Intermountain Healthcare plans to launch a new subsidiary, Tellica Imaging, to offer MRIs and CT scans outside its hospitals, the company announced Monday.
The new entity will kick off operations in Utah, with plans to open three standalone imaging sites in the Beehive State later this year, before adding at least five more locations starting next year, the Salt Lake City-based health system said in a news release.
The move comes as health insurance companies including UnitedHealth Group, Anthem and Cigna have stopped covering MRIs and CT scans performed at hospital settings in recent years, instead directing patients to lower-cost standalone facilities.
The cost of routine diagnostic imaging tests was 165% higher in hospital outpatient settings than at standalone imaging centers, according to a report UnitedHealth Group issued in 2019.
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"While hospital-based imaging services remain an important part of the care process, particularly in emergency situations and when complex imaging services are needed, many patients prefer to access CT scan and MRI imaging services in convenient settings closer to home," Intermountain Healthcare board chair Nannette Berensen said in a news release. Berensen is interim CEO of Tellica and the health system's vice president and chief operating officer of clinical shared services.
Tellica is in the process of hiring about 20 staff for its first three locations, as well as recruiting a CEO. Brad Isaacson, Intermountain Ventures' venture value creation and business development director, is the chief operating officer and Dr. Douglas Greally, the health system's associate medical director of imaging operations, is the chief medical officer.
Intermountain Healthcare operates in Utah, Idaho and Nevada at 25 hospitals and 225 clinics. Earlier this month, the company signed a letter of intent to merge with Broomfield, Colorado-based SLC Health. That deal is expected to close early next year and would expand the system's footprint to six states.