French private radiologists look to enhance buying power

2019 02 26 04 12 2222 France Flag Button 400

A group of private radiologists in France is seeking to increase its purchasing muscle by extending the reach and activities of the emerging VIDI brand. Six member centers (Narbonne, Lyon, Montpellier, Béziers, Saint-Malo, and Cagnes-sur-Mer) have joined the purchasing group this year, bringing VIDI's membership to 36 facilities and 644 individual radiologists.

Formerly known as Compagnie Générale d'Imagerie Médicale (CGIM), VIDI was announced in October 2018. It is now the largest private buyer in France, after public hospitals.

The group's main aim is to create strong links between radiologists throughout France under one brand, which is recognized by patients and doctors for its quality, noted VIDI General Director Dr. Robert Lavayssière, a staff radiologist and the CEO of Centre d'Imagerie Paris Nord in Sarcelles and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board.

Dr. Robert Lavayssière.Dr. Robert Lavayssière.

VIDI started as a smaller informal group of radiologists who knew each other through the national society of radiology (SFR) and the union of independent radiologists (FNMR).

In 2016, during a symposium in Nancy on volumetric CT, the group discerned a real economic need to consolidate and bring structure and quality to a wider number of members, according to Lavayssière, who pointed to pressure at the time from the government's drive to curb healthcare costs through radiology fee reduction, while the discipline battled with staff shortages and increasing standards for technical and quality assurance, such as the requisite to comply with medical approaches such as "imaging 3.0."

Evolving technology, including teleradiology, and a surge in the number of private investors in the field also were factors that drove the group to formalize in a bid to maintain control of radiology by real radiologists, he explained.

CGIM formally launched in January 2017 with three founding radiologists on the board: Lavayssière and Dr. Laurent Verzaux from IRM Le Havre and former SFR president as general directors and Dr. Alain Guillemot, head of imaging at the Courlancy group in Reims, as the CEO.

Staff also included nonradiology experts, such as business professional Amélie Libessart, who had previous experience in start-ups and acquisition processes, while a professional buyer from the biological lab industry, a communications professional, and an administrative staff member joined the company toward the end of 2018.

In the first bid, the group selected GE Healthcare and Siemens Healthineers for MRI and CT, and all bar one member purchased through CGIM. It also made sales agreements with other partners, including insurance companies, and soon became the largest buyer after public hospitals.

In January 2018, CGIM was renamed VIDI, with the logo "See, Understand, Cure" to make it more instantly recognizable and more memorable.

"VIDI intends to be a visible brand associated with a medical imaging network based upon common fundamental values, excellence, and equal access for all everywhere. Centers are starting to cobrand using the VIDI visual charts," Lavayssière noted. "VIDI is not only patient-oriented but also radiologist-oriented, allowing exchange, cooperation, and solidarity between centers. VIDI is also talking to some [artificial intelligence] companies and soon will organize a teleradiology service (TeleVIDI) between and also outside of its membership."

From initial uncertainty on the part of industrial partners, commercial discussions are now at national and even international levels, he continued. Since 2017, VIDI has increased its membership by a further 22 groups. For 2019, it has selected GE, Philips Healthcare, and Siemens for MRI and Canon Medical Systems, GE, and Siemens for CT purchases.

So why would radiologists want to belong to VIDI? The group brings several advantages, such as undertaking the buying process and providing expertise in different fields: technical, financial, legal, organizational, innovation, and teleradiology, according to Lavayssière. Besides improving quality and choice of machines, and endeavoring to secure good deals with providers for its member centers, VIDI also provides a forum for exchange and support, as well as a visible brand for members to belong to, he added.

In the longer term, it will provide quality assessment, staff recruitment services, more negotiated equipment and services such as x-ray, ultrasound, and informatics/RIS, as well as promote cooperation with other disciplines and AI development partners, due to be announced soon.

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