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$12 million more for LifeImage, Newton start-up seeking to make medical images readily accessible

Posted by Scott Kirsner  January 5, 2011 09:00 AM

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Screen shot 2011-01-04 at 9.25.41 PM.pngLifeImage has wrapped up its second round of funding at $12 million, bringing the total the three-year-old company has raised to $17 million.

It's nice to see a company focused on something that's an actual problem in the actual world in which we live: trying to slash the number of unnecessary X-rays, CT scans, and MRI tests done in the U.S. each year. From the patient's perspective, it means being jammed into a narrow tube less often — and being exposed to less radiation. And from an overall healthcare system perspective, our country spends about $30 billion on pointless medical imaging, according to LifeImage founder and CEO Hamid Tabatabaie.

Of that $30 billion, LifeImage is focused primarily on what Tabatabaie believes is $15 billion of exams that are done because a doc doesn't have access to an exam you've already had done. "Let's say you sprain your ankle playing basketball, and you get some imaging done," he says. "Three days later, your ankle is still bothering you, so you go to a different hospital. They do it all over again because they can't easily see the ultrasound or X-ray that you had done the first time around." Hospitals, doctors, and even individual patients can use LifeImage's Web site to get access to medical images — securely and with permission, of course. An image of a CT scan, Tabatabaie says, can be bigger than a gigabyte. (Last November, the company announced a partnership with Microsoft HealthVault to help a doctor share images with a patient who might want to get a second opinion, for instance.)

The business model is to eventually charge $1 per exam to make the image available to anyone who needs it, Tabatabaie explains. "There are about a billion imaging exams done each year, so that's a billion-dollar business for us" — though he believes the company will save the healthcare system far more.

The company, Tabatabaie's fourth start-up, has 42 employees. Already, around Boston, hospitals like MassGeneral, the Lahey Clinic, Tufts Medical Center, and Children's Hospital Boston are using LifeImage's software.

Leading the company's latest round of funding are Cardinal Partners of New Jersey and Galen Partners, in Stamford, Connecticut.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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