, Massachusetts in the Greater Boston Area, which affords it access to a skilled workforce and an active medical marketplace in which its products can be used for surgeons’ and patients’ benefit.

“We chose that area specifically,” Heron stated, “because it gave us access to a talent pool and gives us ready access to an array of prestigious medical groups in the area such as Beth Israel, Harvard General, et cetera.” Given the complex nature of the work it does, Whale Imaging relies on skilled technicians, which the Boston area has in abundance. Likewise, Whale Imaging profits from manufacturing and sales in Beijing, China, a market that continues to promise growth for the company.

Looking ahead, now that Whale Imaging has built a sound foundation for itself in North America, it is dedicating resources to establish offices that will help it to break into Europe and the Middle East.

This ISO 9001 and ISO 13485-certified company has a growing reputation and geographic service area. Whale Imaging is quickly asserting itself in the market and showing its ability to affect quality health care.

“You must never lose focus on the patient. It’s all about the patient in terms of trying to reduce costs in the system. Of course, that’s a challenge all over the world but particularly for the United States where the cost of health care has skyrocketed in the last couple of decades,” said Heron. Regarding gross domestic product (GDP), the U.S. spends nearly twice that of other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

“We can contribute to the efficiency of the system and, by doing that, help to reduce the burden for the individual patient and the taxpayer and, at the same time, just continually improve the level of care that the patient can be provided, helping the surgeons do the procedures better and more effectively and more safely, both for themselves and the patients.” One way that this has been achieved is through careful monitoring of the radiation doses that the surgeon and patient are exposed to during procedures.

Whale Imaging also improves accuracy, optimizes workflow and has developed economic and process improvements that have transformed healthcare delivery. It makes procedures safer, faster and easier and more accommodating to the finances of the institution and patient.

Whale Imaging is on the cutting edge of technology, and through the adoption of artificial intelligence, robotics and other technological advancements it aims to improve the ease of use of equipment in the medical technology field. “To survive and prosper in the medical environment, you have to continually evolve the product, and that’s why we have such a strong emphasis on research and development and why such a large proportion of our resources are dedicated to it,” Heron explained.

“Quality and safety are essential in this industry. We all have to remember that at, the end of the day, a patient’s life depends upon the safety and efficacy of our products, and that’s why it’s such a highly-regulated environment,” he said.



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