February 2013

Strength in Numbers
By Jim Knaub
Radiology Today
Vol. 14 No. 2 P. 3

When describing the modern radiology practice, I’d suggest a broad definition encompassing every type of organization that furnishes final interpretations—because any of them may become your competitor, if they are not already.

In conjunction with their annual list of the 100 largest physician-owned radiology groups (by physician FTEs) this past November, the good folks at Radiology Business Journal published a second list containing the the eight largest practices of all types. Four of the practices on that new list—Radiology Associates of North Texas, Advanced Radiology Services, Radia Medical Imaging, and Charlotte Radiology in North Carolina—are physician-owned private practices. Brigham and Women’s Radiology and Massachusetts General Radiology are academic practices. Virtual Radiologic and Radisphere are privately held, with each including some level of venture capital investment.

Of the three largest groups on the list, respectively, Virtual Radiologic is held by a private equity firm; Radiology Associates of North Texas is wholly physician owned; and Brigham and Women’s is an academic practice that is part of Partners Healthcare. Three very different structures among the three largest practices pretty much sums up why I think it’s smart to think in terms of a broad definition of radiology practice.

Both radiologists competing with these different kinds of groups and hospitals that contract with groups for imaging interpretation need to recognize there are different types of practices in the changing imaging environment. Which practice model will prove best? That would be a terrific thing to know—but we don’t. And who’s to say one will prove best? I tend to think that the people implementing the corporate structure are more important than the corporate structure.

Generally, I’d focus on the size when describing the modern practice. It’s seems clear that economic security—not to be confused with complacency—is an important component of success and seems linked to building a practice of a certain size.

Enjoy the issue.