Priorities in Partnerships

The Competitive Landscape

Priorities in Partnerships

By Thomas A. Quigley, MD, Founder, Quigley Eye Specialists

In Florida, we are witnessing consolidation in health care, often fueled by private equity backing. It is happening in dentistry, orthopedics and dermatology—and eye care. For many health care professionals, private equity (PE) affiliations offer an injection of support services and capital—and others are disappointed that they have lost control over the practice they have built. The cautionary tale here is that it is important to do the homework into the philosophy and culture of the PE organization you are considering.

In my case, I started Quigley Eye 32 years ago with zero patients and one employee. We’ve grown to become the largest eye care services provider in the state. We have refined our culture, referring to our patients as “guests,” and we strive to provide the highest-quality care. When we made the decision to partner with a PE firm, we searched hard for one that understood our management and business model and would support it—not change it fundamentally.

Nearly two years ago, we found that partner in New Harbor Capital, which has provided the guidance and capital necessary to help Quigley Eye Specialists invest in the most advanced technology, improve internal processes and put important infrastructure in place so that we may continue to build upon what we love most: excellent patient care. We did the legwork, talking with other health care practitioners who have partnered with the firm.

The goal with a PE partnership is to create a win-win for everyone—and in our case, the patient is at the center of that circle. That is why I am on the board of directors—because we all recognize that it’s important to have that clinical expertise as part of any decisions made.

The partnership has already been a beneficial one. For example, we are in the process of building a surgery center in Naples. These are capital-intensive projects, and without PE backing, we couldn’t do it.