An Open Letter to the ProKnow Community
The Impact of the Elekta Acquisition on Our Products, Services, Philanthropic Studies, and Overall Mission
Hello everyone. By now you may have heard the big news: last week, ProKnow was acquired by Elekta!
Well, of course this catalyzed a whole lot of excitement, questions, and in some cases concerns, among the international community of ProKnow users. In this post, we will address the most common questions and, in doing so, hopefully reassure you that what you have learned to know and appreciate about ProKnow is only going to get better.
So, without further ado, let’s get going with the most common questions!
Why sell to a big vendor?
This is a great question and the perfect place to start. First of all, the interest in our flagship product called ProKnow DS has been ever-accelerating since we received our 510(k) approval in January. This overwhelming interest came from word-of-mouth and a few strategic contacts, because we never hired (nor attempted to hire) anyone for sales and marketing. Instead, we kept busy, busy, busy pouring our efforts behind our core strengths: vision, innovation, design, and execution of building this next-generation software system.
At some point, of course, a startup company reaches a stage where they have to choose how (and how fast) to grow. It was critical to us to have a strong infrastructure to support international regulatory affairs, sales, marketing, and support. If we had tried to build this on our own, it would have taken precious energy and resources. Since we wanted to maintain our pace and keep our focus on building the most modern software system in radiation therapy, we thought that partnering with a well-established vendor might be a great option. As it turns out, Elekta was very interested — they loved the vision and were very impressed with the next-generation technology — so we started talking. The rest is history.
In short, joining the Elekta family is great for ProKnow, as it allows us to keep doing what we do best (innovation and product development) while leveraging the strength of a tried-and-true parent company that can provide the infrastructure we need to support a large base of users in the international market.
My network is about to purchase ProKnow DS for all our sites. Will your software still support all vendors and modalities?
Absolutely, yes! ProKnow DS is and will continue to be completely agnostic when it comes to sources of data. We support all CT and MR imaging devices along with all DICOM-compliant treatment planning systems and delivery modalities, including ion beams and brachytherapy plans. Universal support like this is of paramount importance when you are a cloud-based RT-PACS system providing centralized data archive as well as distributed tasks such as contouring, fusion, plan review, peer review, etc.
As a good example of our efforts to support all imaging and planning vendors, our next release of ProKnow DS adds special tools to support plans from Varian’s Halcyon device. How’s that for cooperation!
And, it goes without saying but we’ll say it anyway: all ProKnow DS customers own 100% of their data and control all access to those data. Your data are your secure assets, and your data will not (and cannot) be mined or accessed outside of the users and permissions that you define.
What about the public plan and contouring studies? Will Elekta still support those or will they be only for Elekta TPS or linac users?
Elekta made it clear to us from the beginning that they absolutely want the philanthropic, worldwide quality studies to continue, and of course support all applicable methods and devices across all vendors.
In fact, Elekta has a goal to establish a vendor-neutral scientific committee to help govern these free, public plan studies going forward. This will help guarantee that (1) the studies’ objectives are pure and of high-interest industry-wide, (2) the scientific designs are robust, and (3) the results are unbiased, transparent, and valuable for all.
So, if you like participating in ProKnow planning and contouring studies, or if your organization uses (or would like to use) ProKnow technology for your big meetings and workshops, then you can plan on a continuation of those studies and services.
Will quality metrics be “biased” in any way to favor Elekta over the many other vendors offering treatment planning and delivery devices?
There will absolutely be no bias or influence.
ProKnow is about “Profound Knowledge,” and knowledge wears no logo and plays no favorites. Truth is what matters, and continual improvement. We at ProKnow were very heartened (and relieved!) to learn that Elekta shares this philosophy and has no desire to limit our quality services based on equipment type, or to influence the experimental designs or results in any way.
What about private plan studies and contouring libraries that we’ve built?
Everything is the same, and there will be no change in the level of support or technology used (other than continuing to improve over time, of course). You still own your private results, you govern your own studies, you control your organization’s members and their privileges, etc.
Whether you’re a subscribing customer or a customer on a research or outreach grant, your ProKnow quality system initiatives will go on, full-speed ahead.
Will this impact the Contouring Accuracy Program?
If you are using a private contouring accuracy library (i.e., your organization is building a library of exercises just for its members), then there is no impact at all.
If you are a ProKnow contouring accuracy subscriber (group or individual), then we believe the library will become much larger and more comprehensive by virtue of Elekta’s connections to so many anatomy experts and teaching institutions around the world.
If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us, or better yet, visit us at ASTRO 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. ProKnow has a dedicated 20’x10’ booth (#2245 on the exhibit hall map). Stop by to say hi or schedule a demo. We would love to see you.