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NMMC, Premier Radiology open facility at Barnes Crossing

Tupelo — In today’s contemporary healthcare environment, technical knowledge is only one part of the competitive equation. Physicians and administrators must also be fluent in demographic and marketing trends to best understand how to serve their patients better.

Such is the case sparking the recent growth in medical imaging facilities in the Tupelo area. Earlier this month, Premier Radiology and North Mississippi Medical Center opened Medical Imaging at Barnes Crossing — Tupelo’s newest standalone radiology facility — in the high-growth northern part of the city. In April, they launched Medical Imaging on Crossover, another outpatient facility in the center of town closer to North Mississippi Medical Center’s main campus.

Tupelo boasts another unrelated standalone imaging facility, the Imaging Center, which was opened by Tupelo radiologist Dr. Michael Currie in 2003. Driving the trend is an ever-growing emphasis on convenience and access, according to radiology officials.

“We’re seeing a paradigm shift,” said Lee Frans, director of medical imaging at the Barnes Crossing and Crossover locations. “Increasingly, patients are making decisions for services based on access and convenience. As providers of services, our focus is on how we can best meet those lifestyle needs of patients in the region, given their work and family commitments and schedules.”

Frans said that after an intensive study of the needs of residents, as well as research of the perspectives of physicians and nurse practitioners, they concluded that the Barnes Crossing location was opportunistic, given regional traffic patterns.

Additionally, the facility is located next to Barnes Crossing Medical Clinic, giving those patients nearby access to services such as abdominal radiology, CT scanning, ultrasound imaging, plain radiography and mammography. Medical Imaging on Crossover also provides what is known as open magnetic resonance imaging, which meets the needs of patients for whom a traditional MRI is uncomfortable or impossible.

Frans said that all tests are read and interpreted by Premier Radiology physicians. Currently, there are 19 radiologists in this independent physician group, with board certification through the American Board of Radiology.

Frans said that the Barnes Crossing facility has approximately 11,000 square feet of completed space, with about another 4,000 uncompleted that would be available for expansion purposes, if needed. One amenity of particular importance to patients is the close proximity of parking to the facility’s entrance. While something like parking may seem insignificant on the surface, Frans said that it is a considerable issue to convenience-oriented patients.

Extended hours are another critical issue, and as of the beginning of July, Medical Imaging at Barnes Crossing will offer early evening and Saturday hours.

“Many people in the area are employed in manufacturing or another profession where they may not be able to take time off during regular working hours,” Frans said. “The extended hours provide greater flexibility and may help a patient avoid taking a day off.”

Gerald Wages, executive vice president and COO with North Mississippi Medical Center, said that the partnership with Premier Radiology made sense on several levels.

“We recognized the need for additional outpatient facilities, and it just made a lot of sense to do it this way jointly so as to avoid duplication of services,” said Wages. “A number of our patients come through this geographic area and with the clinic next door, we believed that this was an ideal location in terms of access and convenience. While the industry is changing rapidly, we are proud to say that the latest technology is here.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Karen Kahler Holliday at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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