First PE-backed documents envision national expansion, home health as ‘high-growth sector’

Hospice News Editor Jim Parker also contributed to this story.

Philadelphia-based First Docs — physician-led internal medicine — is poised to expand into several states after securing private equity backing from Webster Equity Partners.

The investment is particularly notable because of the type of healthcare providers First Docs currently partners with: hospices, palliative care and home health providers, among others. Financial terms of Webster’s investment were not disclosed.

On its own, the organization – which was founded by CEO Dr. Sanjay Bhatia in 2010 – also provides primary care, hospital services, case management and surgical co-management through its proprietary 360 Community Medicine Care Model .

“The 360 ​​Community Medicine model describes what I believe is a sector of internal medicine that can be practiced in any community in the country, where you accept all comers, regardless of insurance, so that we open channels immediately to the underserved,” Bhatia said Home Health Care News sister site Hospice News. “The best athletes cross-train, and so do doctors. We believe that cross-training our doctors makes you a very stable doctor and prevents any burnout. Patients are doing better and doctors are better.

In addition to its own physician offices and hospitals, the company provides care in clinics, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, and long-term acute care hospitals.

The company’s clinicians monitor patients to determine when they become suitable for home health, hospice or palliative care, Bhatia said. First Docs partners with these providers to provide continuity of care in collaboration with medical directors.

“There are a number of home health agencies in any particular community,” Bhatia said. “So first, obviously, is patient choice. We respect patient choice and local partnerships as long as it is a home health agency that has an open line of communication directly with us. So we have a 24-hour answering service where you can talk to a doctor at any time. We make sure that these are agencies that are comfortable with that kind of oversight.

Although the company does not disclose the names of the providers they work with, Bhatia told Hospice News that their partners include some large, national companies as well as smaller, community-based providers.

First Docs sees home health as a “high-growth sector,” Bhatia said.

“There’s a lot of care available in the home, and we’re committed to remote patient monitoring, which we’re trying to bring to [skilled nursing and assisted living] levels too,” he said. “I think that will certainly help us at home.”

Prior to the transaction with Webster, First Docs operated primarily in eastern Pennsylvania and central New Jersey regions. The company will now rapidly expand into new markets starting this quarter of the year, according to Bhatia.

The company will initially focus on moving into Rhode Island, upstate New York, Connecticut, the Carolinas and Tennessee. The investment will also support the development of an in-house predictive analytics platform designed to guide patients to the right services based on their identified needs, Bhatia said.

Webster Equity Partners focuses its investments on the healthcare space in the range of $20 million to $200 million. The firm’s portfolio companies include Bristol Hospice and home care company Comfort Keepers.

Business research firm Pitchbook ranked Webster second on its list of top private investors in senior and disability care, tied with Audux Group. Chicago-based Vistria Group, which owns various home care organizations, took the top spot.

“I am excited about the partnership that allows us to further expand nationally,” said Bhatia. “The expanded footprint means we will be able to positively impact and serve more patients across the continuum of care, furthering our mission to deliver high-quality internal medicine across a variety of healthcare settings.”

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