LEXINGTON According to a published report in Radiology Business Journal (August 2013), from 2003 to 2011, “the outpatient imaging center market exhibited consistent year-over-year increases in the number of centers” operating, likely due to the rapid expansion of imaging utilization.
Seeing an opportunity for patient growth in a niche market, KentuckyOne Health, which operates Saint Joseph facilities across Central Kentucky and has opened the first and “the only hospital-owned Independent Diagnostic Testing Facilities in the state,” according to Director, Adam Gossom, RT (R), (ARRT). These Saint Joseph Outpatient Care Centers are located in Richmond, KY and off Tates Creek Rd in south Lexington.
As Director of Ambulatory Imaging Operations for Central and Eastern Kentucky, Gossom believes that patient comfort, convenience, and an overall exceptional patient experience will be the key factors in his centers’ success. The challenge, says Gossom is assuring both patients and referring physicians that imaging in a retail environment is comparable to the hospital based results, without the difficulties inherent in a visit to a hospital, such as distance from home, unfamiliar setting and difficult parking.
One strong advantage is the Saint Joseph brand name in Central Kentucky. “Being connected to Saint Joseph and having the images read by the same board certified radiologists as in our hospitals, has helped,” says Gossom.
Comfort, Perks, and State-of-the-Art Imaging
To enhance the patient experience Gossom says his team focuses on comfort and care while giving patients “the best radiology experience they’ve ever had. We offer our patients a relaxed, spa-like atmosphere with private dressing rooms, heated spa robes, spa music, dark chocolates, a calming décor, and easy, accessible parking in front of the facility.”
Imaging services offered at the south Lexington location include digital screening mammography, ultrasound (general, OB, and vascular), bone density screening that accommodates up to a 450-lb weight limit (as opposed to a 300 lb limit), a Siemens Luminous Agile x-ray, plus fluoroscopy for lower and upper GI. This is the latest technology from Siemens, and unlike other tables, it accommodates over 600 lbs and is height adjustable. “This technology is fantastic and is completely digital,” says Gossom. CT scan is also available with dose reduction software. “People are becoming more and more aware of radiation doses, so I felt that this technology was important to offer our patients,” says Gossom.
Cost Saving for Patients
As the Affordable Care Act comes into play, January 2014 and an estimated 400K+ new patients are added to Medicaid in Kentucky, an influx of patient visits to all imaging centers is expected. Additionally, previously uninsured individuals will now participate in the Kentucky Insurance Exchange with a variety of deductibles.
Being an Independent Diagnostic Testing Facility, we can provide more affordable care to our patients and their payers. We offer the same high quality services that you would receive in a hospital but we are able to charge less than hospital rates and be easily accessible and close to home for our patients, says Gossom.
THE CHALLENGE IS ASSURING BOTH PATIENTS AND REFERRING PHYSICIANS THAT IMAGING IN A RETAIL ENVIRONMENT IS COMPARABLE TO THE HOSPITAL BASED RESULTS.