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New health imaging competitor approved in Chapel Hill


University of North Carolina Hospitals will face increased medical imaging competition in Orange County. State regulators approved a new MRI scanner in Orange County, and awarded it to Raleigh Radiology.

UNC Health and Duke Health both sought approval for a similar project. Health care services are tightly regulated in North Carolina through the Department of Health and Human Services.

State regulators approved just one new MRI scanner in Orange County. Both Duke and UNC have filed appeals on the decision, a common practice for an entity that loses a bid.

Raleigh Radiology managing partner Dr. Satish Mathan said he knows the university-based medical systems are established in that part of the Triangle. But he hopes that some added competition will benefit patients.

"We don't have the marketing departments of some of our colleagues at the different blues. But we are able to, on a more personal basis, be flexible in how we deliver care because we have that nimbleness," he said.

UNC Hospitals control all of the market share for MRI scans in Orange County. Last year, there were nearly 38,000 scans performed in the county, done either by UNC Hospitals directly or by Wake Radiology, which has a partnership with UNC Rex Healthcare. Raleigh Radiology estimated it will perform nearly 4,500 MRI procedures by the third year of operation, and generate an average net revenue of $469 per procedure, according to filings with DHHS. It has a partnership with WakeMed, which competes fiercely with UNC Rex in Wake County.

The Raleigh Radiology practice location in northwest Chapel Hill is scheduled to open in the first half of next year.

Jason deBruyn is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Digital News, a position he took in 2024. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016 as a reporter.
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