Aurora CEO sets sites on doubling in 2008

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Olivia Ho Cheng, CEO of Aurora Imaging Technology, said when it comes to developing MRI technology for breast imaging, the company wants to “get the accuracy first; then deal with the cost.” Cheng was on hand last month in Chicago for the 93rd annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) where the privately-held company unveiled its new 3D SpiralRodeo biopsy system for the Aurora 1.5T Dedicated Breast MRI system. She and her staff spoke openly about the growing pains the company has experienced since she took the helm in 1999, and provided a peek into future plans.

One of the unique aspects of Aurora is that they are not only a vendor, but also own 30 imaging centers across the United States, with more expected in 2008. Cheng said this makes them “the best partners in breast cancer solutions.” Steven E. Harms, MD, FACR, radiologist at Aurora’s The Breast Center of Northwest Arkansas and medical director of Aurora, was also present. Harms, lead developer of the new SpiralRodeo technology, demonstrated the system to shoulder-to-shoulder groups. The SpiralRodeo has improved acquisition efficiency (three times greater than traditional 3D Fourier Transform reconstruction) and image resolution, as well as a significant decrease in scan time.

Cheng noted the “extreme accuracy” of the MRI system saying it has “100 percent predictability.” Its 1.5T MRI, valued at $1.5 million, is derived from the company’s “focus on quality,” she said. They’ve gotten to this place with a lot of hard work, Cheng said, and encourages the healthcare community to do the same when looking to solve problems. “When there is a problem, face it directly. Don’t try to circle around to find solutions. The cheap solution will eventually cost more.”

A year ago, Aurora gained approval to sell its MRI system in China, a country with a medical device market of nearly $3.5 million. The company is looking at other countries too, having recently installed a system in Italy. Going forward, Cheng said the goal is to double in 2008 and in 2009 utter those three letters – IPO.