Published in Breaking News

Chicago PE firm invests in Grand Rapids Ophthalmology

BY Thursday, February 23, 2017 11:45am

An investment by a Chicago private equity firm provides Grand Rapids Ophthalmology the capital to expand its footprint across Michigan and potentially into neighboring states.

As part of the deal announced this morning, Sterling Partners with its investment formed a medical services organization, Great Lakes MSO, “to support GRO’s local expansion and larger-scale growth through Great Lakes’ resources, management team, and capital.”

“For more than 30 years, Grand Rapids Ophthalmology has delivered exceptional service and the highest-quality care to our patients,” said David Barrett, a doctor at Grand Rapids Ophthalmology. “The brand and reputation we’ve worked so hard to build will not change, and now we have an exciting opportunity to further solidify our strong market position. With the additional resources and expertise we now have through our partnership with Sterling, we’ll be able to continue to invest in our employees and the most advanced technologies and systems to ultimately benefit patients not just in West Michigan but well beyond.”

Formed in 1982, Grand Rapids Ophthalmology has nine offices in West Michigan and employs 18 optometrists and 11 ophthalmologists.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although Sterling Partners committed to additional investments beyond the initial amount, according to Grand Rapids Ophthalmology Executive Director Bob Wolford.

Grand Rapids Ophthalmology’s initial focus is to expand in Michigan. The ophthalmology group will then look at the potential to move into contiguous states through new locations or possibly acquisitions, Wolford said.

“The whole focus of this transaction is going to be to continue the growth that Grand Rapids Ophthalmology has enjoyed over the years, and some of that growth will be normal growth like we had in the past, where we add an office and some new doctors to our delivery systems, but some of it is going to be by continuing to look to add in partnerships with other existing practices, both in Michigan and even maybe beyond,” he said.

The Sterling Partners also gives Grand Rapids Ophthalmology expertise to better adjust the business to changing reimbursement practices that favor larger organizations and reward care providers for quality and outcomes, Wolford said.

Changes in reimbursement, intended to drive up quality and improve costs, require care providers to go far deeper to gather, analyze and report patient data to payers, plus monitor outcomes faster “and to make changes and be more responsive to the patient’s needs and health care system’s needs,” Wolford said.

“It’s part of the future,” he said. “This allows us to have the expertise to be a significant player and be a contributor to the solution as time plays out.”

Sterling Partners, with more than $4 billion in assets under management, invests in middle-market companies involved in health care and business services.

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