New construction, destination marketing and growth: The strategy behind Borland Groover's merger with a St. Augustine practice
Jacksonville-based Borland Groover, a digestive health specialty clinic, has acquired GI Associates of St. Augustine, expanding the company's reach across Northeast Florida: The deal includes GI Associate’s locations in St. Johns, Flagler and Putnam counties.
To learn more about the deal and Borland Groover’s strategy for the future, the Business Journal spoke with Borland Groover CEO Dr. Kyle Etzkorn.
Tell me about the merger?
It’s a merger between two groups which share a common goal of making North Florida have the highest standard of digestive care. The merger allows our already existing members down in St. Augustine to join with the folks from GI Associates and allow us to really focus on St. Johns County and into northern Volusia County. It will also allow us to construct a state-of-the-art digestive treatment center, which will be based in St. Augustine off of S.R. 207.
How did the deal come together?
Like all mergers, it took numerous conversations. What was clear from the get-go, was when I spoke with Dr. Santiago Rosado – who is the lead with that group – we both shared the common beliefs of the highest quality of care, commitment to controlling of costs and constant vigilance as far as the quality metrics with respect to the performance of our physicians and patient outcomes.
What are the logistics behind a merger between two practices?
The upside of it is since we all share very similar virtues and values, there’s not really going to be much of a logistics issue when it comes to the spirit of the practice. From a logistics perspective, probably the biggest challenge is in the business office and medical records. They [GI Associates] are on one platform for their electronic medical records and they have a system for billing – ours is totally different. They’ll have to migrate into our system, which means there’s a need to train office staff on the practice management software and training clinicians on electronic medical records.
What are the benefits for Borland Groover, GI Associates and your patients?
Well, for us it’s an access issue: With the merger, it allows more opportunities for patients to gain access. We’ve clearly identified St. Johns County and the counties immediately adjacent as future growth centers, where there’s going to be further developments and more population moving in. It allows us to build our new center and be able to serve what will be true growth over the next 10 to 15 years.
What does that growth look like?
One of the things that I’ve been working at is trying to become more of a destination clinic. We’ve seen an increasing number of patients coming from Georgia to our facility – and also patients who come from the Lake City area and come from as far as the Orlando market.
So, again, it’s increasing the presence, increasing the brand. Really, it will put us in a position to truly become a destination clinic for the southeast United States in the long run. Our long-term vision is to see us building further centers which are combined treatment and diagnostic facilities throughout the market we control. So, I would see us doing something in the next several years along the I-95 corridor in the southern part of the city – along with more expansion focused in Clay County and certainly expansion focused in the Nassau/Georgia market.
How has Covid-19 affected your practice or this merger?
One of the challenges with Covid-19, especially when we had the lockdown, was the challenges of taking care of patients with GI pathology. I told my staff and our physicians on numerous occasions: even though we have a pandemic, we still have very lethal digestive diseases which are occurring constantly.
The clinic has done an outstanding job taking care of the patients of North Florida with digestive health. We went on the telemedicine platform overnight, and at the peak we were seeing about 50% of our patients on telemedicine. We managed to keep our surgical centers available for emergent procedures when the lockdown occurred.
We’ve had the typical business issues that all businesses in health care have, but this pandemic has been fascinating because there is no playbook – and literally a day doesn’t go by without a new problem arising, and you really have to use your thinking cap to try and figure out how to resolve the problem.