Florida imaging providers zero in on managed care

September 8, 1993

Recent developments in the Florida imaging center market couldprovide a blueprint for imaging companies seeking ways to prosperin the face of managed care. While Florida imaging services providersare taking different tacks, all are trying to profit from

Recent developments in the Florida imaging center market couldprovide a blueprint for imaging companies seeking ways to prosperin the face of managed care. While Florida imaging services providersare taking different tacks, all are trying to profit from thestate's new managed-care system.

The Florida system calls for the organization of health-careproviders, hospitals and insurers into accountable health partnerships,or AHPs. AHPs will contract with community health purchasing alliances,which represent small business employees, Medicare recipientsand the uninsured. The plan takes effect in January.

MediTek Health of Tampa, FL, plans to pursue hospital affiliationsas a means of securing the patient referrals brought by hospitals'managed-care business, according to president Paul M. Stanley.MediTek is a subsidiary of Florida aerospace firm Heico (SCAN6/17/92).

The company recently purchased Buffalo Diagnostic Center, aCT and general x-ray facility in Tampa, FL. Meditek plans to addMRI to the center and will purchase an Otsuka 1.5-tesla scannerin order to win the cachet of high-field MRI without the highcost, Stanley said.

"We wanted to have the ability from a marketing perspectiveto offer high field," Stanley said. "We're looking ata product (the Otsuka OE 1.5 SI) that costs $1 million, as opposedto something that would be in excess of $1.8 million. When youlook at the difference in the service costs, around $100,000 ayear versus $150,000, it's just simple economics."

Among Florida's health-care reforms is a stringent physicianself-referral ban, passed last year (SCAN 4/8/92). The state Legislaturerecently moved the divestiture date for self-referring physiciansfrom October 1995 to October 1994. Coupled with the passage thisAugust of a federal ban on self-referral for Medicare and Medicaidpatients (SCAN 8/25/93), Florida physicians have a strong incentiveto divest. MediTek plans to take advantage of the situation.

"It will help our plan for new center development on hospitalcampuses," Stanley said. "Now that physicians will nothave any incentive to send to their own centers, a lot of thebusiness will return to the traditional landmarks such as hospital-basedoutpatient services."

ASSUMING A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT COURSE in the state is Medical Resources,which purchased Gulf Coast Imaging in Naples in June. The Clifton,NJ, company is not as set on securing hospital affiliations butis planning for an environment of high volume at low reimbursementlevels, according to president Ernest J. DeSalvo, president andCEO.

One way to achieve that goal is by purchasing only the mostadvanced scanners available. The company has historically purchasedSigna scanners from GE and will stick with the vendor for theforeseeable future.

"We can get very good prices from GE," DeSalvo said."A capital cost (difference) of $300,000 amortized over sevenyears will not make a big difference. When a hospital has a choiceof sending to a GE or an Otsuka, they'll send to the GE."

DeSalvo also sees a shakeout coming in the Florida MRI marketas many centers with older magnets go out of business.

"There is a lot of garbage technology out there,"DeSalvo said. "Many magnets will fade away because no onewill want to buy them. Companies like ours will buy two or threemagnets and shut them down."

Medical Resources does not plan to let the federal self-referrallaw's stringent requirements on trading public stock for physicianequity hold it back from buying out physician investors. Accordingto the law, providers who own stock in public companies may referto those companies only if the firm has stockholders' equity inexcess of $75 million.

Medical Resources does not currently meet the $75 million threshold.The company plans to use stock in acquisitions anyway and guaranteedivesting physicians liquidity if the firm does not meet federalguidelines by the January 1995 divestiture date.