Even if venture capitalists favor investing in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies over healthcare service providers, medical practices and other physician-run enterprises still have an old standby: the joint venture.
And with hospital executives growing weary of fighting with doctors, today joint ventures may be more attractive than ever.
"I think hospital systems are more receptive to the (idea of a) partnership with their own physicians than they used to be," says Flint Beseker, managing director of strategic relationships at GE Healthcare Financial Services, a Chicago-based division of General Electric Co. that serves large health delivery networks.
A case in point: 38 physicians from the Green Clinic of Ruston, La., formed a strategic partnership with Christus Schumpert Health System based in Shreveport, La.
Christus Schumpert, an affiliate of the Christus Health network of Catholic hospitals, had designs on the Ruston market, some 60 miles out of Shreveport, where the multispecialty Green Clinic was planning to develop a surgical hospital. So Christus Schumpert brought the financing, and the 38-physician group provided the medical staff.
On Oct. 3, they opened the Green Clinic Surgical Hospital, a 31,000-square-foot facility with 10 overnight beds, four operating rooms and a cardiac catheterization laboratory. Physicians own 75% of the surgical hospital.
"There's a vision that this facility will expand," says Green Clinic CEO Robert Goodwill. "Having a large acute care partner makes it more likely that we will be able to expand."
Goodwill adds: "If we had to do it again, we would absolutely choose to partner again."