Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking to Brian Olson and Josh Runyon from Newport Diagnostic Center, located in Newport Beach, Calif., to learn how they were taking steps to make their radiology practice more connected to the local medical community. 

It's no secret that radiology, independent imaging centers in particular, is undergoing significant change to their business model. Many imaging clinics feel they are under attack by changes in the marketplace. They are not required to attest for Meaningful Use and they feel singled out by the Affordable Care Act and its goal to reduce costs of patient care.

Imaging, by its very nature, is the very definition of cutting edge. CT, PET-CT, MRI, fMRI, Gamma, etc., are million-dollar technologies that allow caregivers to digitally map the organs, bones, and vascular system of a patient from outside his or her body, and it's absolutely fascinating. However, a scan from a $2 million dollar MRI machine comes with a price that many feel may be exorbitant for certain medical conditions, an attitude that has the potential to reduce market demand for their services. 

There are two paths that stand-alone imaging clinics like Newport Diagnostic Center have taken in light of the current changes: bail water or build a better boat. Brian and Josh chose the latter and have worked tirelessly to make their services more attractive to the referring medical community, or as it's often called in marketing-speak: they became a premium provider. Why? Because, as Brian said to me, "We couldn't afford not to and get left behind."

To differentiate their services, Newport Diagnostic Center has qualified for Meaningful Use to prove to the referring community that they are ready for the exchange of clinical data as required in Stage 2 requirements. And to reaffirm their value to referring physicians with no EHRElectronic Health Record (EHR), as defined in Defining Key Health Information Technology Terms (The National Alliance for Health Information Technology, April 28, 2008): An electronic record of health-related information on an individual that conform... More, Mimi Agnew, a member of their IT department, built a secure website that allows referring medical staff to enter order information and receive results online.

This is an inspiring business strategy representative of what health IT leaders can achieve with creativity, a knowledge of needs in the local marketplace, and a willingness to try something that hasn't been done before. More importantly to me, it shows the can-do attitude of health IT professionals, something that should be celebrated during this National Health IT Week.

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