As Altima celebrates our 10-year anniversary, we couldn’t think of a better time to take a glance back at the last decade and see how things have evolved with diagnostic imaging. Our CEO and President Larry Knight answered some pressing questions on everything from how the industry has changed to what advice he would give to newcomers. Over the years, Larry has made a name for himself around the world for delivering the very best in MRI services, and for his work in equipment design and remote services.
Q: Why did you decide to start Altima 10 years ago and how did your original vision for the company compare?
Larry Knight: After working for other OEMs and vendors for 25 years, I decided I wanted to be my own boss and establish my own journey as an expert in the industry. The vision has always been to create relationships and develop and maintain honest and ethical solutions in line with the OEM. I think Altima has been very successful at that over the past 10 years.
Q: Obviously, the technology in this industry gets more and more complex every year. Has that created a challenge or opportunity for Altima?
Larry Knight: It has created both a challenge and an opportunity. As technology gets more complex, it produces new challenges, and Altima prides itself on meeting these challenges. Our high-level engineers continue to learn and develop solutions, even beyond what the OEM can provide.
By supporting hundreds of engineers from other companies, both in the U.S. and around the world, we find opportunities to share our expertise and solve new issues as they arise. In fact, we have developed a reputation for being an end-point solutions provider even in cases where the OEM has condemned the machine.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to entrepreneurs or health care professionals looking to open their own imaging centers?
Larry Knight: In today’s environment, my advice is don’t try to do it alone. The landscape has changed so much in the last 10 to 15 years that individual imaging centers are finding it challenging or close to impossible to operate as an individual entity. Most centers across the U.S. have been bought out or they’ve consolidated their operations into multiple imaging operations. This strategy allows them to distribute risk but also leverage a larger customer base, and it equalizes the playing field. So, if you’re a single entrepreneur, you need to find strong partners and/or referrals to give you the customer base. You may need to consider that you will probably need to move into multiple centers or collaborate and sell to a larger group at some point.
Q: What changes have you seen in the industry over the course of your career?
Larry Knight: Twenty years ago, it was just large hospitals performing diagnostic imaging. There were no individual centers at that point. Over the next 10 years, independent imaging centers became more prevalent. The landscape moved from just diagnostic imaging to doing doctor-owned diagnostic and elective imaging for a variety of issues. In the last five years or so, many of those individual centers have been bought out or consolidated into larger groups that may own 50 or 100 imaging centers spread across the entire United States. So, what used to be individual entities are now large groups that provide elective and diagnostic images for patients. This brings me back to the last question on what advice I would give, and I’d point out again that as an individual center, it’s very tough to survive.
Q: What about veterinarians? When did they start performing MRIs for animals?
Larry Knight: The veterinarian market is really interesting. In the last three or four years, I’ve seen pet insurance gain popularity. But a lot of the diagnostic imaging for pets started in Canada. Ironically, Canada has social healthcare, and there are not a lot of diagnostic imaging centers for humans. They are mostly located in large cities. But for pets, the diagnostic imaging market is a cash one. People bring their pet in, and the vet can require cash payment, right then and there. For the vets that can afford to invest in this equipment, they are making a tremendous amount of money, and they don’t have to wait for insurance or social reimbursement.
In the U.S., it’s also becoming a larger market, and even with pet insurance, which usually will have a high deductible, the vet can get reimbursed much quicker than waiting on normal health insurance.
Q: If you had to pinpoint one positive impact Altima has had over the past ten years on the industry, what would it be?
Larry Knight: The support we’ve provided to customers and competitors around the world. You can accomplish much more in life by collaboration rather than competition. Competition is good, but our reputation has always been collaboration over competition. This belief has allowed us to be seen as a trusted leader and partner in our industry.
Q: Thinking back to all the customers you’ve had over the last 10 years, is there one that stands out?
Larry Knight: Our long-term relationship with Owen Kane Holdings and Phil Jacobus. Through that relationship, we’ve developed the ability to take MRIs and imaging equipment from the U.S. into Russia. That learning experience, of working with other countries, equipped us with the tools to help us in this industry.
Q: What are your goals for the future of Altima?
Larry Knight: We’ll continue to execute and grow. The landscape of the industry may change but we will always stay true to our mission of creating lasting relationships and operating with honesty and integrity to provide the best possible solutions for our customers.
Altima is here for you – whether you are thinking of starting your very own diagnostic imaging business or if you are looking for service for your existing systems! Contact Larry and the rest of our team at Altima today.