Quincy-based imaging company to open 7 more locations in 2016


Tom Shields, President & CEO, Shields Health Care Group

Full BBJ article, here

Shields Health Care Group executives have their eyes on expansion, with plans to open seven more outpatient diagnostic centers in 2016.

The 44-year old, Quincy-based family business is already one of the bigger independent imaging companies on the market, boasting 30 MRI centers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, 10 PET/CT scanning centers and two radiation oncology centers in Massachusetts.

Expansion plans will add five PET/CT scanning locations — one in Rhode Island — and two MRI locations in the year ahead. Executives estimate the moves will grow revenue by 8 to 10 percent, and add another state to the list of company locations.

Executives weren’t sure how many more employees might be hired with the additions. To date, the company employs 700 people.

Growth is largely thanks to the popularity of high deductible plans. As consumers take on more of their health care costs, people have begun seeking out services that cost less than they do at academic medical centers.

“Our rates are a fraction of what they get in some of the downtown teaching hospitals,” said Tom Shields, president and CEO of Shields Health Care Group. “We are growing, and the market itself isn’t growing, but market share is going toward us.”

The move is also aided by changes in reimbursements, which require hospitals to manage patients on a budgeted basis or face penalties. Getting medical images at a fraction of the cost leaves more in a patient’s budget for other services.

The latter explains why hospitals have been so eager to financially back Shield’s expansion.
All seven of the new locations will be in partnership with another health system, Shields said. Agreements so far have been signed with Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro for PET/CT scan center, and with Signature Health Care in Brockton on another PET/CT scan center. Both locations are likely to be open by the end of March.

Majority of Shield’s business is already under this “joint venture” model, Shields said. Of the company’s entire portfolio, only four MRI centers are owned entirely by Shields. The rest are partnerships with the likes of Cape Cod Hospital, Southcoast Health System, South Shore Hospital, Lahey Health, Lowell General Hospital, UMass Memorial Health Care, and Baystate Health.

Shields is expanding on the joint venture model in other services as well. Three years ago, the imaging company agreed to co-manage an outpatient surgery center in Dedham with New England Baptist Hospital.

In August, the Department of Public Health gave the green light to a $30 million, 40,000-square-foot outpatient surgery center in Shrewsbury, to be build and owned with UMass Memorial.

Shields said incumbent on him to grow the company at a time where health care is focused on saving money.

“We have an opportunity to grow because the value proposition is out there,” Shields said. “The hospitals have to position themselves for tomorrow. They have to increase their value to patients and consumers. That will require them to lower their rates … we’ve gone into markets like Lowell (and) we’ve increased quality, efficiency and lowered cost to patients…we took their fee schedule and moved it to ours. It was a win/win across the board.”