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Marko Petrović, Director, Visaris

Side By Side With The Best

Visaris is a local company that has been providing digital radiology products and services of the highest quality, safety and reliability for two decades. They have good experience in the world’s largest tenders for the procurement of equipment, because in open competition they occupy a very high place in terms of price and quality

Judging by the views of our guest, their business policy so far has paid off and they believe that the satisfaction will be even greater when they achieve their medium and long-term goals – to make the best X-ray in the world and to be one of the pioneers in the application of artificial intelligence in radiology.

When you started, did you think that you would leave world-famous companies and brands i the dust?

My brother Vladimir, father Slobodan and I, the founders of the company, believed in success from the very beginning. It is hard to say that we have left all the world’s brands behind us, since some of them still dominate the market, but the fact that we are increasingly getting contracts for “high end” equipment in the strongest competition of rich markets shows that we are doing well. Apart from during the pandemic, it is a sufficient indicator for us that we are growing faster than others, especially in the number of licenses that we also sell to other manufacturers and users. Every year, about 400 new medical institutions start using Visaris software for acquisition and processing of digital images.

Since the X-ray has been in use for over a hundred years, the market is mature and thoroughly served. But the digital transformation only started at the end of the 20th century and we are one of the pioneers in that field, so it is not surprising that some of the world’s brands have a shorter experience than Visaris, even though they are older and much better-known companies.

In 2003, we were blown away by Vladimir’s idea of forming a team in Serbia that would make a digital X-ray, and the first such device was installed in Belgrade already in 2004, when there were only about 3,000 of them in the world. At that time we weren’t thinking about the competition, but about the possibilities of the technology on which Vlada got his doctorate. On the other hand, we also had in the team the experience of local experts who built their careers in the famous Jugorendgen.

In addition to our common belief in the idea, Vladimir’s vision (today he is the technical director) and Slobodan, who already had a serious business resume with initial investments, had a decisive influence on our success. More important than the money was the fact that Bob (now the president of the company) had the courage to trust his then young sons and provided them with unreserved support in terms of knowledge, advice and contacts. In such an environment, it was not difficult for me to invest all my resources in Visaris.

Visaris has conquered the world market where there is no protection, rigging and nepotism. Is your success is due to a superior product at a fair price?

You can have all the support and protection you want, but if the product isn’t good, you won’t do anything. Visaris is proof that if you have a high quality and reliable product at a fair price, you will have your audience even without a big sponsor. We have good experience in the world’s largest tenders for the procurement of equipment, because it turns out that in open competition we occupy a very high place in terms of price and quality.

We conquered the technology really quickly, but to conquer the market it is not enough to have only a great offer, it also requires the test of time and recommendations. Fortunately, the first users have already confirmed to us that our products give a top-rate image, which encouraged us to dedicate ourselves to improving the user experience. We started exporting only in 2014, and today our exports to more than 30 countries around the world account for more than 90% of revenues.

What are the advantages of digital cameras and recordings in digital format?

In addition to better resolution on modern medical monitors, digital X-ray images are obtained with lower doses of radiation, can be read at a distance and do not produce harmful waste. A printed recording is valid for five years, while digital recordings are archived permanently. The most modern devices have the possibility of dynamic recording, which literally brings the recording to life in front of the doctor and provides much more information. Perhaps the most important value of digital recordings with a description is their use for machine learning or the popular AI (artificial intelligence).

The application of increasingly powerful devices, computers and algorithms in radiology opens up opportunities for the development of science, disease prevention, and improvement of quality of life

The application of increasingly powerful devices, computers and algorithms in radiology opens up new opportunities for the development of science, disease prevention, and improvement of the quality of life. In the current international scientific project INCISIVE, Visaris and the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi Sad are working with 24 other eminent partners in Europe on the early detection of cancer through the use of artificial intelligence.

Do digital recordings facilitate, for example, obtaining a second independent opinion or conducting a consultation with a doctor located on the other side of the world? It creates a new dimension of treatment?

In the U.S. today, there are already large companies that deal exclusively with reading thousands of radiological images that arrive from hundreds of locations a day. This used to be both unrealistic and impractical due to the need for recordings to be physically available. The agreement on the DICOM format, mandatory for all manufacturers of radiological equipment, has enabled the easy availability of digital images to everyone who has access to the Internet.

Do you have a problem finding staff?

Unfortunately for us is that it is not enough to be a good IT engineer to get into Visaris’ prestigious development team. Since we work in a multidisciplinary environment, additional knowledge of physics, mathematics, electronics or the like is desirable. Due to its complexity and work on advanced technologies, Visaris can challenge the most talented experts, and for them the possibility of training with us acts like a magnet. Other working conditions, although competitive, are usually not the primary issue for most employees. In a team of about 80, development counts 30, of which there are more than 10 people who have been with us between 16 and 19 years. We strive to create an environment in which we transfer and increase knowledge through continuous improvement, which is especially important for young talents.

Is it rare that a private company in Serbia invests so much in its own technology and staff?

Having our own technology is our biggest comparative advantage over the competition, and good solutions do not exist without good people. The field in which we operate is highly specialized and regulated, which means that the number of qualified experts on the market is extremely small, and for practical reasons detailed training and education is an inevitable part of the integration of every employee.

I think that in Serbia there are more and more companies that invest in the same way as us. What we know is that this policy has paid off and we believe that the satisfaction will be even greater when we achieve our medium and long-term goals, which are to make the best X-ray in the world and be one of the pioneers in the application of artificial intelligence in radiology. In four of the 12 countries that have x-ray production, the market is dominated by family businesses, which means that we are not alone in our approach and we expect that our example will encourage others.

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