Workers unload the main magnet
section of an magnetic resonance imaging machine for
the Smart Choice MRI clinic opening at 2005
Silvernail Road in early December.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff
WAUKESHA - Small staffs, cost-effective environments and
a single, isolated task. That’s the type of business
model which allows Smart Choice MRI to operate as the
only flat-rate magnetic resonance imaging center in the
country for a cost that’s likely far below what patients
are used to seeing in a hospital.
group - which already has clinics open in Milwaukee,
Richfield and Sheboygan - will breach new territory next
week when it opens its first Waukesha location.
Anderson - who’s in his first year as Smart Choice’s CEO
after a lengthy career in digital health care, including
a start-up team which helped create WebMD and, more
recently, Sharecare - said each existing location is
already running at or near max capacity, which led the
company to begin seeking out new markets early this
always had it on our radar,” he said of Waukesha. “We
opened a new location in Richfield and thought, ‘let’s
get that up and learn from that.’
The main magnet section of a GE
magnetic resonance imaging machine is brought in
through a hole cut in the back wall of the new Smart
Choice MRI clinic at 2005 Silvernail Road.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff
this location, it is the same general contractor, the
same architect, the same trades, all the
sub-contractors, the same MRI machine. It’s like if you
build a McDonald’s, everything is done the same way. We
are learning how to do that.”
One service equals lower overhead costs
he is still learning to streamline his clinics, Anderson
and his team have already found a winning business model
- offering MRI service for a flat, all-inclusive price
of $600 - thousands less than the $1,500 to $3,000
hospitals often charge for the same procedure.
difference, Anderson said, is that because Smart Choice
provides a single health care service, it can keep its
overhead costs - employees, equipment, locations - to a
Waukesha location, like the other three clinics, will
have less than 10 full-time employees, only two of which
would be on duty at any given time. On Monday, a 1.5
Tesla, twin-speed MRI machine from General Electric was
delivered and installed into the building at 2005
Waukesha in particular, you have got a very
sophisticated user base,” said Anderson. “They work at
GE, they work at some of these technology companies, so
they know to ask the questions. Is it a 1.5 Tesla unit
or a .3 - they know the difference. So we had to put,
and wanted to put, the best of the best out here.”
open, patients can go to their appointment, get a scan -
which is immediately sent off to be read and interpreted
by doctors in the teleradiology department at the
Cleveland Clinic - and get results sent from there back
to their primary physician in about the time it normally
takes to go grocery shopping.
“Within an hour of receiving the MRI, your doctor can
log into our system and see the results,” Anderson said.
“You have best-of-breed physicians involved and
best-of-breed technology from GE, which happens to be
literally across the street. It is the best of the best,
and because it is all we do, we can do it affordably.”
Choice is expected to open four additional Midwest
clinics by the end of 2015.
Anderson said part of what drives his business is the
dawning of what he calls the “informed consumer.” He
compared the current health care system to going to a
car dealership, buying a car and getting a bill 90 days
later which includes extra bells and whistles the buyer
didn’t want or need.
patients are more able to research what they actually
need, and as a result, they know what questions to ask
doctors and can trim down their bills.
not the hospital’s fault, it’s not (President Barack)
Obama’s fault - it is a broken system,” he said. “So if
we can, as a company, fix one part of that, we feel like
we have done our part.”