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Something to consider. How will cost affect quality when it comes to Radiology?

As a healthcare administrator with over 20 years of experience, I am often asked if it matters where a person obtains their diagnostic care.   A diagnostic exam is any approach used to gather clinical information for the purpose of making a clinical decision (i.e. diagnosis). Some examples of diagnostic exams include MRI, X-ray, CT, PET/CT, ultrasound, mammograms, biopsies etc.  It is critically important where one obtains their diagnostic exams as the results of those exams will guide their primary care and/or specialists in developing a treatment plan for them.  Therefore, it is important that providers and their patients choose wisely as to whom they partner with for diagnostic services and, with prudence, choose a provider of diagnostic services that demonstrates a commitment to quality and access with a focus on cost containment.

  • As a healthcare administrator with over 20 years of experience, I am often asked if it matters where a person obtains their diagnostic care. A diagnostic exam is any approach used to gather clinical information for the purpose of making a clinical decision (i.e. diagnosis). Some examples of diagnostic exams include MRI, X-ray, CT, PET/CT, ultrasound, mammograms, biopsies etc. It is critically important where one obtains their diagnostic exams as the results of those exams will guide their primary care and/or specialists in developing a treatment plan for them. Therefore, it is important that providers and their patients choose wisely as to whom they partner with for diagnostic services and, with prudence, choose a provider of diagnostic services that demonstrates a commitment to quality and access with a focus on cost containment. The characteristics to keep in mind when choosing a quality diagnostic are the radiologists, the quality of the equipment utilized to acquire images, the technologists who operate the equipment, and the overall environment in which the service is provided. Imaging Associates is managed by the largest radiology group in the State of Alaska (AK Radiology Associates) who are the only ones to provide full subspecialty radiology support. This means your study will be read by a fellowship-trained radiologist who specializes in musculoskeletal, neuro, breast etc. - the field particular to your specific imaging need. Imaging Associates is the leader in Alaska, introducing new subspecialized diagnostic exams that provide specialists in our community the information they need to more accurately detect and successfully treat disease and abnormalities. We have the most advanced CT, PET/CT, MRI, and mammography imaging equipment in Alaska. All of our technologists that operate the equipment are fully-certified and our sites located in both Anchorage and Palmer are accredited by the American College of Radiology. Imaging Associates established the first and only Breast Imaging Center of Excellence (BICOE) in the Mat-Su Valley, the newest in Anchorage and we are the only BICOE to offer all breast imaging services in one location. Through Alaska Radiology Associates, we leverage local radiologists who are fellowship-trained in breast and women’s imaging to provide uninterrupted access to subspecialty coverage. The synergistic effect of our state-of-the-art equipment, highly -trained technologists, and superb subspecialized radiologists makes Imaging Associates best-in-class in women’s imaging. BICOE is a designation given by the American College of Radiology to those sites who meet stringent image quality and subspecialty criteria. BICOEs are associated with a 40% better cancer detection rate and 15% less call backs than those who do not have a BICOE designation. Imaging Associates has enhanced their BICOE services by adding a Breast Care Coordination Program! This new program utilizes the skills of Advanced Nurse Practitioners to deploy the Tyrer-Cuzick risk assessment model, genetic testing & counseling, and will offer physicians in our community enhanced assistance in coordinating timely access to high quality breast imaging services. At Imaging Associates, we are focused on going above and beyond to assist our patients in navigating the breast oncology continuum of care. While Imaging Associates invests heavily in quality radiologists, staff, and equipment, we are conscious of our role in cost containment. Our rates average 30% LESS than hospital-based imaging centers and we do NOT balance-bill. We are a preferred provider with all commercial insurance entities and we do accept Medicare and Medicaid. We offer a 60% discount for those patients who have no commercial insurance coverage and are willing to pay in full at the time of service. We also do more than inform our patients of their charges! Our partnership with Experian allows us to clarify what insurance plan our patients have, what – if any - remains of their deductible, and what their share of cost will be with extreme accuracy. Timely access is also very important for our referring physicians and our shared patients. We offer same-day and next-day appointments for all modalities, including MRI, CT, ultrasound and mammography screening. While Imaging Associates remains focused on providing their referring physicians and shared patients continued best-in-class diagnostic services, we also lend a hand to our beautiful communities. We are proud to partner with Alaska Run For Women and Alaska Men’s Run to raise awareness and money to find a cure for breast and prostate cancer. Imaging Associates also partners with Anchorage Project Access to provide timely access to subspecialized radiology for those in our community who do not have healthcare coverage (i.e. those without Medicare, Medicaid or commercial insurance). In totality, Imaging Associates realizes about $1.2 million dollars annually in uncompensated care and in donations to our community partners. I appreciate the opportunity to share with you what characteristics you should be looking for when seeking quality diagnostic exams. We at Imaging Associates considers what we offer to be truly best-in-class, we remind you that where you go is your choice and we ask that you choose wisely.
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