Lemak Health runs up the score

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 - Matthew Lemak
Matthew Lemak

As CEO of a growing, multifaceted business enterprise, Matthew Lemak delegates many operating-budget decisions to the people who have the most to gain—or lose—from their choices. On capital budgeting, he is considerably more hands-on.

This dynamic played out in 2014, when three key direct reports in the Lemak Group’s healthcare division—Lemak Health’s head of radiology, chief technology officer and VP of practice management—came to him with a recommendation to upgrade the eight-site organization’s PACS.

“We looked at our options just like we look at anything else,” Lemak recalls. “We took the technical capabilities that were critical to us—things like having mobile capability, remote access, and EHR interoperability—and looked at them in light of other factors that we believe are critical to our going forward operationally.”

One of the PACS market offerings the team took under consideration was the Exa Platform. It would have to replace an existing PACS from a different vendor that had been in place since 2005.

“Exa met all the needs we identified,” Lemak says. “And even as we negotiated through and found some things that weren’t exactly what we had in mind, we found a company that could, both culturally and capably, fit our needs.”

Hotly contested market

Lemak Health is a major player in the sports-medicine mecca that is Central Alabama. The founder of the practice—better known as Lemak Sports Medicine & Orthopedics—is Matthew’s father, Lawrence Lemak, MD. Many know Dr. Lemak as medical director of Major League Soccer, founder of the National Center for Sports Safety and co-founder of the American Sports Medicine Institute.

Matthew, whose background is in economics, oversees the Lemak Group, a holding company that is active not only in healthcare but also investment banking and real estate development.

“I spend the vast majority of my time on the healthcare side of our business,” Matthew Lemak told ImagingBiz in a recent interview. “It’s the most highly competitive market.”

For that reason, Lemak Health has followed a strategy of slow but steady expansion. With eight locations humming and a ninth soon to open, the business has been opening new sites every 18 to 24 months and will add four new specialists this year.

When it came to purchasing the new PACS, Lemak Health’s physicians provided a push toward Exa, Lemak says, a key differentiator being the system’s nimble image-stitching component.

“From my perspective, x-ray is the single biggest capital expense I have every year,” he adds. “Being able to go to one vendor for both PACS and x-ray at the same time, and not have vendors pointing fingers at one another about their interoperability—taking that factor out of the equation makes things efficient for our staff and for me.”

Seamless ortho services

In a value-based healthcare economy, providing great care is both the right thing to do and the smart way to do business, Lemak believes. To those ends, the practice partners with Pennsylvania-based Drayer Physical Therapy Institute to provide one-stop service for physical therapy in all its locations.

Because orthopedics is an imaging-intensive specialty, the company has made a major investment in imaging. For example, the practice recently went live with its first MRI. A second is on order for summer installation and a third will follow once a new location is scouted.

 - Sonos Imaging

With its newest Prattville location, Lemak Health has branded its imaging operation as Sonos Imaging, and the location is shared by Sonos Imaging, Drayer Physical Therapy and Lemak Health. Images are sent to a contracted radiology group.

All Lemak Health facilities are equipped with digital radiography. Several of these are Viztek DR units, and, by the end of this year, Viztek DR will be standardized across the practice.

“We have made a wholesale sweep into the Viztek product line as part of our capital plan for this year,” Lemak says. He added that the company will generate around 32,000 x-ray studies this year, along with 5,000 or so ultrasound-guided injections and 7,000 MRI scans.

Capitalizing on strong suits 

Lemak points out that since he took the helm in 2008, the practice has honed its focus to best leverage its core competencies.

“We don’t own a surgery center. We used to own a physical therapy business but no longer do,” he says. “We figured out what we’re really good at, orthopedic medicine, and gave that our full attention. That’s why we’re expanding.”

The expansion extends beyond geography to service lines, as the practice has recently added concussion clinics and minimally invasive outpatient treatments for tendon damage.

“There are only two things we focus on to the core of our business,” Lemak says. “We care about patient care and we care about patient experience. Our facilities are spa-like, close to where people live and work, easy to find and have plenty of surface parking. And we’re fortunate in that 98% of our patients are healthy except for their injury.”

Advantage, Lemak Health

Turning back to PACS, Lemak remembers how the practice was assured that it had made the right selection shortly after the acquisition decision was made. The confirmation came as he observed Viztek’s combination of high-tech solutions with a high-touch sensibility—a blend that mirrors Lemak Health’s approach to patient care.

“We found in Viztek’s people a willingness and agility to work with us and improve our approach on some things that we thought we needed,” he says. “They reinforced that either we did need them or could approach things from a different approach to deliver solutions.”

Today, the Exa Platform across the enterprise provides Lemak Health with not just PACS capabilities, but RIS for scheduling MRIs while using AdvancedMD practice-management system for scheduling x-rays and ultrasounds.

“We’re early on into our Exa implementation and being intentional with it,” Lemak explains. “It has been a great experience so far. We are very, very pleased.”

Enormous implications

Asked for an example of how the Exa Platform has helped Lemak Health compete in one of the most competitive of all healthcare markets—sports medicine—Lemak doesn’t hesitate.

“With Exa’s remote capability this past football season, our docs were always ready in case a football player went down early on in a game, for example,” he says. “The football team can send that athlete over to our closest clinic. Our doctors, including whichever specialist might be needed, can look at that imaging remotely and tell the coach whether the player is a go or a no-go for the rest of the game—all while the game is still underway.”

Score one for Lemak Health on fast results turnaround.

“The patient experience is better, and that’s always number one for us,” Lemak concludes. “From an efficiency standpoint, it means a lot to our revenue cycle to be able to get our reads back quickly and then get our surgeries scheduled faster.

“The implications of having a great, singular IT platform for PACS and RIS and great remote capability really are impactful for our business,” he concludes.

With the acquisition of Viztek, Konica Minolta has established its global Healthcare IT (HCIT) headquarters in Raleigh, NC, where the Exa Platform was engineered.