Medical Imaging of Fredericksburg: High in Value, Low in Average Costs

In 2016, Newsletter, Volume 8 Issue 4 by Addison Clark

Medical Imaging of Fredericksburg (MIF) facilities are the region’s high-value providers of medical imaging tests based on three key measures: customer satisfaction, clinical quality, and average costs, reported Ed Swager, CEO of Radiologic Associates of Fredericksburg (RAF).

RAF and Mary Washington Healthcare are partners in the four centers, which include Medical Imaging of Fredericksburg, the Imaging Center for Women, Medical Imaging at Lee’s Hill in Spotsylvania, and Medical Imaging of North Stafford.

Swager explained that average costs, customer satisfaction, and the clinical quality of physicians, staff, and technology are three components that help define a healthcare facility’s “value transparency” for patients, as well as physicians who order their tests. MIF uses surveys, independent industry data, and additional criteria to measure value.

Lower Average Costs

A patient’s out-of-pocket cost depends on the specific imaging test ordered, the insurance plan used, and the patient’s deductible, among other factors. However, MIF has used independent industry data to gain a general sense of how its charges compare.

“On average, MIF is a lower-cost provider of medical imaging in the region,” Swager said. “This is significant, recognizing our high quality and satisfaction.”

Comparing its payments to data available from comparative resources such as Healthcare Bluebook, MIF is on average 27% less expensive than other imaging facilities in the area. Drilling down to some specific examples, a mammogram screening on average is 33% less expensive, and an MRI brain scan with and without contrast is 22% lower at MIF. Practice Administrator Chris Snyder said this is one reason why the facilities are attracting patients from areas outside of Fredericksburg, such as Richmond and Northern Virginia.

Unlike some centers, MIF also offers a single bill combining facility and physician charges, as well as convenient payment plans. Patients who would like information on tests their doctors have ordered can call (540) 741-XRAY (9729) for more information if they have the name of the specific test and their insurance card handy.

High Customer Satisfaction

After testing, each patient at the four facilities receives a customer survey. The combined results quarter to quarter are outstanding.

“Our patient satisfaction rating is consistently in the 95th percentile, among the highest in the nation,” Snyder explained.

The centers’ patient satisfaction scores have generated industry recognition over the years, including a 2015 Guardian of Excellence Award from Press Ganey for Medical Imaging at Lee’s Hill and Imaging Center for Women. As a bonus, staff surveyed at the centers also report an overall high rate of satisfaction with their jobs.

Major factors fueling these marks include the quality of the facilities, physicians, and staff, but other considerations matter, too.Snyder said the centers, for example, offer early morning, evening, and weekend hours to accommodate busy schedules.

High Clinical Quality

Clinical quality refers to each facility’s technology, capabilities, and people. The credentials of the radiologists who interpret tests and supervise imaging studies at the centers are critical for achieving high clinical quality.

“Our radiologists are board certified and fellowship trained at the top programs in the country,” RAF CEO Swager noted. “We have radiologists trained in all the major subspecialties of radiology, with on-site radiologists available 24/7 for patient cases.”

The training and experience of technicians and support staff at the centers are equally critical in obtaining high- quality medical images, he added. Among the many credentials earned by the centers is recognition as an American College of Radiology (ACR) Designated Lung Cancer

Screening Center, ACR Breast Imaging Center of Excellence, ACR accreditation for magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, breast ultrasound, ultrasound, stereotactic breast biopsy, and nuclear medicine, and international accreditation through the National Heart Health Program. Honors have included being named one of the Best Radiology Facilities in the US by Imaging Economics.

MIF centers also offer advanced, proven technology, Swager said.

Ed Swager

One of many examples is breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3D mammography, which is available at the Imaging Center for Women. This procedure improves breast cancer detection rates and reduces the need for patients to return for repeat mammograms. RAF and Mary Washington Healthcare studied 3D mammography when it first emerged as an option and introduced the technology to the area once it was proven safe and effective for patients.

Chris Snyder