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Big Teleradiology Merger Results: Mixed

October 12, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Emergency Radiology, Practice Management
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Virtual Radiologic‘s big acquisition last year of NightHawk Radiology has yielded mixed results for both entities, according to a new report on the teleradiology market from the health-care research company KLAS.

You can purchase the report, titled Teleradiology Services 2011: Times are Changing, here—for $980 if you’re a provider, $11,980 if you’re not. (We don’t know how many nonproviders will pay $11,980, but apparently KLAS shares the business philosophy of the kid at the lemonade stand who charged $10,000 a glass: “I only have to sell one.”)

We confess to not buying the report, but we did read the KLAS news release about it. The combination of Virtual Radiologic, known as vRad, and NightHawk, announced last September and completed in December, created the country’s largest teleradiology company.

How’s it working out? The KLAS release quotes Emily Crane, KLAS director of teleradiology research and author of the report, as saying:

Many NightHawk customers have reported challenges with turnaround times, and reading physicians have struggled with the transition to vRad’s technology since the acquisition.

vRad, top-ranked in the 2010 KLAS teleradiology report, slipped this year—to third, according to HealthImaging.com, which reported that vRad’s score dropped from 89.7 to 85.9 and NightHawk’s from 84.3 to 75.1. (NightHawk continues operating as a wholly owned subsidiary of vRad.)

“Most of the longtime vRad customers report being relatively happy and appear willing to ride out the storm,” says Crane. “That said, almost half of the former NightHawk customers are looking for other options.”

This year’s top-ranked teleradiology vendor, which also had the fastest preliminary-read turnaround times, was Teleradiology Solutions. Said Crane:

Turnaround times surfaced as a more critical and top of mind issue this year; in fact, much of a vendor’s success hinged on the speed of their turnaround times.

The report mentions StatRad, ONRAD, and Rays as smaller vendors on the rise.

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