LeBenger outlines how Summit Medical Group’s merger with CityMD will impact patients (very little)

Summit Medical Group’s merger with New York City-based urgent care system CityMD, announced late Thursday, has been in the works for at least nine months.

Dr. Jeffrey LeBenger, Summit CEO, told ROI-NJ it’s a move that is necessary in order for the system to continue its growth trend of the past several years.

“In this day and age, we needed to look for a capital partner,” he said.

“For us to continue to grow in New Jersey — as you know, there is a lot of consolidation — we needed a capital partner to grow as we have in the past. We grew 15% to 20% revenue percent in the past, so we wanted to continue that.”

The merger, backed by New York City-based private equity firm Warburg Pincus, is not atypical today in the health care industry. Private equity has been making a significant push for the last few years to take over physician and specialty groups.

While the deal is still being cemented, what is known is that LeBenger will maintain his role as CEO of Summit and, for the near future, no rebranding will take place.

The new organizational structure will merge CityMD’s operations with Summit Medical Group, to include Summit Health Management, the overarching management company that provides backend support to Summit’s physicians.

Here’s what that means for Summit and New Jersey, according to LeBenger:

  • No visible changes will take place, and the transition will be smooth;
  • The affiliations doctors at Summit have with health systems such as Atlantic Health, Hackensack Meridian and RWJBarnabas will remain intact;
  • The move gives Summit, currently big in the ambulatory space, a big boost in emergency care;
  • The move will push for greater focus on patients, and preventing readmissions of emergency care — which promotes lower cost of care;
  • It does not affect Summit’s West Coast partnerships in Arizona and Oregon.

The merger is a decision LeBenger didn’t take lightly.

CityMD was looking to capture primary care patients, and SMG’s success with that model in and out of the state, it was a perfect match, LeBenger said.

“We do very well in value-based contracting, so when you grow the primary care attribution, we are always in the top quartile of quality metrics and we always beat the total cost of care against our benchmark,” LeBenger said.

This means insurers and government payors should look positively on the deal.

“Our economic value has always been in our clinical model,” LeBenger said.

“And how we do our clinical model, how we manage the intake of the patient either through urgent care or primary care, is how we manage them to a lower unit cost area,” he said. “We decrease admits, we lower length of stay, we transition care and we address gaps of care. By giving this product to a larger source of patients, we will lower the cost of care and show the value proposition.

“I think the marketplace is looking for this.”

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