Swedish radiation therapy equipment company Elekta has acquired Sanford, Florida-based company ProKnow to gain its treatment planning and data analytics capabilities, per an announcement Thursday.
ProKnow sells cloud-based software for collecting and analyzing data to support ongoing improvement of anatomy contouring and treatment plans.
Elekta says ProKnow’s capabilities are of particular value to its large customers, potentially giving it an edge as it competes with rivals such as Varian Medical Systems for key accounts.
Elekta worked with ProKnow prior to the acquisition. According to ProKnow’s partnership webpage, Elekta integrated its Private Plan Studies into training classes for treatment planning. Elekta is the only vendor listed among ProKnow’s partners.
Now the companies are further tightening their ties. Elekta has bought ProKnow for an undisclosed sum to enable it to offer treatment planning analytics to its customers. The takeover is part of a broader attempt by Elekta to use digital capabilities as a differentiator in the market for radiotherapy equipment.
"This strategic acquisition supports our Elekta Digital initiative and will contribute to accelerating our big data and artificial intelligence efforts as we help healthcare providers to improve decision support, identify best practices and ensure a high quality of care," Elekta CEO Richard Hausmann said in a statement.
The digital initiative Hausmann referenced is a key part of Elekta’s strategy. Elekta cited investments in the initiative as one of three drivers of a 20.8% jump in its operating expenses last year. The uptick in spending reflects a belief that big data and AI can improve outcomes by personalizing treatment.
Operating expenses continued to rise in the first quarter, ticking up 7% on a constant currency basis, but the additional outlay was more than offset by increased sales. Elekta posted double-digit growth in Europe and Asia Pacific, although flat sales in the Americas meant total revenue came in up 9% on a constant currency basis.
Elekta’s chief rival for the radiotherapy market, Varian, is also stepping up its digital activities. Varian is developing an AI-enabled suite to make it easier for clinics to offer adaptive radiotherapy to every patient. Talking to investors last month, Varian CEO Dow Wilson framed the $284 million takeover of Cancer Treatment Services International as partly a way to access more data to support AI initiatives.