Partnering for Patient Care: BridgePoint Medical

Content provided by The O&P EDGE
Current Issue - Free Subscription - Free eNewsletter - Advertise

BridgePoint offers O&P clinicians a new kind of partnership.

You are an O&P clinician, and perhaps you're getting tired of spending so much time "paper pushing" and "bean counting." You wish you had more time to focus on your patients and referral sources. In fact, your chief value to the business lies in your clinical skills and expertise, so your time and effort is best spent with your patients and referral sources.

But if you're an O&P business owner, you may not be able to escape this administrative and accounting work, or even the task of overseeing your staff members who handle these functions. To add to the pain, reimbursement issues and government regulations seem to get more complex by the day.

Are there ways to off-load some of this burden?

Independent O&P networks provide strength in numbers for purchasing power and negotiating contracts and often provide other services for members. Outsourcing payroll and other accounting/administrative functions is another option.

Some companies, such as New England Orthotic and Prosthetic Systems LLC (NEOPS), headquartered in Branford, Connecticut, offer co-ownership and profit-sharing in which clinicians have some of the advantages of both ownership and employment. (Editor's note: For more information, see "New England O and P Systems Company Grows through Co-Ownership")

Innovative Concept

Jim Clifton, BridgePoint Medical
Jim Clifton, BridgePoint Medical

A "new kid on the block," BridgePoint Medical, based in Lexington, Kentucky, offers co-ownership with an innovative business model. The company acquires a controlling interest in O&P firms, and the previous owner(s) maintains between 25 percent and 49 percent of the business. The percentage share retained by the original owner is arranged on an individual basis depending on such factors as how long the owner wants to continue with the company, the size of the market, the value of the practice, and the market potential, among others. BridgePoint then handles almost all of the administrative, accounting, and other business functions, freeing the local operator/owner to concentrate on patient care and referral sources. The acquired firms are set up as standalone limited liability corporations (LLCs).

The local operator/owner receives a market-based salary plus a percentage of the profits based on his share of the business. "A local owner who has built his business and really knows the community he serves has a level of commitment and dedication to the company that we value very highly," says Jim Clifton, Bridgepoint partner and chief operating officer. "Plus he or she has a great local reputation and recognition and has a vested interest in keeping that reputation intact. However, their success often also has become their liability. The business has grown to the point of straining their efforts to manage the ever-increasing documentation and business-management requirements. That's where we come in and implement clinical, business, and technical efficiencies to allow the practitioner/owner to once again focus on what created their success in the first place.

"This also ensures that we get great feedback from our partners," Clifton continues. "Our system leverages this local operator/owner feedback to keep improving. It's not like we have a recipe and then bake the cookies; this is a dynamic, forward-going entity that's evolving along with the changing market."

If a business owner or operator decides to turn over business operations to BridgePoint, it doesn't mean he or she is handing over complete control of the company.

Gustin
Gustin

"The operator/owners stay involved; they still have a stake and overall say in the business," says Brian Gustin, CP, president-elect of the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA), who recently joined the executive team as chief clinical officer. "They truly are partners, not just managers of an acquired practice." Operator/owners also contribute to continuing improvement of the company's patient care quality and business efficiencies. "We can look at the individual experiences of each operation, see what works best, and incorporate those best-practice models into all the other practices so that everyone benefits from the experience of those who are excelling," Gustin explains.

BridgePoint is honing its business model and is going into an energetic acquisition mode, with potential to grow rapidly in 2008 and beyond, according to Clifton. The company currently has four locations and has acquired two other O&P firms: Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates (POA), Lexington, Kentucky; and Reynolds Prosthetic and Orthotic, Maryville, Tennessee.

BridgePoint was formed in 2004 by Clint McKinley, president. Both McKinley and his partner Clifton came to O&P from outside the industry—McKinley from the title insurance industry and Clifton from the software technology arena. The two saw the O&P scene with fresh eyes. "We talked with people in O&P and found out what works and what doesn't work," Clifton says.

As to the nuts and bolts, BridgePoint handles billing, insurance claims, collections, vendor payments, payroll, and other accounting and business functions. The company provides procedures, office staff training, employee manuals, coding manuals, and other necessary business systems and functions along with a full range of employee benefits.

The operator/owner's office staff does the front-end work of coding and verification of benefits. However, BridgePoint provides Medicare-based coding and documentation procedures and guidelines and occasionally audits for proper coding procedures.

BridgePoint develops an annual budget and financial targets with the local operator/owner, which is reviewed monthly to assess performance. "For example, if component cost is running higher than expected, we see if the budget needs to be adjusted upward... [if we can] obtain components that are as good or better from another source at a lower cost," explains Clifton.

However, BridgePoint does not dictate what components and supplies the operator/owner can or cannot buy, Clifton says. "We have arrangements with vendors that we think offer the best quality at the best price, but the practitioner can buy elsewhere if desired. Patient care and quality is always dictated by the practitioner.

"We tailor our needs to that of the practitioner, since each practice is unique," Clifton adds. "We keep in mind that the goal is to free up the practitioner to focus on better patient care. That's really the endgame."

Satisfied Partners

Reynolds
Reynolds

The operator/owners of BridgePoint's acquired companies are pleased with the results of the acquisitions.

John Reynolds, CPO, owner-operator of Reynolds Prosthetics and Orthotics, says he especially appreciates BridgePoint taking over responsibility for administrative and accounting functions such as accounts receivable and payable and human-resource responsibilities. "They've taken that headache away from me and freed up my time," Reynolds says. "I now have more time to spend with patients. They have more resources than I had for marketing, so I feel that will help the business too." He also likes the partnering relationship. "It's a good concept," he says.

Ralph Strano, CPO, of Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates also noted how such a partnership has given him the opportunity to focus on his patients.

"Since BridgePoint Medical acquired our business on July 17, 2006, I have been able to concentrate more on patient care and the supervision over office matters and my team of practitioners and technicians," he says. Strano adds that the business has expanded since the merger, and that "this probably would not have happened without the efforts of BridgePoint Medical."

Strano
Strano

In today's complex business environment, Strano says he especially appreciates having another entity taking over responsibility for insurance and patient claims, payroll, bill paying, and providing assistance with obtaining insurance contracts. BridgePoint also assisted the company in the process for obtaining facility accreditation with the American Board for Certification in Prosthetics, Orthotics & Pedorthics Inc. (ABC).

"BridgePoint always keeps me up-to-date on any problem situations," says Strano, "and I always have a say in decision making. BridgePoint has been a big part thus far with the success of POA." Strano likes the partnership arrangement in which he maintains a proportional share of the business as operator/owner, vice president, and patient care director. "There is still room for this business to grow, and my plan, as I told BridgePoint from the beginning, is to be here a long time doing what I do best—working with patients to improve their lives through the means of prosthetics and orthotics."

For more information, visit www.bp-medical.com

Miki Fairley is a contributing editor for The O&P EDGE and a freelance writer based in southwest Colorado. She can be contacted via e-mail at miki.fairley@gmail.com

Bookmark and Share