Zwanger Pesiri Radiology is an innovative chain of 32 outpatient radiology centers that stretch across Long Island and New York City. Unlike many groups of imaging centers, they aren’t affiliated with any hospitals and so don’t benefit from hospital reimbursement rates or referrals.
Zwanger Pesiri leadership has long recognized that running a successful outpatient business, especially one without the benefit of referrals, hinges on providing great care to their patients. What that means for them is focusing on patient satisfaction -- progressive technology, great service, and short wait times.
As Zwanger Pesiri expanded and began serving more and more patients, their largest cost became payroll. Like many businesses, they were cognizant that improving quality by hiring more radiologists, technologists, and support staff was counter to their business goal of becoming more efficient. A few years ago, they realized that a potential solution was on the horizon: Artificial Intelligence.
“Usually AI gets translated to ‘I will lose my job’” says Bob Day, COO at Zwanger. “AI translates to survival in my mind. It is missing in the community. We are too people dependent and we need to figure out a way to make people more efficient. It is not meant to replace people, it is meant to make people more efficient and high quality”.
And so began their foray into the world of artificial intelligence for radiology. Zwanger’s leadership has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to new technologies, and AI has been no different. As they learned more about solutions they could implement in their clinics, another opportunity dawned on them -- their data.
People in the industry started approaching Zwanger Pesiri asking for access to their data. Bob “realized he was sitting on a gold mine”, and saw the extra revenue from data as something that could help enable the investments that would ensure high quality of care.
The Zwanger Pesiri team started trying to provide data to aid development. “I reached out to some AI companies via email and phone to explain what we had to offer” says Kelly Suarez, “Usually it started off really great but when we hit one bump in the road it drops off”.
The Zwanger data team found themselves in a situation that will be familiar to many healthcare providers that have experimented with monetizing data themselves. Although demand for real world data is booming, often the complexities of extracting, standardizing, anonymizing, and providing it take people by surprise.
As Kelly and her technical counterpart, James Sutcliffe, worked round the clock to put together deals and then coordinate with engineers, data scientists, and project managers at the AI companies to fulfill them, they found themselves repeating the same frustrating situation. Identifying data that fulfilled their customers’ requirements, extracting it and anonymizing it wasn’t always a cookie cutter situation. A request might take a major amount of custom development time on James’ part depending on the types of data required. Not every AI company was willing to meet them halfway.
“When we work with other companies, and we tell them that there is a roadblock, they just drop off and don’t reach back out to us,” says James. This led Zwanger Pesiri to Segmed.
“I figured out that you need a partner to curate the data and make it available to use,” muses Bob. During initial conversations with the Segmed team over the summer of 2019, he was skeptical that Segmed could deliver because he knew the hidden complexities in data curation firsthand. However, he decided to give it a shot.
Over the course of the partnership with Segmed thus far, Zwanger Pesiri has seen tens of thousands of dollars in revenue, which beat their expectations. They were surprised that Segmed was able to generate this value for them even before the Segmed Insight data platform became available to their customers in February 2021.
"Another aspect of working with Segmed that we have found invaluable has been the working relationship."
Becoming fully integrated with Segmed has been an iterative process that has built trust on both sides. As the Segmed tech stack has grown, so has James’. “We are almost at the point where I am fully automated in the next iteration”, says James, “With Segmed, I do my piece, you do your piece, and projects get done.”
Kelly has observed that a major difference between working with Segmed versus other companies is that “Segmed is willing to come up with solutions as a team with Zwanger Pesiri, which makes both of us grow and learn.”
Working with Segmed, Zwanger Pesiri has been able to virtually eliminate wasted time spent interfacing with AI companies themselves, developing ways to search through their data to find required cases, and worrying that the next challenge they encounter will be a deal breaker.
Although James did develop a custom solution to anonymize data prior to working with Segmed, the rapor they’ve established and the alignment in their missions to use data to improve patient care has left both sides reassured.
“With Segmed, I know that if there are issues, I can trust Segmed to faithfully anonymize the data and protect the patients,” says James.
At the end of the day for Zwanger Pesiri, the real success comes from taking care of patients and running a successful business. Providing the best care possible, now and in the future, is what it’s all about.