More than twenty-five years ago, Northern California PET Imaging Center became the first non-research-based provider of the newly developed Positron Emission Tomography (PET) technology. PET Technology had to prove its worth to physicians, their patients, and health insurance companies. NCPIC was on the forefront of that push, and remains today as one of the premier independent molecular imaging providers in the country.
Thanks to the vision of a radiology group and the two competing hospitals in town, Dignity Health and Sutter Health, a scanner and cyclotron were purchased, and NCPIC opened its doors as a not-for-profit organization, offering this important technology to benefit the local community. This symbiotic business model, a pooling of resources between competing healthcare systems, provided access to a highly beneficial but expensive medical technology that either would have been hard pressed to purchase on their own.
With a new governing board, NCPIC has emerged from its original sponsors as a truly independent provider of molecular imaging. It continues to provide important diagnostic information to evaluate cancer, neurologic and cardiac conditions. In addition, NCPIC now plays a role in the emergence of new drugs used in the diagnosis of these diseases with its Optimal Tracers radiochemistry lab, providing clinical and preclinical radiotracers to researchers in both academic and pharmaceutical settings.
As a result of NCPIC’s early efforts and collaborative work with academic and community health centers throughout the country, nearly every hospital and radiology group now provides PET/molecular imaging. One would imagine that a small independent center may not survive in this era of healthcare system consolidation, but NCPIC has continued to differentiate itself and remain on the cutting edge of this field being the first to offer new molecular imaging technologies to the community. Currently, NCPIC has expanded the use of PET to providing scans to evaluate recurrent prostate cancer, detect the presence of amyloid plaque in patients with suspected Alzheimer’s disease, and the evaluation of neuroendocrine tumors.
NCPIC is continuing the mission under which its doors were first opened, the commitment to remain at the apex of technology in the industry, and the ongoing dedication to research and innovation, not only utilizing the latest advances in molecular imaging, but forging those advances, as well.
“Our success was difficult to come by and maintaining our independence has been challenging. But, what keeps us relevant and thriving is our exceptional and cohesive team that continues to innovate and push the boundaries of this exciting field” stated Ruth Tesar, NCPIC’s CEO.