This is the fourth in a series of CEO short interviews about their views on their company, the digital pathology market, lessons learned and perhaps a little insight into their business principles. My personal thanks to Ms. Shiposh and the ASI’s team for their time and efforts to complete this interview and provide some insights into their company’s vision, lessons learned and personal insights of their CEO!
What are the unique features of ASI’s offering in pathology?
It is all about offering innovative technologies that achieve improved image quality, drive greater workflow efficiencies, save time and cut operational costs.
Our platforms, combining FISH imaging and brightfield digital pathology on a single platform, offer a unique end-to-end flow for analyzing tissue samples, starting from the H&E or IHC slide through FISH capture, review and analysis. Our Tissue Match ensures that the precise location is analyzed with FISH. This improves confidence and accuracy in the FISH results and reduces costs.
I think the focus should be on clinically-fitting open solutions that integrate seamlessly into any laboratory’s workflow. This is key from a compliance and standardization perspective. Our GenASIs HiPath is compatible with a wide range of laboratories’ existing microscopes, so no additional costs are incurred.
Users should be allowed to independently and easily add and edit any probe definition, and optimize the cell detection and segmentation, without delaying the process by chasing after their vendors for assistance.
We all need to ensure that clinical laboratories have confidence in the diagnostic results. We worked hard to develop unique signal and cell detection algorithms that accurately segment and classify cells. Confidence is further achieved through the use of our highly-sensitive camera, which detects the faintest signals which prove to provide a challenge to the human eye review.
What challenges remain for digital pathology adoption?
First and foremost, with digital pathology now entering clinical laboratories, the regulatory barriers surrounding the use of whole-slide-imaging become more relevant. This is why we are now uniquely positioned to offer a pathology platform which is FDA 510(k) cleared for the entire IHC family for breast cancer panel (HER2, ER, PR and Ki67).
It all comes down to three key fundamentals: image analysis accuracy, improved workflow efficiencies and cost effectiveness.
Patient care cannot afford the position adopted by many whole-slide-imaging companies, that image analysis is simply a “nice-to-have” capability. Image analysis plays a key role in generating accurate diagnostic data. This is why we have developed our own algorithms that provide a cell by cell segmented analysis, resulting in the highest rate of accurate cell segmentation and a fast and efficient review with little need for classification adjustment.
Our review tools are easy to use and provide all functions needed in order to analyze the slide and sign out the case. With respect to FISH, our platforms analyze any sample type and any probe, and allow the user to re-analyze the slide while implementing different analysis parameters. By avoiding the need to re-probe and re-scan the slide (and avoiding the costs associated therewith), we increase the time efficiencies and reach higher profitability, while ensuring faster analysis.
By offering customers our GenASIs AnyWhere solution, we support the TC/PC flow by allowing the professional component to benefit from all of case analysis capabilities while being remote from the technical environment, and even when working from home.
It is important to remember that we are living in an IT-driven world. There is more attention being paid in laboratories to adopting solutions that easily integrate with the existing IT infrastructure and network. For many laboratories, changing the entire IT infrastructure to support the mega data generated by the whole-slide-imaging systems is simply not an option. Our solution not only offers full integration and connectivity with the laboratory’s microscopes, but it also utilizes very modest data storage which does not require such large IT investment in storage.
What makes you excited about the partnership with Agilent?
The market, our customers and everybody I talk to, have been waiting for a long time to have a one-stop shopping experience, delivering value through Agilent’s portfolio of FISH reagents and instruments with ASI’s imaging solutions.
We’re really excited about having the opportunity to increase our possibilities by partnering with a company offering the quality of products that Agilent has, with their exceptional reputation and market power.
I think laboratories want to be offered greater choice and reach decisions based on high-level quality, workflow efficiencies, accurate results and range of costs. Our organizations will offer the best of both worlds – from reagents through scanning, analysis and reporting.
How would you describe the culture in your company?
Caring about our loyal customers and our people, while working as a team, are what make ASI unique.
We have been a provider of image analysis platforms for close to 25 year. The environment here is very important to us. Each day we all have a chance to create an ASI family environment. Open exchange of opinions and creativity are always encouraged, as they facilitate personal and professional growth.
I believe that our talented team understands that their work and contribution make a difference in the lives of patients and families worldwide. We are all given the unique privilege to develop innovative technologies that will enhance the quality of diagnostics and research.
There is simply no limit to what can be achieved with our highly-skilled employees and distribution partners.
How do you build a strong team?
We have worked hard to build a team that engages everyone in our activities and success. The key is to inspire teamwork and close partnership between all employees at all levels. Individually, we grow as we learn from each other’s talents and strengths.
We all understand that our objective is that the future leaders of ASI will be recruited entirely from within.
What one question do you ask everyone you interview?
What is the thing that customers value most in a vendor? There’s no one right answer. Whether it’s for development roles or customer-facing positions, I am always looking for talented individuals who understand how to cultivate long-term partnerships.
What is your tip to retaining customers?
Offering laboratories of all sizes superior technology and exceptional service through our team of professionals, is a top priority for us. We all have an ongoing commitment to our customers.
Part of looking at ourselves as ‘trusted advisors’ for our customers, is understanding that this is a full partnership. It requires us to develop a joint long-term vision, which extended beyond the common supplier-customer relationship.
No one needs to chase after us once a sale is complete – we will proactively make it our business to understand and meet our customers’ specific needs. Listening helps us develop new capabilities and involve our customers in our product roadmap and projects.
What sets your business apart from the competition?
Our technology and support set us apart.
With respect to technology, we offer more depth in functionality, ease of setup and ease of use.
Today, we have the best-in-the-market and most reliable FISH scanner. It scans and analyzes any sample type and any probe regardless of the slide quality. As more Tissue FISH cases are scanned and analyzed and Tissue FISH data constitutes the standard for many tests to which pathologists refer, the need for accurate florescence scanning and analysis is growing. Current whole-slide scanners cannot effectively answer this need.
Moreover, having our proprietary HyperSepctral technology will serve in extracting maximum information from a single tissue sample. Such information is not only hidden to the eye but also which RGB imaging systems cannot identify and analyze effectively.
But the key to our business and the true difference-maker in succeeding in a competitive landscape, is not only our products but also our relationships with our customers. I think a large part of our growth and success has been a result of building really strong long-term partnerships with our customers and other key opinion leaders who work with our systems.
Larger companies tend to overlook the specific clinical needs of customers. We see that many companies often lose sight of how important it is to provide post-sale support. Our talented team, together with our investment in innovation, allow us to focus on offering clinically-fitting solutions, which, alongside our high-level support, improve efficiencies and reduce costs in all stages of the laboratory’s workflow.
How many messages are in your inbox right now?
Twenty four (in good days). I work very hard to keep my inbox organized in a very specific way. This does not mean I easily find every email I am looking for.
What do you hope to accomplish within the next year?
I’m excited about continuing to strengthen and grow our operations. First, by introducing to the market newer technologies that cover the end-to-end Pathology workflow.
Second, by growing our footprint in pathology. We plan to reach more pathology, cytogenetic and research institutes who are looking to improve care and efficiencies at a lower cost.
Third, by continuing to expand geographically and accelerate growth in markets throughout Europe and Asia. This will be achieved by working with local partners to ensure that local customers’ demand for world-class imaging equipment is met cost-effectively.
Forth, by delivering exceptional service to create and strengthen sustainable relationships with our customers.
And most importantly, by continuing to offer quality image analysis solutions that improve patient care and enhance the quality of life.
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