By Dara O’Brien

Numed Inc’s pay-per-study service model presents an economical alternative for providers seeking to introduce new modalities.

The dual imperatives of improving patient care while controlling costs present ever-increasing challenges for healthcare providers. Those challenges can be even more complex among rural facilities that serve less densely populated areas.

Innovative business models from companies like Numed, Inc. offer intriguing solutions. With services typically contracted on a pay-per-study basis, Numed delivers alternatives to providers who want to expand or upgrade modalities with little to no capital outlay or staffing increases. “The Numed service model is a viable option to address both the guidelines and constraints of a particular facility, without having to compromise quality and effective patient care,” explained Jack Allen, Numed’s vice president, sales and marketing.

Numed provides imaging equipment (with availability from multiple vendors) backed by OEM-trained field service engineers. It can work within the current hospital infrastructure, build out or remodel existing space, or furnish a trans-locatable or permanent structure to house the modality. Just as important for many providers, the company offers a range of additional support services, including staffing with registered or registry-eligible technologists; reimbursement assistance; regulatory and documentation services; and marketing and promotion assistance. “Our goal is not to merely place equipment and provide imaging services, but rather work with our customers to provide comprehensive solutions for their imaging department,” said Allen.

Based in Denton, Texas, Numed was founded in 1975 as a provider of contract nuclear medicine services, and has since added computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET/CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound to its service offerings. Its customer base runs from small community hospitals to urban medical centers.

One of the company’s earliest clients was Coryell Memorial Healthcare System (CMHS), a community-owned healthcare organization in Gatesville, Texas. The organization contracted Numed 35 years ago to provide nuclear medicine services. Implementation of the modality enabled CMHS to offer procedures their patients would otherwise have to travel at least 45 minutes to obtain.

Two years later, Ernestine Fincher, CMHS’s director of diagnostic imaging, joined the organization with a mandate to move those services in-house. “It didn’t take me long to realize that the economical thing to do was to stay with Numed,” she said. “Based on the numbers we were doing, the types of studies, the Medicare mix, and licensing costs, it didn’t make any sense not to use Numed.”

Numed provides a primary technologist who lives in the community and works alongside CMHS staff three days a week. Additional coverage is available as needed, including an on-call technologist. “They know the hospital policy and procedures,” said Fincher. “They fit in perfectly.” There were some issues with after-hours coverage at the beginning of the contract, but those issues were quickly resolved. When unscheduled study is required, “we call it in, and somebody will be here,” said Fincher. She also noted the consistent high quality of all studies Numed performs, and the high level of satisfaction from CMHS’s radiology department.

CMHS also relies on Numed’s compliance and reimbursement assistance. “CPT codes change right and left, and that’s one thing as a manager I don’t have to worry about,” said Fincher. “Numed lets me know when things are going to change.”  When CMHS encountered some Medicare issues, “Numed came up with a solution that was a win-win for everybody,” said Fincher. CMHS has employed Numed’s marketing arm as well, which has included physician outreach and public relations services.

According to Fincher, the equipment Numed provides is upgraded about every three years, usually at Numed’s suggestion. If CMHS requests expanded capabilities, the contract is extended in support of the investment. “As we’ve grown,” said Fincher, “Numed has grown with us.”