Merger Brings O&P Services to Clinics Nationwide

On June 28, Chicago private-equity firms Water Street Healthcare Partners and Wind Point Partners announced the merger of two of their respective companies – Physiotherapy Associates and Benchmark Medical. The merged company, to be known as Physiotherapy Associates, is aiming to become the new national leader in outpatient rehabilitation services and is expected to generate combined revenues of $420 million and employ 5,500 people.

Physiotherapy Associates sets itself apart from preexisting rehabilitation firms by offering a number of different rehabilitative services in each of their 800 clinics throughout the United States, including comprehensive physical therapy and orthotic and prosthetic services.

Perfect timing

Bill Floyd, former chief executive officer of Benchmark Medical and recently appointed chief executive officer of the newly formed Physiotherapy Associates, called attention, in a press release, to the impact the aging U.S. population and their increasing need for rehabilitative services played in the merge.

“As U.S. demographics shift to an increasingly older population, the demand for rehabilitation services will rise,” Floyd said. “Physiotherapy Associates will set the bar for the industry as the only national company that can offer people specialized expertise in physical therapy, orthotic and prosthetic services at a local level.”

During the next 15 years, the number of people older than the age of 45 will increase by 20%. People in this age group then become prime candidates for physical therapy, Floyd added that more than ever, people need access to consistent and personalized care.

“Our advantage as a combined company will be our ability to serve local communities more effectively because we understand their specific needs and, at the same time, have an extensive, national network of support and resources that we can leverage,” he said.

Impact on rehabilitative services

handshakeFloyd hopes the impact of the merge on the industry is a positive one adding that the shared mission and vision of Benchmark Medical and Physiotherapy Associates will add to the success of the new corporation.

“There is a preeminent focus on the importance of quality care,” Floyd told O&P Business News. “I think we both share an expectation that our clinicians will…take advantage of all the opportunities that are out there to better serve our patients.”

Additionally, as a combined entity, clinicians will be encouraged to take a leadership role in raising and in some respects defining the standards of what constitutes quality care. With their dominant size, Floyd said, Physiotherapy Associates will be able to play an expanded leadership role in the market.

“We talk a lot about the therapy experience versus the therapy treatment,” Floyd said of the shared values of the joining companies. “It is important to us that when a patient comes in one of our clinics that from the moment they sign in to the time they get their physical therapy to the time that they leave, their interaction with everybody in that clinic, not just the therapist, is a positive one.”

Implementing changes

Amidst the excitement of the merger and all of the behind-the-scenes administrative changes, Floyd emphasizes that the focus is still on the quality of patient care.

“One of the guiding principles for this merger has been…striving with all due diligence to have this be as seamless as possible down at the clinic level,” he said.

Some changes are already being seen in various markets where there is an overlap in care, he explained. The benefit of both companies being in the same market is that clinicians can be placed where the need is, and with over 800 clinics, there are a lot of opportunities for movement and spreading service.

As of press time, the official kick-off meeting was planned for the end of July for management of both entities.

Offered services

Despite the planned expansion of offered physical therapy services, O&P services will remain strategically an important part of Physiotherapy Associates' portfolio.Despite the planned expansion of offered physical therapy services, Floyd resolves that “O&P business is and will remain strategically an important part of our portfolio.”

Additionally, the combined efforts of advanced physical therapy offerings coupled with O&P services offers the unique chance for partnerships between O&P practitioners and physical therapists.

“The expansion of rehabilitative services within Benchmark and Physiotherapy Associates will allow us [to develop] a better base within O&P to work collaboratively with physical therapists,” Aaron Luther, vice president, O&P for Physiotherapy Associates told O&P Business News.

He also added that this would help to develop a “better base from a company culture and physician standpoint.”

“We operate O&P services in 12 states so I think that certainly, in those states where we have an O&P presence and O&P practitioners, synergies that are available between the physical therapy locations and the O&P will be maximized,” Luther said.

All 800 clinics will offer the same types of services, although some clinics, based on geography and other factors, do have specific market specialties.

“While there might be a demand for [a specialty] in every clinic, our ability to staff [for that specialty] is driven by our ability to recruit those people,” Floyd said.

Additional market specialties include pediatric physical therapy and women’s health physical therapy.— by Jennifer Hoydicz

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