How Equipe Zorgbedrijven, a leading provider of specialized care, wrote its own prescription for growth
The group emerged from three specialist healthcare facilities: Xpert Clinic (hand and wrist surgery - www.xpertclinic.nl), Helder Kliniek (proctology and phlebology, or venous disorders - www.helderkliniek.nl) and the Velthuis Kliniek (cosmetic surgery and dermatology - www.velthuiskliniek.nl). Working at 15 locations across the country, Equipe’s 300 employees currently treat about 35,000 patients per year.
“Equipe is one of the leading providers of specialized care in the Netherlands,” says Elderd Land, a Partner with the Gimv Health & Care team and active on the board of directors at Equipe Zorgbedrijven. “It has a strong management team and a good track record for delivering high quality care, using innovation to improve standards. And it does so in an integrated way, cooperating with other care providers.”
Putting patients first with specialized care at the right location
One key to Equipe’s success is its focus on specialization and quality. Elderd explains: “By specializing, medical professionals build up their knowledge. They get more proficient at surgery and treatment. This not only produces a far better outcome and experience for the patient. It also enables doctors to treat a larger number of patients within their area of expertise, eliminating inefficiencies and reducing costs.”
Another key is the group’s hub-and-spoke system. Next to its larger operating theaters, there are an expanding number of smaller outpatient clinics. These offer care before and after surgery: from first diagnosis, through treatment to follow-up therapy. Elderd says this system brings several benefits. “By providing an integrated path from beginning to end, the quality of care can be better monitored and assured. With a network of locations you can also be closer to the patient, which saves them travel and time. And the costs of the consultation offices are lower than for our hubs.”
Three themes for healthy growth
Gimv took a stake in the company in December 2015, becoming its first external investor. Elderd and the team were already well prepared. “Together with Equipe management we defined the growth strategy – organic and non-organic – and mapped out the first steps in an 180-day action plan.” The strategy focuses on geographic expansion, scaling up the hub-and-spoke approach and adding new treatment areas, for example complementing existing hand and wrist surgery with a foot and ankle practice.
Three themes form the foundation for implementing the strategy:
- Centralize what has to be centralized - decentralize what can be decentralized.
To strengthen the organization and improve efficiency some activities will be unified, e.g. data aggregation, establishing best practices and billing. At the same time Equipe gives local teams ownership of certain activities. This empowers people and stimulates entrepreneurship. Both approaches support growth.
- Embed Equipe in the ecosystem in a sustainable way.
Equipe is increasing its cooperation with hospitals and other care providers to be a partner rather than a competitor. It is also fostering a culture designed to attract and retain the best doctors. “Next to good pay, what doctors really want is the opportunity to develop their specialization,” Elderd points out. That is why Equipe is creating fellowships, PhD programs and even partnerships with universities. The combination of specialization and large patient volumes allows Equipe to provide valuable data for scientific research. “Equipe and its doctors further increase their credibility this way.”
- Achieving critical mass for better quality and innovative treatments.
Treating numerous patients allows Equipe to scale up its business and leverage its fixed costs. It also permits greater specialization and creates space for additional sub-specialties. This enhances patient care and makes further innovation possible, allowing Equipe to become a frontrunner in its fields. To improve procedures Equipe uses a proprietary system called Pulse. It measures patient satisfaction and treatment outcomes, and helps in the evaluation of individual doctors to identify areas of improvement.
We are pleased that Gimv is backing our ambitious growth plan. Their accompaniment in our expansion strategy - focusing on growth, operational excellence and getting organized for execution - is therefore very valuable.
Besides providing funds, Gimv is helping to strengthen Equipe Zorgbedrijven and ensure the strategy is implemented. We build a solid structure in the organization, embedding action plans around the three themes (see above). This means working with management and leveraging our network of industry players to pick up and develop new growth opportunities. First in the pipeline are new locations in Eindhoven, finalized in May 2016 and Amsterdam to be realized in 2017.
Would you like to know more about this partnership?
Do not hesitate to contact Elderd Land, Partner with the Gimv Health & Care team, or one of the colleagues.
The Gimv Health & Care team knows the sector well, having invested in several businesses in the services area. Examples include the Almaviva Santé group of 24 specialized clinics (France), the Benedenti dental care group practices in (Belgium), and Eurocept, a unique combination of pharmaceuticals and medical homecare services (the Netherlands).