The merger-and-acquisition spree that in recent years has swept away hundreds of once independent physician practices continued unabated in the second quarter.
Driven by the need to upgrade computers to meet escalating federal demands to measure quality, Tyler-based East Texas Anesthesiology Associates in June joined forces with U.S. Anesthesia Partners, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based firm controlled by the private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe.
It was at least the fourth major acquisition USAP made in Texas in recent years, bringing the company's total clinicians in that part of the country to more than 800. “This partnership with USAP gives ETAA immediate access to the infrastructure and expertise that we would not be able to build ourselves,” said Dr. Shawn Thomas, president of the East Texas practice.
It was only one of 22 physician practices of varying sizes that were acquired in the quarter, representing about 12% of all healthcare deals logged, according to data compiled in Modern Healthcare's Mergers & Acquisitions database.
Thomas said the anesthesiologists in his practice also were attracted to USAP's singular focus on their specialty and its commitment to using data to improve clinical quality. The fact that the deal, whose terms were not disclosed, allowed the practitioners to become partners in the larger firm and control governance of the practice made the loss of independence easier to swallow. “We are gaining valuable insight into the rapidly changing reimbursement environment and IT infrastructure that will position us for continued success,” Thomas said.
USAP acquired Greater Houston Anesthesiology in 2012 and Pinnacle Anesthesia Consultants in Dallas in 2014. Like the East Texas practice, Pinnacle's 550 physicians and other advanced clinicians foresaw the need for millions of dollars of investment in new electronic health records and revenue-cycle systems to provide payers with the quality data they wanted to fully reimburse the practice for care, said Dr. Thomas Swygert, a Pinnacle physician leader who is on the board of USAP.