In the News

August 29, 2008

Metro Docs Say New MRIs Brighten Financial Picture

St. Louis Business Journal

by Matt Allen

Metro Imaging is spending $4 million to purchase and install new state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems at its South County and St. Peters locations as demand for open-sided MRIs continues to increase.

Metro Imaging CEO Dr. Harley Hammerman said the new system offers two benefits: the open-sided machine means an MRI is more comfortable for the patient, and the unit is twice as fast as Metro Imaging's existing equipment and produces better images.

Chief Financial Officer Chris Keefe said current MRI exams are scheduled in 60-minute increments and the new units will cut that time in half. She expects MRI volume in South County to increase by 30 percent and in St. Peters by 60 percent with the new machines. In 2007, the South County location performed 4,500 MRI exams, and the St. Peters location performed 3,000. Combined with Metro Imaging's three other locations in the St. Louis area, the company performed 15,113 MRI exams last year. Though just a 1.9 percent increase from the number of MRIs performed in 2006, the 2007 total represents a 40 percent increase in volume from five years ago when the company performed 10,780 MRIs.

In addition to its South County and St. Peters locations, Metro Imaging has offices in Creve Coeur, Richmond Heights and Florissant. The company, which is locally owned by 14 radiologists, including Hammerman, has 70 employees and reported $30 million in revenue last year.

Metro Imaging's South County location, at 13303 Tesson Ferry Road, is the first outpatient imaging center in the country to install Hitachi's new Oasis High-Field Open Magnetic Resonance Imaging system. The system, which was installed Aug. 25, will be ready for use by mid- to late-September. The new MRI will be installed at the St. Peters location in December. Heartland Bank provided financing.

Kevin Locke, partner and co-founder of Hudson, Ohio-based health-care consulting company Charis Healthcare, said open-sided MRI machines are quickly becoming the equipment of choice. "Demand for anything that creates an improved patient experience is going up."

The Oasis MRI unit can hold patients weighing up to 500 pounds and provides a 270-degree view for patients as opposed to traditional MRI units where patients enter a closed tube-like structure and often feel anxious and claustrophobic, said Deanne Blume, Metro Imaging's chief operating officer. The shorter examination times will also add to a patient's comfort, she said.

On top of the $4 million for the new MRI units, which includes the purchase price, installation fees and upgrades to the exam rooms, Metro Imaging replaced four ultrasound machines earlier this year at a cost of $300,000. The company also has invested a total of $2 million since late 2006 in digital mammography equipment.

Our Patients Tell Our Story Best

I am going to contact my physician and tell him to start referring patients to Metro. Since many people now have high deductibles, the cost for my exam was 1/3 the cost of just the technical component at the hospital. And I was offered a 40% discount if I paid at the point of service. I also didn't have the issue of parking and waiting like I have experienced in the past with hospital based radiology departments.

- West County Patient

I could not have had a better experience today. I came in to your center extremely nervous, and your staff made me feel like family before I left. This was such a pleasant experience; I have already told a dozen of my co-workers to visit your location if they ever need your services.

- South County Patient

I only go to Metro Imaging, even when the doctor wants me to go to his or her radiology department. Onsite results plus VIP service are prime reasons why I always come to Metro imaging for my radiology tests.

- North County Patient

I had been having my mammograms at a hospital for 20 yrs & decided to go to your facility this time since you are doing 3D at no additional cost to the patient. I am so glad I chose Metro Imaging.

- St. Peters Patient

It was a great experience. I was there for a routine x-ray and didn't have an appointment. I was only there about 35 minutes, what a pleasant alternative to going to the hospital for an x-ray, not to mention the cost savings! I will always choose Metro Imaging over the hospital.

- Richmond Heights Patient

Metro does an EXCELLENT job. I will never return to the hospital-based system again. I recommend Metro to all of my friends.

- St. Peters Patient

I have been in medicine for over 20 years and I have never seen or used a better facility. Efficient, professional, courteous, lower cost – better than any hospital I have seen, and I have used all in the County area as a patient and physician. I have sent my patients to several facilities, outpatient and hospital, nothing better. So all in all, Metro is the best in town for certain.

- West County Patient

OnSite Results eliminates what could be days of uncertainty while waiting for a follow-up from a physician. I received my results within minutes of finishing the exam.

- Richmond Heights Patient

Metro Imaging provides professional diagnostic imaging services in a convenient, service-oriented setting. Metro Imaging has been the model for outpatient imaging in the greater St. Louis area since 1994. Our five locations feature state-of-the-art technology, a friendly and caring staff, easy parking and a warm, upscale environment. With our exclusive OnSite Results, the choice is yours and the results are now.