a sonographer's guide to entrepreneurship

Talking tech

Ep 39: Ultrasound Business Model: Screening Services

Join Jennifer as she zeroes in on offering Ultrasound Screening Services as part of your ultrasound business. The discussion explores the plethora of opportunities for sonographers to provide valuable services within the community. From understanding the nuances of insurance-covered screenings to navigating the waters of self-pay models, this episode is packed with insights on how to integrate screening services into your business, whether it’s through mobile ultrasound fee-for-service or setting up shop in local community centers.

Get ready for an enlightening conversation that promises to arm you with the knowledge you need to expand your ultrasound business and provide an invaluable preventive service to your community. Whether you’re an experienced sonographer or just starting out, this guide to screening services is sure to inspire and inform.

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Hey, sonographers, grab a seat and a cup of coffee. Welcome to Ultrasound Business School. I’m your host, Jennifer Lindsey. This is Talking Tech a Sonographer’s Guide to Entrepreneurship. Welcome in to the Talking Tech podcast. I’m so excited to chat with you today about Ultrasound Screening Services as a business model. 


There are so many opportunities that we have in the Ultrasound space to provide services in our community, and one of those is screening services. A lot of you may have heard of Lifeline Screenings. They are a national company providing those services across the country in communities, centers, churches, those types of places, and I think one of the things to remember is that that’s not the only way to provide screening services. I have a lot of clients that are providing mobile ultrasound fee-for-service right where they’re going into physician practices or facilities providing those diagnostic ultrasounds and also adding in the opportunity for their physician practices to be able to provide screening services in the practice. Now, there are a few screenings that are paid by insurance.  AAA screen is one of those and there are really specific Medicare rules and guidelines about who is eligible for that, how often they can get it, et cetera, so make sure you look those up for your physicians. Most screening services, however, are going to be self-pay for the patient because they are not deemed medically necessary, right. They are a preventive measure and so not deemed medically necessary to be reimbursed by insurance. There are so many different types of screening services that you can provide. I always suggest to clients, when they’re thinking about adding this into their business, to check out what Lifeline is doing in their area. 


Also, of course, look at the opportunities that you have based on the types of diagnostic ultrasounds that you’re able to do, to see what types of screening opportunities you have. The way that that would be set up inside a physician practice is you would have them book those in with the rest of the patients that you have on the schedule for the diagnostic ultrasounds, right? And then the physician practice would want to have a self-pay rate for all of those screenings that weren’t going to be covered by insurance again, which is the majority, and they would charge their patient self-pay rate for those ultrasound screenings. You would then send those off to the radiologist for a read right, and it would be set up as a screening read. Sometimes the information that they’re giving may be on more of a letter. If that makes sense with issues, you need to have a diagnostic ultrasound as one of the checkoffs or within normal limits. So it’s going to be, of course, less of a report from the interpreting physician, whether that’s your interpreting radiologist or interpreting cardiologist, if you are providing echo screens as an example but it’s going to be something that I would always suggest still having that interpretation completed by the interpreting physician. 


You can also look at providing these services similar to how a lifeline does in community centers, churches, you know local areas like that right, where patients would come on a specific day. You would have that set up with the location and they would be able to provide the services right there on location. You would want to have a scheduling system set up, right. You’ll need the patient paperwork documents for them to sign. You would, because this is self-referred right. If you’re doing it out at like a community center, et cetera, you would be sending the report, the overview by the radiologist or cardiologist, direct to the patient, right? So if you’re doing it inside your physician client office, that’s obviously coming right back to that physician. But when you’re doing this outside the physician practice where the patients are referring themselves to you, you would be sending then the report direct to the patient. 


Now, one of the things that you will need to double check on for your specific state is whether or not patients are allowed to self-refer or ultrasound right. Here in Indiana we are willy-nilly with that right, so patients don’t need an order for ultrasound from their physician, even for diagnostics here in Indiana. Now we have specific protocols for our own business right as the business owners that we’ve put in place, but we wanted to find that out right so that we would know whether or not we were able to do screening opportunities here in Indiana without an order from the physician right where the patient is self-referring to us for that elective ultrasound. Now elective ultrasound again could be a screening ultrasound right the patient is electing to do it themselves or a 3D ultrasound as an example. So for those of you in the 3D realm, that is a great thing to double check in your state to ensure that you do not need an order for those ultrasounds direct from the physician, and there are a few workarounds to that with having your interpreting physician create the orders if needed, but that’s definitely something that you would want to double check. 


The other way that you can provide screening services is to work with corporations. A lot of bigger corporations will have in kind of partnership with providing health insurance for their employees. Sometimes those health insurance companies will give discounts for those benefits that the company is providing to their employees if they provide preventive services. Preventive services could be free gym memberships for all of their employees. Right, if you provide a free gym membership, we will give a discount on the health insurance that you’re paying, because obviously staying healthy and preventing disease is going to be less costly to the health insurance company for those patients. Screening opportunities may be something that the corporations can utilize inside that kind of preventive measure for the benefits that they are providing to their employees, and so the best people to chat with there would likely be the HR directors. 


You can always start with just kind of you know, the main number for these corporations and find out who deals with that specific thing. I know we have some clients that work with school corporations, others that work with bigger companies, and so this is absolutely something that a lot of times, when we think of screening ultrasounds, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind. So three main places that we can be providing screening services, aside from also, if you have your own facility, maybe you’re doing 3D ultrasounds there. Maybe you’re doing diagnostic ultrasounds yourself at a facility or out in patient homes, right, so providing those services. You can add screening services in as an adjunct to the things that you’re already providing, so there’s a multitude of ways that this can be used. Again, you guys hear me talk about this all the time to diversify your revenue streams. This is the way to build a big business. Right, having multiple market opportunities, multiple places that you are receiving revenue from, multiple types of services that you are providing. 


Now, don’t start out this way. Start with one thing right, listen to your market when you’re out marketing for these services, listen to the things other people are asking. I just had a conversation on our Instagram Live earlier today about this exact same thing, because I was DMing with quite a few of you about this question. Right, I’m out marketing and I hear this from clients a lot of times as well I’m out marketing. Right, let’s say, they are set up as mobile fee for service. That’s how they’re starting their business. Right, where they are out providing services inside a physician practice, they’re bringing in the system, the ultrasound system, the sonographer, the physician practice is billing insurance directly. They’re marketing those services and they start to hear from multiple groups that they are meeting with hey, love the idea of having something in their practice. Don’t wanna do the bill Right. 


We can look at that as oh my gosh, I picked the wrong business model. Or, oh, this is the wrong thing that I’m shooting to do, right? Or the mindset can be this is awesome, I’m doing market research as I’m marketing my business. Right, not everyone’s going to be a fit for the specific service that I’ve chosen to start with, but I’m marketing those services and in the meantime, also, I’m getting free market research. All right, at that point, you’re out marketing your services anyway. This is something that is a byproduct of that, so start keeping those on a Google Sheet for yourself. 


Right, mark down every single person who would love the service loves the idea, but would love it set up in a different way. When you start getting a multitude of people on that list, that’s the time to say, hey, maybe this is the next best opportunity, right, not detriment. We’re changing our mindset completely here. This is not a detriment. People are going to say no to your service. It’s just how marketing works, right? Every single company in the world deals with this. Not every person who sees right an ad buys the thing. That’s not how it works, and so we have to get super comfortable with people saying no and people saying yes, if right. No thanks, this is not for me. Or yeah, this sounds like a great idea if you have it set up in XYZ fashion. 


So we understand that there’s going to be multiple reactions to the marketing that we are providing, and one of those is yes, I love the service, let’s sign the contract. One of them is yes, I love the service idea, would love it if you were set up XYZ way. That goes on a Google sheet, you start keeping track of those. Or no thanks, this is not for me, and I’d love to remind you as well. You also get to say no thanks, right, there are going to be facilities that you walk into, physician practices that you walk into, that you’re like this is not my vibe, right, this setup, for whatever reason. Maybe it is the way the office runs, maybe it is the personalities of the people in the office, right, there’s a multitude of ways and reasons why the vibe is not going to work between you and a facility, you and a physician practice, et cetera, and that’s okay. So you also have the opportunity to say no, thank you, and so I just want to ingrain that in the minds of everyone listening. 


I talk about this with my clients on a regular basis, that when we are marketing, there are a multitude of ways that this can go right, but one of those is keeping things on a spreadsheet so that you know what your best next opportunity is, and that’s why I love screenings as well, because it is something you can integrate into multiple easily multiple different business models that you’re already doing, and so I hope this was helpful. Let me know what questions you’ve got. We will also be talking about staffing services coming up. We also have other podcasts on additional business models like ultrasound mobile, ultrasound fee for service, mobile IDTS, different ways that you can provide these services in your communities, and it’s just a reminder that, even though we’re so niche in the ultrasound business industry, we still have a multitude of ways that we can bring revenue into our practice and create that life and dream that we are looking for. 


Right, we have hundreds and hundreds of sonographers that we’ve worked with over the last over 15 years. Right, tons are at six figures and above. We have now multiple at seven figures and above, so I want you to take that and understand that you have the opportunity to start, grow and scale your own ultrasound business. I hope you take that away from this message today and I will be back with you soon with more information on the ultrasound business industry. Thank you so much for tuning in to today’s episode. If you enjoyed the information, make sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode, and help us reach other sonographers by leaving us a review. We truly appreciate it and until next time I’m over here cheering you on. 

your strategy-obsessed ultrasound business coach.

I'm Jennifer -

Welcome to the Talking Tech podcast, where we answer your questions about legal, marketing, admin, sales, and so much more. After nearly 20 years in the industry running our own mobile ultrasound business and helping techs across the country do the same, I'm so excited to bring you industry insight, mindset, productivity, business tips, and inspiration to help you design the business of your dreams.

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