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Intermountain Healthcare is expanding into outpatient imaging with the launch of its new subsidiary Tellica Imaging.
The new spinout will operate stand-alone imaging centers that offer both MRI and CT services.
Intermountain is opening the first three Tellica Imaging centers later this year in Ogden, West Valley City and Orem, Utah. As many as five additional facilities are planned for 2022 with further expansion in subsequent years, according to the announcement.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT?
Intermountain is pitching its new subsidiary as a way to improve patient experience while lowering costs. It says that services provided by Tellica will be offered at “flat-rate prices that fall below the costs in typical hospital-based imaging settings.”
Further, the Salt Lake City-based health system says Tellica will make imaging services more accessible to patients.
“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 MRI imaging services in convenient settings closer to home,” Nannette Berensen, vice president and chief operating officer of Clinical Shared Services at Intermountain and interim chief executive officer of Tellica Imaging, said in a statement.
Payers also seem to prefer outpatient imaging centers over services provided at hospitals, since major insurers like Anthem, Cigna and UnitedHealthcare all have policies to encourage the use of outpatient facilities.
It’s no wonder patients and payers alike go for standalone imaging centers when services rendered at a hospital cost significantly more. The national average of hospital charges for imaging services tends to be two to three times higher than services provided by standalone providers, according to the Healthcare Financial Management Association.
THE LARGER TREND
This announcement follows news that Intermountain is merging with SCL Health. Pending approvals, the combined entity will employ more than 58,000 caregivers, operate 385 clinics across six states and provide health insurance to about one million people.
It also comes on the heels of Intermountain pausing all nonurgent surgeries and procedures requiring hospital admission in its trauma and community hospitals. The move came after a surge in COVID-19 cases that stretched its ICU staff too thin.
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