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Imaging software company sees bright future ahead

on May 4, 2011

With regulatory approval in hand, Riverain Medical is looking to boost sales of its imaging software that the company says can help radiologists better diagnose lung disease via its “bone suppression technology.”

The Dayton, Ohio-area company last year received 510(k) clearance on two imaging software products and has thus far completed about 30 customer installations. But CEO Diane Hirakawa hopes to see that number balloon in the coming months and years, and a recent partnership with imaging giant Siemens could help Riverain get there.

Siemens added Riverain’s SoftView, which produces soft tissue images of the chest, to its Ysio digital radiography system. Ysio is a full-service system that can image the body from almost any angle, medical technology blog Medgadget reported.

It validates our technology and shows the importance of developing new solutions to improve early stage lung cancer screening tools,” Hirakawa said of the Siemens deal.

SoftView uses bone suppression technology to essentially allow radiologists to see behind ribs and clavicles to get better views of pulmonary nodules — spots on the lungs that can be a form of early stage cancer but can also be benign.

“We always get the ‘wow’ factor when we share it with radiologists,” said Hirakawa, who previously led Procter & Gamble’s pet health and nutrition division. “They’re very surprised that technology like this is available.”

SoftView works in conjunction with existing X-ray equipment, which Riverain says provides two big advantages. First, it allows radiologists to see images of higher quality without increasing radiation dosages, such as those associated with CT images. Second, because SoftView integrates with existing technology, it’s also cheaper than higher-radiation types of scans.

One high-profile SoftView customer is Dayton’s Kettering Medical Center. The health system’s director of imaging, Merle Peterson, called the software “breakthrough technology” in a statement.

Riverain’s second product, OnGuard, is computer-aided detection technology that identifies areas on a chest X-ray that may be early stage lung cancer.

Hirakawa declined to disclose the 22-employee company’s investors, or how much investment capital Riverain has raised since its 2004 inception. If Riverain continues to add customers as Hirakawa hopes it will, the company would seem ripe for an acquisition by a major imaging firm such as Philips or Siemens.

Hirakawa dismissed such talk, however, saying she prefers to concentrate on building Riverain as a stand-alone company. “We need to grow the business that we have,” she said. “We have so many opportunities in the U.S. and globally.”

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