EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2014 Gulf Coast Area Awards

Health Care

AWARD RECIPIENT

hou_eoy_TJFarnsworthTJ Farnsworth
Founder and CEO
SightLine Health
www.sightlinehealth.com

 

TJ Farnsworth didn’t dream of being an entrepreneur as a child growing up in Houston. But he fully recognizes the value of independent thinking and how it shaped his path toward becoming a business leader.
When he began SightLine Health at his kitchen table, he was young and single. He was also confident that he wouldn’t fail. That doesn’t mean it was easy to build his company. He burned through his savings and amassed more than $300,000 in credit card debt, which he was using to fund his business.
He had a gritty sense of determination, but eventually realized it wasn’t his passion that was the problem. The company was working with gynecologists to develop outpatient centers treating uterine fibroids. It’s an underserved market in healthcare, but the treatments the company was performing were largely cash pay.
And despite being offered in places such as the Mayo Clinic, the manufacturer of the equipment had not yet convinced insurance companies to reimburse for the treatment.
In 2007, it became clear to Farnsworth that the manufacturer did not have the expertise or the financing to conduct the clinical trials necessary to convince private insurance companies to pay for the treatments. At that point, Farnsworth knew the technology was doomed.
Farnsworth, founder and CEO, decided it was time to make a drastic change and started SightLine Health, which took a largely sterile and unfriendly treatment in radiation oncology and created something that was more centered on the patient.
Facilities are built with warm colors and wood floors and customer service is excellent. They are small things that are often taken for granted in healthcare. But the gestures make a big difference for patients going through some of the most difficult moments in life.


 FINALISTS

hou_eoy_TaseerBadarTaseer Badar
President and CEO
Altus Healthcare Management LP
www.altushealthsystem.com

 

After experiencing success with his first company, ZT Wealth, Taseer Badar knew he had the entrepreneur factor and founded Altus Healthcare Management LP. He capitalized on an opportunity to bring the first stand-up MRI to the Houston area with one of his investors.
Altus quickly expanded to in-home hospice, surgery centers, sleep clinics and emergency facilities. Most recently, Altus opened its first dental center and hospital, and has expanded into the vitamin distribution and wellness sectors.
The Altus business model is based on a vertically integrated concept using Badar’s investment firm to finance new facilities, its network of partner physicians to provide full service to patients and management services to manage physicians’ back office operations.
One of the reasons Altus has been successful is its ability to grow organically through its network of professional physicians in more than six medical specialty practices. Badar used the economic downturn to his advantage, not only by recruiting top talent in the healthcare field to join Altus, but by using his firm’s stellar financial history to secure funding that his competitors have been unable to access.
There is a great deal of uncertainty in healthcare as the ongoing efforts at reform continue to evolve, but Badar has mitigated that risk through his ability to make strategic connections with regulators.
As CEO and president, Badar strongly believes that people are the driving force behind his success and he tries to replicate himself in the people he recruits and hires. He has tirelessly worked to recruit top people from the industry to build his core team and believes that each member will bring their strengths to the table to make the company great.
The Altus brand has expanded into a national name that has grown into the nutrition and dental offerings by applying the same successful business model from the healthcare side to the other operations.


hou_eoy_AsitChoksiAsit Choksi
Founder and CEO
Greater Houston Physicians Medical Association
www.ghpma.org

 

When Asit Choksi began his practice as an oncologist 22 years ago, his primary goal was not to make money — it was to ensure the best available care was delivered to his patients at an affordable cost.
He believed if this goal was achieved, he would be sustained. The methodology served Choksi and Greater Houston Physicians Medical Association well and continues to be at the core of how the company operates, how patient care is structured and how future growth is planned.
GHPMA has grown into a company that reflects Choksi’s vision and his physicians and staff support him as they partner together to bring positive change to the medical profession.
Choksi created the Houston Physicians Medical Association in 1997 and led it successfully for 12 years. In 2009, he and 19 of the original physicians from HPMA founded GHPMA, bringing to life Choksi’s vision of a unique model of clinical services provided to patients in convenient one-stop shopping locations.
Choksi hires and retains top physicians by providing top salaries in comparison to competitors. The founder and CEO also allows for flexible work hours and team scheduling, which enables physicians to not be burdened by unforgiving work hours. Physicians are also able to participate in profit sharing and are not required to sign employment contracts or worry about physician management fees, all of which increase their take-home income.
Choksi organizes periodic meetings with employees at his personal residence, which aid in building trust and camaraderie among the physicians and staff.
Choksi encourages participation in charitable work, providing opportunities for his employees to work as a team and get to know each other outside of the workplace. He also sponsors employees in their efforts to attend various medical conferences and other group trips for team building.


hou_eoy_AndrewKnizleyAndrew Knizley
CEO
Houston Orthopedic & Spine Hospital, LLC
www.surgicalhospital.com

 

Foundation Surgical Hospital was struggling when it reached out to Loughlin Management Partners + Co. for help. At the time, the facility had mounting vendor debt and cash sufficient for one last payroll. Vendors were withholding supply deliveries and the hospital faced impending bankruptcy.
Andrew Knizley was an operations leader with LM+Co. and had served in various financial and operational roles at rural hospitals. So he had extensive knowledge and experience working in hospitals that were undergoing challenging circumstances.
Knizley quickly determined that the hospital, which today is known as Houston Orthopedic & Spine Hospital, LLC (HOSH), was failing due to low case volume, insurance reimbursement challenges and generally poor operational performance.
LM+Co. addressed restructuring the hospital’s lender and vendor debt while Knizley set to work improving operational performance. He and his team used competent analysis of the financial data and an unyielding honesty with all stakeholders to guide the hospital back from the brink of bankruptcy.
LM+Co. completed a successful temporary restructuring of the hospital’s debt by November 2008 and moved on to other projects. Knizley stayed on to become the hospital’s CEO and worked on building a successful enterprise.
Knizley is transparent in all his dealings with the staff and openly educates employees about the company’s financials so he or she can gain an appreciation for the business and better understand his or her impact on the company.
Transparency is one of four concepts Knizley employs in the stewardship of HOSH. The other three concepts involve a keen interest in people, honesty and trust. Knizley takes the time to learn about and understand the individuals who make up the hospital’s staff. He then encourages them to learn as much as they can about their co-workers.


hou_eoy_JoeFreudenbergerJoe Freudenberger
CEO
OakBend Medical Center
www.oakbendmedcenter.org

 

Joe Freudenberger came upon an organization that was not in a good place when he joined OakBend Medical Center in 2007. At the time, the hospital was distressed and experiencing negative cash flow.
Fortunately, Freudenberger’s financial acumen allowed him to begin to turn around the hospital’s financial situation. His vision went beyond creating a financially stable organization that would then be absorbed by a larger healthcare network.
Fort Bend County is made up of mostly low- to middle-income workers. In order to maintain an independent community hospital in this area, Freudenberger knew he needed to find a way to attract a more affluent population to help cover the costs of the poorer indigenous population. To achieve this end, Freudenberger, the center’s CEO, focused on three concepts.
He wanted to expand the footprint, the scope of services and strive for service excellence above what the hospital already had achieved.
As part of expanding the footprint and scope of services, OakBend opened its Williams Way Campus in 2009. Unfortunately, economic hardship following the financial crisis of 2008 hit the Richmond community hard and the company struggled to get the campus off to a good start. Instead of the knee-jerk reaction to cut back costs, however, Freudenberger took a risk and doubled resources at the new facility.
He realized that cutting corners would only impair the hospital’s ability to succeed long term through attracting new patients and physicians. This out-of-the-box thinking for a “financial guy” paid off. The campus has flourished both in terms of patients and being financially viable.
OakBend has also benefited greatly from Freudenberger’s belief in building collaborative partnerships with other healthcare providers.
In areas where the hospital does not have sufficient demand or cannot afford to maintain it on a full-time basis, partnerships are formed with other clinics or hospitals to ensure the services needed are provided.