Northside Hospital buys group of imaging centers

Atlanta’s Northside Hospital has acquired 22 medical imaging centers in Georgia, expanding its reach in outpatient services.

Northside Hospital in Atlanta
Northside Hospital in Atlanta

The purchase of MedQuest’s centers in the state brings Northside’s total of imaging centers to 56 in North and Central Georgia.

“We’re committed to a strong outpatient infrastructure,’’ Lee Echols, vice president of marketing and communications for Northside, said Thursday. “The growth of outpatient services is absolutely dramatic.’’

The acquisition price was not disclosed. MedQuest, headquartered in the northern Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, is a subsidiary of  North Carolina-based Novant Health.  

Such outpatient imaging centers can deliver services that include X-rays, MRIs and CT scans, along with mammography and bone-density scans.

Experts called the purchase a good strategic move for the nonprofit Northside system. It’s already one of the largest health care players in Georgia, with hospitals in Atlanta, Canton and Cumming.

With the deal, Northside has picked up imaging centers as far south as Warner Robins, and as far north as Demorest in Habersham County. Additional locations are in Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Cobb counties in metro Atlanta.

MedQuest will continue to operate its remaining 43 centers outside Georgia.

“The expansion is a great improvement in our patient’s access to care, which is a major consideration in today’s health care,” Northside’s Echols said.

MedQuest will also provide strategic and management services to Northside’s imaging network.

Dan Schaefer, CEO of MedQuest, said in a statement that the agreement to provide the services to Northside, combined with Medquest’s current operations, “strongly positions MedQuest as an industry leader in third-party radiology management services. In addition, we will continue to own, manage and expand our existing network of outpatient imaging centers.”

Chris Kane, a consultant with DHG Healthcare, said Thursday that Northside has consistently invested in imaging services.

“Any geographic expansion allows you to carry your brand into new areas,’’ Kane said, adding that MedQuest is “well-regarded for its operation, management and scheduling’’ of imaging services.

Dave Smith of Kearny Street Consulting noted that freestanding imaging centers can price services lower than a hospital-based operation. Patients with high-deductible health plans “are going to these outpatient centers because it’s a big cost savings.”

“It’s a pretty good strategy for Northside,’’ Smith said.