Virtual Radiologic (vRad), a technology-enabled national radiology practice, and Lakeland Radiologists, Ltd., a multi-site, Central Illinois-based radiology practice serving Champaign/Urbana, Effingham, Danville, and surrounding areas, have formed a strategic alliance merging Lakeland with an affiliated medical practice of vRad. To be known as Lakeland Radiology Alliance, the new practice will yield Lakeland facilities greater access to subspecialists, next-generation technology, clinical data benchmarking, and the shared expertise of 325-plus radiologists nationwide.
Established more than 30 years ago, Lakeland is currently comprised of 15 radiologists and provides imaging services to four regional hospitals and numerous affiliated and freestanding clinics across 500 square miles. The collaborative effort was initiated in a move to enhance the quality and efficiency of these services, according to Aldo C. Ruffolo, ATC, DO, Lakeland’s medical director.
“As we looked at growth of our practice and the changing landscape of the healthcare industry, we had to find more efficient ways to meet the increasing demands for our services,” he says. “We had been providing traditional onsite radiology for years, which was becoming increasingly challenging in our broad geography without a fully integrated teleradiology solution. We also had three different PACS systems and needed a unified work list across all sites with access to subspecialty coverage, especially for our smaller critical-access hospital customers.”
Assessing the cost and associated risk of new technology and additional staffing, Lakeland initially approached vRad about the latter’s Enterprise Connect technology, the core platform it uses to manage and read more than seven million studies annually from 2,700 facilities. The technology is said to be especially beneficial to providers like Lakeland, where radiologists work across disparate systems in different facilities across a wide geographic area. “vRad’s technology will help improve communications to hospitals, practices, and patients,” Ruffolo note, adding that joining vRad as an alliance partner will improve and grow the practice.
“Working with our radiology practice customers to deliver technology solutions has enabled us to forge deeper relationships and employ creative solutions that were not previously available,” adds Rob Kill, vRad’s president and chief executive officer. “As the healthcare market continues to rapidly evolve, we see demands for new and more integrated care delivery models that can expand access, improve quality and reduce costs. Partnerships like these are becoming an important tool to reduce overall costs through technology-driven efficiencies. Our Lakeland alliance extends our long-standing commitment to serve local radiology groups, not compete with them, collaborating to enhance quality delivery of innovative radiology services.”
Lakeland Radiology Alliance is vRad’s most recent foray into forging radiology practice partnerships. The formation of New York Radiology Alliance, a 60-radiologist practice serving 12 hospitals and 30 other imaging centers and clinics in New York, was announced last August and has already resulted in enhanced service and efficiency, Ruffolo and Kill report.