Seeing a need for better ancillary service providers in the post-acute care space, operator Trilogy Health Services last week formally launched its subsidiary business – branded Synchrony Health Services – on a broader platform.
As part of the launch, Synchrony plans to initiate its lab services division in the second financial quarter of this year, according to a statement from Louisville, Ky.-based Trilogy. The division will provide routine and stat labs, including chemistry, hematology, coagulation and urinalysis.
Trilogy Co-Founder and former CEO Randall Bufford signed on to lead the ancillary service provider as its service lines continue to grow, including efforts to raise capital with third party investors.
Synchrony will now include the following brands under its umbrella: Synchrony Pharmacy, Synchrony Rehabilitation, Synchrony Wellness Pharmacy and Synchrony Lab.
The ancillary services business was originally created in 2019 to boost “clinical excellence” via Trilogy-owned pharmacy, therapy and other clinical services. The pharmacy arm currently services more than 500 skilled nursing, assisted living and other types of health care facilities, for a combined 35,000 licensed beds in 14 states.
Synchrony Rehab provides services to 175 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.
“What I discovered as I dug in a little bit over here is we’re not collaborating internally for the clinical outcomes that we want to have,” added Bufford. “Back last summer, we said, look, we got to step this up. We need to think about how we can create value around our resident or patient experience and build support for clinical excellence.”
New lab service, one brand
Synchrony saw an opportunity to improve clinical excellence, and better provide value, via a service line experiencing “a lot of pressure,” Bufford told Skilled Nursing News. Lab service providers have not been immune to staffing challenges.
“That creates an inability for the lab companies to go by and do blood draws, for example. Service is spotty at best,” Bufford said.
“We have skilled nursing facilities who get one day of lab service a week. If somebody needs a stat lab, they have to either pay a bunch of money to get it to happen, or they have to take them out of the facility to an emergency room or doctor’s office to get the blood drawn,” explained Bufford, referring to lab tests conducted with the knowledge that results are needed immediately to manage or prevent a medical emergency. “There’s just a real need for this kind of collaboration and seniors housing and skilled nursing.”
Bufford is looking forward to growing all planned ancillary services, as they are in constant interaction and must be integrated to drive better outcomes.
Falls, for example, usually involve input from a therapy provider, but better clinical care will add pharmacology input – a fall could be linked to the medication a resident is on, Bufford noted.
Synchrony’s pilot program has shown a reduction in falls using this collaborative approach, Bufford said, and Trilogy communities provide the perfect partner to test everything out.
“We get an incubator, we get a place we can test all this stuff,” he said.
Bufford expects a bundled service provider like Synchrony, enabling a collaborative clinical experience, will increasingly be attractive to operators in other parts of the care continuum while also being an attractive prospect for clinicians.
“The practice of medicine in seniors housing and skilled nursing is going to continue to evolve as our residents age in place, and the more we can do to bring health care information to put it in the hands of the practitioners – they’re going to love it,” added Bufford.
What’s next for Synchrony
With growth a priority, Synchrony has an investment banker engaged.
“I can tell you that as we grow along the way, some of the pieces we want to fill in, we’ll probably do acquisitions,” Bufford said. “That’s the reason why we want to get a capital partner in, to provide that resource for the organization.”
He is not yet ready to disclose any further information on potential investments, but Bufford is interested in both expanding current business lines and adding new services.
There’s a “real magic” in achieving more efficient pricing by upscaling pharmacy, he said, so he’s interested in expanding the current eight-location footprint. But at this phase in the process, there are many possible avenues to explore.
“It’s a new journey,” Bufford said.
And it’s a journey that he’s excited to be leading. After stepping down as Trilogy CEO in 2019, he served as chairman of the board. In this role, he observed the upside potential in being able to more effectively integrate the ancillary services businesses and collaborate with Trilogy and other clients. When the board broached the idea that he “sign up for four or five years” as Synchrony’s CEO, he did not hesitate.
“Even though I’m an older dude, I still love working and love what I do and have a passion,” he said.