EPMG catapults itself into broad business expansion

San Francisco-How do you achieve instant market growth without beginning at square one? In the case of Emergency Physicians Medical Group (EPMG), it seems, you get acquired by someone who is already there and you build on those strengths. In this case, that someone is regional hospital powerhouse Catholic Healthcare West.

San Francisco-based EPMG announced late last year that Catholic Healthcare would be acquiring the physician staffing concern and would operate the medical group as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The acquisition is a coup for EPMG because the medical group expects to significantly expand its physician staffing operations in Nevada and California where it already has a large presence. It is also likely to become a force in Nevada and Arizona, where San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare also operates hospitals.

EPMG manages 27 hospital EDs in California, Nevada, and Hawaii. Not-for-profit Catholic Healthcare operates 37 acute-care facilities in California, Nevada, and Arizona.

"In terms of size and depth, Catholic Healthcare offers EPMG substantial benefits. Its resources will be key to our success in expanding where we have regional strength," Kate Lawlor, RN, EMPG's vice president of operations recently told The Managed Care Emergency Department recently.

For Catholic Healthcare, the acquisition of the medical group will allow the hospital concern a closer working relationship with its emergency physicians. The hoped-for objective will be to achieve close partnerships that will result in lower costs, according to Kevin Fickenscher, MD, Catholic Healthcare's senior vice president and chief medical officer.

The combination is significant because it comes at a time of industry consolidation in emergency medicine, according to Michael Williams, president of The Abaris Group, an emergency medicine management consulting firm based in Walnut Creek, CA.

Last year, Canadian transportation giant Laidlaw, Inc. acquired Dallas, TX-based EmCare Holdings, which staffs and manages EDs under contracts with some 1800 physicians and 162 hospitals in 21 states. Three months later, the company also acquired Spectrum Emergency Care, the ED management business of St. Louis, MO-based Spectrum Healthcare Services. Spectrum Emergency operates 185 contract in 35 states.

In EPMGs case, the alliance signals that EPMG may broaden its product line by getting into additional areas of physician practice management beyond the scope of the emergency physician specialty, Williams notes.