Harnessing Technology, Helping People

Future Medical Imaging Group

His company is committed to adopting these technologies as soon as they hit the market. “Since our company’s inception in 1999, we have always worked to the best of our ability to engage the newest technology in the medical imaging field,” Dr Taranto says. “We have had the privilege to be at the cutting edge of medical imaging.”

Since Business in Focus featured FMIG in 2012, the company has incorporated even more breakthrough technology into its clinics – while also maintaining its trademark patient-first culture.

FMIG was founded fourteen years ago by a small group of radiologists committed to providing superior service. The company, which operates four clinics in the Melbourne area, is owned and operated by these Managing Radiologists – which sets the organisation apart, and allows it to focus on patient care. “Being a non-corporate, private radiology practice, our main focus is always on the patient,” Dr Taranto explains. “We are committed to helping people. Yes, we are a business, but we are not in it purely for the business of making money; we are also doctors. Patient safety and care is the priority. We are doctors first and businessmen second.”

Putting patient care before profits is actually good for business, however. “We know that if we look after our patients and provide a very good service to our patients, then the business side of things will take care of itself,” Dr Taranto explains. “Patients will come to us if they know that they will get good quality service, and doctors will refer their patients to us if they know that their patients are going to be treated well and have access to the latest technology.”

Because top notch technology is a crucial component of quality patient care, “it is very important to keep abreast of the latest innovations in equipment. It gives the doctors confidence, it gives the patients confidence, and it also gives us confidence that we have the tools to get the most accurate diagnoses for our patients.”

Fortunately, FMIG’s business structure enables the company to adopt the latest technology without delay. “Because we have a relatively small scale and we have a direct management model, we can make decisions quickly and see decisions implemented quickly, without too much red tape.” Before purchasing expensive new medical equipment, corporations often require approval from directors who do not have medical backgrounds. “But we know exactly what the technology is, and we know when a piece of equipment is going to be important,” Dr Taranto says of FMIG’s Managing Radiologists. “We can make that decision and we can make it more quickly than we could in a larger corporation.”

Not surprisingly, FMIG has recently been buzzing with new technological developments. MRI services have been expanded and are now available at three of the four sites: St Albans, Moonee Ponds, and Hawthorn. In addition, “we were the first private radiology group in Australia to introduce MRI guided focused ultrasound technique (MRgFUS) for treatment of uterine fibroids,” Dr Taranto reports. This leading edge treatment utilises high frequency sound waves (in the 0.2 – 10 MHz range) to heat and ablate tissue. Since its introduction, the team has also been able to use this special MRI guided technology to treat some bone tumours and soft tissue masses as well. “We are at the cutting edge in Australasia with that technology.”

FMIG has also added nuclear medicine to its list of services. Nuclear medicine utilises very small amounts of radiopharmaceuticals to diagnose and treat certain medical conditions. These radiopharmaceuticals are administered to the patient in various ways and then detected by a special type of camera that, with the help of computers, is able to provide very precise images.

“Previously none of us had nuclear medicine experience, so we hired a nuclear medicine specialist to oversee the nuclear medicine services,” Dr Taranto says. The new addition has been quite successful, and the feedback from referring physicians has been excellent. These referring physicians want to be able to refer their patients to FMIG for all of their imaging needs, which was not possible before the group added nuclear medicine to its roster of services. “We have added a new modality which previously we did not have, and we feel that has really complemented the services we already provided.”

FMIG has also been busy expanding its computerised tomography (CT) services. “We have been at the forefront with CT cardiac imaging,” Dr Taranto reports. This relatively new technique, which images the small vessels around the heart, was only available at the Hawthorn site a few years ago. In 2012, the team began offering the service at Moonee Ponds, and has just installed the state of the art technology at the St Alban’s location. St Albans also enjoyed a substantial recent expansion when an adjacent building was taken over by the clinic.

The team has also introduced CT colonography to its clinics. This procedure, which is also referred to as virtual colonoscopy, uses low dose radiation CT scanning to view the colon in order to detect cancer. Previously, the colon could only be seen through the far more invasive traditional colonoscopy, in which an endoscope is inserted into the colon.

FMIG has also updated every one of its CT scan machines in order to lower a patient’s exposure to radiation. “We now have state of the art low dose CT technology across every site,” Dr Taranto shares. CT Scans use x-rays to take multiple pictures from different angles around the body, so excess radiation exposure is a common concern for many patients. The team already offered low dose CT services when they were last profiled in 2012, “but we have added further upgrades to some of the systems to reduce the dose to patients even more.”

In addition to investing in very low dose radiation CT scan imaging, the team has also expanded its MRI services, allowing patients with certain diagnoses to skip the CT scan altogether and opt for an MRI instead. An MRI, which stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, uses magnets to create images of the inside of the body, rather than using x-rays like a CT scan does. “There is no exposure to x-ray radiation,” Dr Taranto explains.

Indeed, FMIG is committed to reducing radiation exposure across the board. “We have a good structure in place for radiation safety,” Dr Taranto insists. “We have radiation safety officers, we have undergone radiation safety audits in the past, and we have developed a comprehensive radiation policy in line with accreditation standards.”

Investing in the newest technology has paid off; as services have increased, so have revenues, particularly at the newer sites. “At Hawthorn, our newest site, we are seeing a progressive increase in numbers of patients and revenue year after year,” Dr Taranto reports.

And the team isn’t finished yet. “We are looking to further expand our services,” says Dr Taranto. There are already plans on the table to continue expanding FMIG’s MRI services, CT cardio angiogram services, and MRI guided ultrasound fibroid treatment service. “There are a number of other services that we are also developing,” Dr Taranto adds. Nuclear medicine, which is very new to FMIG, will continue to be developed and will likely be more widely utilised in the near future.

The team is also considering adding a fifth clinic someday. “Ultimately, we are looking to expand the whole company with a new site,” Dr Taranto says. With state of the art technology and a clear commitment to putting people first, FMIG is sure to continue growing – and to continue helping patients.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

January 18, 2019, 3:33 AM AEDT