Berger Makes His Move

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In an article in the March issue of Imaging Economics, Berger acknowledges that his company RadNet strategically acquired 69 imaging centers six months after the act passed into law—for a grand tally of 129 centers regionally clustered throughout the United States—at a time when most imaging center operators were lobbying for the act’s repeal.

“This acquisition was something we had been considering for quite a while, but not until the Deficit Reduction Act came along did we really get serious about it. The DRA was a transforming event. It was a driver for making this transaction happen.”
—Howard Berger, MD

RadNet has positioned itself to benefit from growth in imaging technology applications such as MRI spectroscopy, MRI angiography, PET/CT, and MR-focused ultrasound ablation. But, perhaps most importantly, the company is prepared to offer payors its own home-grown utilization management services.

“Overutilization is rampant in imaging, but that’s not a problem here at RadNet,” Berger told Imaging Economics. “Fifteen years ago, we began offering radiology benefit management services. These have been an enormous help to us, because we’ve assumed for 30 prominent medical groups and IPAs [independent practice associations] in California the full risk of providing imaging services to them under exclusive capitated contracts—we’re talking about more than 750,000 covered lives. In effect, we are the gatekeeper that looks at each request for an advanced imaging study and determines the appropriateness of that request.”

Berger intends to leverage this capability for growth in newly acquired markets. “We’ll be looking for selected opportunities where the benefit of utilization management is recognized and valued by the payor,” he told Imaging Economics. “Such payors could very well be looking for strategic relationships with organizations like ours for the reason that those payors are more concerned with not what they spend per procedures but with how many of the procedures they’re doing. They need a means of getting a handle on both the risk and utilization, and we’re able to provide this assistance.”