Investor-backed Outpatient Imaging Affiliates inks deal to open academic center’s 1st freestanding site

Outpatient Imaging Affiliates recently inked a deal to help an east coast academic center open its first freestanding radiology site, the two announced recently.

OIA is working with Farmington, Connecticut-based UConn Health, which has seen “unprecedented growth” in patient volumes. The two hope that by partnering, they’ll speed up appointment requests, minimize wait times and cut costs for patients.

UConn Health said this is the first freestanding, nonhospital outpatient imaging facility in its history, which traces back to the 1970s.

"UConn Health’s incredible growth over the past five years created patient access issues for timely imaging tests,” Chris Hyers, VP of strategy and business development, said in a statement. “We knew we needed to develop new access points and modernize our nonhospital imaging services to meet the evolving needs of our community. Collaborating with OIA provided us with the expertise needed to solve this critical problem and learn from the other academic medical centers who have previously partnered with OIA for similar reasons.”

The center officially opened on April 29, located about half a mile from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine campus. UConn Health Imaging is in the same facility as the organization’s new Brain and Spine Institute that offers neurology, cranial neurosurgery, and comprehensive spine care. Imaging services at the facility will include MRI, CT scan, X-ray, DEXA, mammography and ultrasound.

London-based investment firm the Cranemere Group acquired Outpatient Imaging Affiliates in 2021 via a deal valued at $400 million. Founded in 2000, the Tennesse healthcare group operated 56 centers across 18 markets at the time of the sale. OIA’s primary business model is to form joint ventures with local providers, investing its own equity into new or existing centers. Health system partners include UVA Health in Virginia, MedStar Health in Maryland and Jefferson Health in Philadelphia. Along with the initial investment, OIA handles development, management, marketing, billing and collection services in its ventures.

Meanwhile, Cranemere prides itself on avoiding the “pitfalls of short-termism,” the burdens of “excessive leverage” and “distraction of being sold” that come with the private equity model. The firm is structured as a holding company and typically buys with the intent to permanently keep its assets. Cranemere also owns Irving, Texas-based Northstar Anesthesia after acquiring a majority stake in 2018.

"This partnership marks a significant milestone for both UConn Health and OIA," Outpatient Imaging Associates President Amy Stout said in a statement. "By leveraging our collective expertise and resources, we are poised to better serve both patients and providers and elevate access to imaging services for UConn Health patients and the surrounding communities.”

In a separate announcement, the university labeled this as the “first location” of UConn Health Imaging, hinting at the potential for more. UConn Health is Connecticut’s only public academic medical center, with annual economic impact of $3.3 billion and handling over 1.5 million patient encounters each year. It’s also the state’s largest producer of physicians.

Marty Stempniak

Marty Stempniak has covered healthcare since 2012, with his byline appearing in the American Hospital Association's member magazine, Modern Healthcare and McKnight's. Prior to that, he wrote about village government and local business for his hometown newspaper in Oak Park, Illinois. He won a Peter Lisagor and Gold EXCEL awards in 2017 for his coverage of the opioid epidemic. 

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