Medical Advisory Systems being acquired by Fla. firm

Information provider to join unit of maker of wrist-worn monitor

November 02, 2001|By M. William Salganik | M. William Salganik,SUN STAFF

Medical Advisory Systems (MAS), a Southern Maryland company that provides medical information by phone and the Internet, is being acquired by a company that makes a monitoring device that can be worn on the wrist and beam medical and other information by satellite.

Applied Digital Solutions Inc. of Palm Beach, Fla., announced yesterday that its Digital Angel subsidiary will acquire 82 percent of MAS. Randolph K. Geissler, chief executive officer of Digital Angel, will be chief executive of the combined company, and will work from Digital Angel's headquarters in South St. Paul, Minn.

MAS will continue to operate in Owings, in Calvert County, with current management and its 32 current employees, said Scott Rowan, MAS operations manager. Richard I. Sullivan, chairman and CEO of Applied Digital Solutions, said he not only expects to maintain employment at MAS, but also to see a "dramatic" increase as the Digital Angel product grows.

Digital Angel, Sullivan said, will be launched later this month in the Florida market. It is a small device that keeps track of its wearer and can beam signals that will summon help in the event of problems, ranging from medical emergency (the device will track vital signs such as pulse rate) to a flat tire in a remote area.

In that case, the Digital Angel service center can contact a relative or a doctor or a tow truck, by phone, by email or by sending a message to a palm-held digital assistant. Sullivan said the plan costs $24 a month for basic service, and $54 monthly for a premium service that includes 24-hour communication with MAS' doctors. "The products and services of Medical Advisory are strategically important to Digital Angel," Sullivan said.

MAS began more than 20 years ago with a 24-hour service allowing ships at sea to receive medical advice. Over the past few years, it has experimented with other ways of marketing its services, such as online medical information.

Rowan said the maritime work has been "somewhat stagnant" and volumes had declined substantially in the online advice, so the tie-in with Digital Angel was an opportunity to "build from our core."

Digital Angel bought a 16.6 percent interest in MAS in February.

Terms of the latest deal were not disclosed. If the acquisition is approved by MAS shareholders and lenders, MAS would no longer exist as a separate company and Digital Angel Corp. would apply to be listed on the Nasdaq stock market.

MAS' shares gained 75 cents to $4.50 yesterday, and Applied Digital Solutions' shares gained a nickel to 50 cents.

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