The growing threat of consolidation in Texas: Texas Radiology Associates Case Study

09 February 2020 - Collaborative Imaging
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Problem: Texas Radiology Associates desired to strengthen its position as an independent radiology practice against bigger, consolidated competitors.

Solution: Collaborative Imaging provides a sustainable business model to ensure an independent practice’s continued success by providing capital, disruptive technology, innovative processes and economies of scale to maintain autonomy while maximizing profitability.

Results: By partnering with Collaborative Imaging, Texas Radiology Associates was able to maintain its independence while improving patient care, physician workflow and practice efficiency.

The growing threat of radiologist consolidation in Texas.

Since 1972, Texas Radiology Associates has kept its partners and patients at the forefront of all business objectives in order to provide quality care to the North Texas community. Working cohesively with 34 hospitals and 34 clinics, Texas Radiology Associates has provided the highest level of radiology service for the communities it serves.

Over the past decade, independent radiology practices, such as Texas Radiology Associates, have faced tremendous pressures that have drastically changed the industry. These pressures include changing reimbursement models, hospital consolidation, increasing demand for services and coverage by health systems, advancing technology and more.

As a result, independent practices are being forced to make significant investments if they are to continue to exist. However, many do not have the necessary resources or capital and feel forced to relinquish control to private-equity backed consolidators. These private equity groups then use their business acumen to increase profits without returning any to physicians.

What’s more, consolidation has forced an uptick in practice sizes while decreasing the number of distinct practices that offer specialty services. In fact, according to a recent study published by the Journal of the American College of Radiology, there has been a drop of 21% of single-specialty practices since 2014. Larger practices can create a lack of competition and can make patient care more expensive by charging higher prices while culling the patient experience.

One state that has felt the effects of consolidation is Texas. With almost 95% of independent practices in Houston consolidated under larger groups, it was becoming nearly impossible to avoid relinquishing control to bigger, stronger private firms.

To maintain independence, Texas Radiology Associates knew immediate action needed to be taken to combat these challenges that were plaguing the industry, and ask themselves: “How can we strengthen our position and afford everything that is necessary to provide quality healthcare services?”

Collaborative Imaging breathes new life into independent radiology practices.

Texas Radiology Associates looked toward Collaborative Imaging as a solution. The organization provides a sustainable business model, including the following strategic advantages, to combat the root causes as to why an independent practice would sell to a consolidator:

  • Revenue Cycle Enhancement. Texas Radiology Associates has benefited from new solutions to improve revenue cycle enhancement, which helps identify and capitalize on significant revenue opportunities in outsourced / in-house billing services. As a result, Texas Radiology Associates was able to improve and streamline billing to maximize revenue collections.
  • Workflow Solutions. Texas Radiology Associates has access to cutting-edge workflow solutions to eliminate process inefficiencies. This includes facilitating physician workflow and productivity, identifying medical coding errors, delivering interpretations in shorter turnaround times, and improving patient care.
  • Back Office Functions. Texas Radiology Associates has access to solutions that improve back-office functions. This included new processes that streamline real-time scheduling of patients at imaging centers and outpatient partners, as well as streamline credentialing for its radiologists.
  • Cutting-edge Technology. Texas Radiology Associates has access to technology and solutions such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, voice recognition tools and more. With this technology, the practice can operate more effectively and improve quality while reducing costs.
  • Capital Support. If Texas Radiology Associates needs to invest in new technology, replacing platforms or other capital intensive projects, Collaborative Imaging is able to offset or share costs, as well as garner funding if needed. This maximizes the practice’s value and helps maintain a competitive advantage alongside nationwide companies.
  • Coverage Support. As a Collaborative Imaging partner, Texas Radiology Associates is able to provide 24/7 in-house teleradiology coverage for preliminary or final reads, as well as 24/7 in-house sub-specialty reads.

Improved access and value for referring physicians, hospitals and imaging centers.

By partnering with Collaborative Imaging, Texas Radiology Associates has maintained its independence while reducing operation costs, increasing productivity, expanding its practice footprint and providing increased quality in patient care.

In the first year with Collaborative Imaging, Texas Radiology Associates has increased daytime productivity by at least 14%, with this improvement continuing to trend upwards. The practice has also sustained revenue growth by 25% while reducing operational costs by 30%. Additionally, by having access to quality metrics for accurate interpretation reads, Texas Radiology Associates can ensure accurate turnaround times as quick as eight minutes, despite the industry average of 30 minutes.

“I got into the field of radiology to provide quality care to patients, and with the new support of Collaborative Imaging, I feel I am better equipped to accomplish that goal,” said Dr. Lori Sedrak, a radiologist for Texas Radiology Associates.

With its continued success by partnering with Collaborative Imaging, Texas Radiology Associates has also been able to maintain its compliance with the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JHACO), enhance report turnaround times, conduct thorough peer reviews, have access to trackable critical results reporting and more.

“Our work with Collaborative Imaging has reignited a new joy in practicing medicine and unleashed a new chapter of prosperity for our practice,” said Dr. Ted Wen, managing partner at Texas Radiologist Associates. “Even with the support of Collaborative Imaging, we are still Texas Radiology Associates. We are still independent. But now, we have better tools, better equipment and better support to remain competitive.”