Nuclear service firm starts cardiac centers

June 19, 1991

Medical Imaging Systems of Chicago, a supplier of nuclear medicineservices to small, mostly rural hospitals, took a major step intothe freestanding imaging center business in April. The firm openedits first center in Boca Raton, FL, which it expects to

Medical Imaging Systems of Chicago, a supplier of nuclear medicineservices to small, mostly rural hospitals, took a major step intothe freestanding imaging center business in April. The firm openedits first center in Boca Raton, FL, which it expects to be thestart of a chain of 60 dedicated nuclear cardiac imaging centers.

MIS snagged volume discounts on Siemens teleradiology and single-photonemission computed tomography equipment in exchange for an exclusivesupply arrangement for the cardiac center business.

"We have formed an alliance with Siemens on the nuclearcardiology center side, partially for financial reasons,"said John C. Thomas, MIS president.

Thomas is one of four general partners in Royal Crest Enterprises,the parent company of MIS. Royal Crest purchased the nuclear imagingservices firm two years ago, Thomas said.

The idea of linking cardiac centers through a communicationsnetwork is a natural extension of the success MIS has had sellingfee-per-scan nuclear medicine services to small hospitals. Thefirm operates in about 65 nuclear medicine departments aroundthe country, providing all resources except the site itself, Thomassaid.

The company negotiates special purchasing deals with radiopharmaceuticalcompanies that are beyond the grasp of smaller hospitals. It hiresits own technologists and engineers, spreading them among severalhospital sites, he said.

MIS also reconditions its own nuclear imaging equipment touse in its hospital facilities, Thomas said.

This turnkey service allows smaller hospitals to maintain nucleardepartments on site, without having to rely on mobile services,he said.

"Our company started out 10 years ago as a turnkey nuclearmedicine company, servicing smaller hospitals that couldn't affordto support and staff a nuclear medicine department on their own,"he said.

Nuclear medicine has been the neglected modality in the freestandingmedical imaging center business. Magnetic resonance imaging, computedtomography and ultrasound are perceived as higher technology modalitieswith greater paybacks and less regulation, Thomas said.

"Even with multimodality centers, nine times out of 10,every other modality but nuclear medicine will be there,"he said.

MIS, however, has found the nuclear field to be lucrative.The firm has had a 450% growth in sales for the last two years,Thomas said.

Although it is a nuclear medicine specialist, MIS is not eagerto jump into the riskier end of the nuclear field by providingpositron emission tomography services.

"PET gets down to actual metabolic activity at the cellularlevel, which is interesting and great for research. It is a stretch,though, to say you can get a lot more out of PET for the moneyinvested," Thomas said.