By Richard Cowart
Twenty years ago, the rage in Nashville was Physician Practice Management Companies (PPMCs). Nashville-based Phycor was the gold standard, and Tennessee was home to a PPMC in virtually every specialty. Examples included Women’s Health Partners (OB), Ortho Link (orthopedics), Physician Resource Group (ophthalmology) and Medisphere (OB). The area was so hot that PPMC roll ups were being listed on the New York Stock Exchange as management teams were being selected. For the PPMC sector, the ascent was rapid and the decline was equally rapid.
Since the flurry of activities in the 1990s, a few PPMC start-ups have succeeded by modifying their business model. Nashville-based PathGroup, which became a clinical and molecular laboratory company, and Specialty Care Network (orthopedic), which morphed into HealthGrades.com, are excellent examples. However, for the most part, the physician sector has remained a cottage industry, with physician options principally being to join integrated health systems as employees or large physician groups. In the case of health system employment, the physician anxiety was always loss of control. In the case of large physician groups, the weakness was capitalization. Many have seen physician consolidation as a prime target, but few have successfully executed.
Against this robust backdrop, the announcement last week that Claritas Capital had made a significant financial commitment to Emergency Physician Partners was highly noted. Emergency Physician Partners (EPP) was founded by Nashvillian Chris Kelly (CEO), Brady Sturgeon (CFO) and Brian White (COO). The management team brings a distinguished resume from such health care stalwarts as AmSurg, US Anesthesia Partners, LifePoint Health and Triad Hospitals. However, it is the target opportunity that may have received the most notice.