Thinking About Owning An Imaging Center? Tread Carefully!
Question About Owning An Imaging Center
Hi Barry, I received a call from a group of radiologists looking to sell an imaging center. We are a primary care group of 20 PCP’s. Can you direct me to resources to better understand the current pros and cons of owning an imaging center?
That is an excellent question!
Although I don’t own an imaging center myself, I can tell you some of the general pros and cons of owning one, having worked in many during my working lifetime.
Owning an imaging center is essentially like owning a second business. You will be responsible for a large team of employees. And, you will be critical to managing the property itself, whether it’s rented or owned. Moreover, you will collect the full payments from insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid, and self-payers. Unfortunately, the reimbursements for current procedures continually drop over time, so you have to expect to provide some wiggle room when you purchase buildings and equipment. Be very careful not to overspend.
Furthermore, you need to run an efficient team or know how to find someone to run an efficient team. If not, your competitors down the street will run you out of business. It is not good enough to want to run an imaging center. Instead, you need to know the intricacies of how to run an imaging center. It is never has been and never will be a sure thing. (As many physicians think before owning one!)
And it isn’t straightforward. These skills include knowing how to negotiate with insurance companies, understanding how to get patients on and off the table quickly, when to provide new procedures/modalities, how to get your radiologists to work efficiently, and what furniture offers the best outcomes for patients. Therefore, your team needs to be extremely knowledgeable and experienced. Don’t just go into the process, thinking that you know what you need to do! Most importantly, why do you think you can run a better center than the radiologists that came before you?
That said, there is a reward if you can manage the most efficient/well-run practice in town. If not, I would stay out of the imaging centers’ business because it is very competitive, and the margins are tight.
If you want to find out more about running an imaging center, you can go to the ACR website, and they will provide you information and courses on how to run a practice. While you are there, check out the Radiology Leadership Institute, where they have entire classes on this subject. You might want to consider that as well.
Hope that helps,
Barry Julius, MD