Saving Our Practice

Dear Editor:
After reading the February 2002 article in Axis Imaging News regarding Radiologix (AMER-RGX), I felt compelled to offer my own experience regarding the company. Radiologix’s business model is based on the purchase of the entire technical and a percentage (30% in our case) of the professional component of the income of existing radiology practices. Our group entered into a partnership with Radiologix 4 years ago, and, at the time, only the partners shared in the “buyout.” Due to pressures exerted on us by the hospitals, we have since been forced to split into two groups. One group stayed exclusively in the outpatient centers and my group agreed to maintain the hospital practice. Unfortunately, after the split I found myself in a group of five physicians of which only one (myself) shared in the buyout. Nonetheless, Radiologix insisted on continuing to collect its 30% management fee, even though…our group is a hospital-based practice. I want to be clear that the management fee charged all groups…based on my experience, does not include other services we are charged for, such as billing, secretaries, and insurance. This posed quite a dilemma for our practice. The four radiologists who had not received the buyout were naturally quite displeased with the arrangement and were looking for employment elsewhere. For months, the only things keeping the group going was Radiologix’s allusions to the fact that they would be making a significant decrease in the 30% management fee. However, attempts to obtain accountings of billing and collection and renegotiate the management fee with Radiologix were unsuccessful. We were forced to resign and file suit against Radiologix or allow our practice to disintegrate. We have chosen to fight to save our practice.

My opinion, based on the foregoing, demonstrates a fundamental flaw in the Radiologix business model as well as that of similar companies. As the practice matures and the recipients of the “golden parachutes” depart, it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to replace these physicians. Recruitment of a new radiologist under the best conditions is currently a real challenge. Add to the fact that a new radiologist is being asked to part with 30% of their revenues and their remuneration for 36 years (this is the remaining length of the contract), and the challenge becomes an impossibility.

It may have been easier, certainly, and less complicated just to find employment elsewhere. However, I have a genuine sense of loyalty to the physicians in our group and to the community in which I have served for the past 13 years. This has steered my decision to fight to save our practice. I will be interested to see over time what happens to Radiologix. Historically, similar ventures have failed to pass the test of time. History has a strange way of repeating itself.

Alex Vennos, MD
Radiology Associates of the Treasure Coast Inc
Port St Lucie, Fla