LACONIA, NH – Have you ever had an MRI or PET/CT scan in New Hampshire? If so, you may have participated in one of the longest hospital collaborations in our state – twenty-five years to be exact.
It has been twenty-five years since New Hampshire Imaging Services, Inc. (NHIS) was founded as a hospital joint venture to meet the needs of New Hampshire patients for medical imaging services.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging, known as MRI, was new technology back in 1985. The idea of hospitals working with each other as collaborators, rather than as “competitors” protecting their own market share, also was new. The vision of providing mobile MRI services, by sharing a piece of expensive MRI equipment among many hospitals throughout New Hampshire, was revolutionary.
In 1988, Concord Hospital, Elliot Hospital, and Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital founded NHIS to realize this vision. Today, NHIS is directed by a group of 13 shareholders – 12 hospitals including Lakes Region General and Franklin Regional Hospitals, and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic.
“The first 18 years of NHIS leadership provided by Dick Warner (Concord Hospital CEO) and Peter Davis (St. Joseph Hospital CEO), whose vision was to make MRI services available to all hospitals, has been critical to the long-term success of NHIS,” stated Bruce Burns, CFO of Concord Hospital and Chairman of the NHIS Board of Directors. “Without this collaborative approach, each hospital would be a small purchaser and user of MRI services. Today, NHIS is the largest single client of America’s largest provider of mobile MRI equipment.”
The benefits of NHIS’s unique, long lasting collaboration to New Hampshire patients, doctors, and hospitals are many:
Through NHIS’s joint purchasing power, hospitals can avoid a multi-million dollar capital purchase of an MRI machine and, as technology changes; they can also negotiate equipment upgrades at minimal cost, reducing the cost of technology obsolescence.
Through collaboration and economies of scale, NHIS’s administrative overhead cost is extremely low, running at just under 3% of total revenue. This ensures that 97% of service costs are directed to clinical care and not administration. Maximizing the dollars for patient care delivery has been the guiding principle for NHIS over its 25 year history.
Increased Patient Access
Shared technology means that all participating hospitals can provide state-of-the-art medical imaging technology to patients, right in their community. In 2002, NHIS was the first to offer Positron Emission Tomography (“PET”) technology in NH, which was soon upgraded to PET/CT. Thus, the latest and greatest imaging services are available statewide - a significant convenience for patients.
Quality of Care
Through NHIS, hospitals are able to participate in a shared Quality Assurance Program. This has been invaluable, helping communities to incorporate new technology brought to the state.
While NHIS has evolved somewhat over its 25 years, it has remained intact through times of both regulation and deregulation largely because of the economic merits of its business model. This cost-effective approach is particularly relevant for health reform and the Accountable Care Act today. Time-sharing of equipment, joint purchasing power, economies of scale and cost sharing of quality assurance allow each hospital to deliver the latest in high quality imaging services with a more measured capital commitment.
NHIS is a “win-win” for patients and LRGHealthcare – still going strong after twenty-five years.