Intermountain Healthcare has launched Tellica Imaging, a subsidiary company that will open stand-alone outpatient imaging centers.
Equipped to provide noninvasive MR and CT imaging, the centers will be located at three Utah locations in Ogden, West Valley City and Orem, starting in late 2021. An additional five will be set up in 2022, with more to come in the following years. Costs for both services at Tellica locations will be flat-rate and below those of hospital-based imaging.
“While hospital-based imaging services remain an important part of the care process, particularly in emergency situations and when complex imaging services are needed, many patients prefer to access CT scan and MR imaging services in convenient settings closer to home,” said Nannette Berensen, vice president and chief operating officer of clinical shared services at Intermountain.
The company plans to hire approximately 20 employees to manage all three centers. Berensen will serve as the chair of the board and interim chief executive officer of Tellica Imaging, while Brad Isaacson, who joined Intermountain in 2015, will be its chief operating officer. Dr. Douglas Greally, who has served as associate medical director of imaging operations at Intermountain since 2018, will be the company’s chief medical officer.
The launch of Tellica Imaging may especially be beneficial for patients insured by UnitedHealthGroup, Anthem and Cigna, all of which are among insurance providers who have stopped covering MR and CT scans in hospital settings over the last few years and instead encourage patients to seek care at lower-cost stand-alone facilities, according to Modern Healthcare
. Following “thoughtful” discussions with radiologists and radiology groups like ACR and SPR, Anthem recently adjusted this policy
back in August by agreeing to cover children under 19 for imaging in hospitals.
In addition, the cost of routine diagnostic imaging tests was 165% higher in hospital outpatient settings than at stand-alone imaging centers, according to a 2019 report by UnitedHealthGroup, reported Modern Healthcare.
Intermountain consists of 25 hospitals, 225 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,600 physicians, advanced practice clinicians and an insurance company called SelectHealth. It performs healthcare services in Utah, Idaho and Nevada. It soon, however, will span six states following a planned merger with SCL Health
into a 33-hospital, $14 billion healthcare system. The two announced the news earlier this month. The deal is expected to be finalized and signed at the end of 2021 and be completed in early 2022.