Bigger, better and more convenient is a simple principle, and it’s driving big changes for this group of physicians. Learn how its recent merger is introducing a new level of care to the region.
It’s hard to argue with bigger, better and more convenient. It’s a driving principle in business, and in health care, too: Give people what they need, what they may need in the future, and have it all close at hand. That’s exactly what Rockford Orthopedic Associates is setting out to accomplish.
The group finalized a merger with Crystal Lake Orthopedics (CLO) in September 2013, creating a unique set of subspecialty services at a university-quality organization. Together, the two intend to meet the needs of their patients and improve their standing in a crowded medical market.
“Consolidating our resources better positioned all of us to succeed in a rapidly changing health care environment,” says Don Schreiner, CEO of the Rockford-based group.
Rockford Orthopedic had considered expansion for some time, says Schreiner, with the intention of becoming a regional provider. Communities east of Rockford were labeled a high priority, while expansion northward was a secondary consideration.
“We put the word out, and within days, Crystal Lake Orthopedics contacted us,” Schreiner says. “Crystal Lake Orthopedics is a five-physician group, with two locations, in Crystal Lake and Huntley, that was looking for a partner with which to merge. They had been talking to two other potential partners, but shortly after meeting with our board, they eliminated the other two practices and entered into exclusive negotiations with us.”
In addition to a podiatric surgeon, CLO has four orthopedic surgeons that subspecialize in total joint replacement, shoulder reconstruction, hand and upper-extremity surgery and sports medicine. It operates clinics at 750 E. Terra Cotta Ave. in Crystal Lake, and 12519 Regency Pkwy. in Huntley.
Rockford Orthopedics is a subspecialty orthopedic practice with 25 physicians and 16 physician assistants, specializing in joint replacement, shoulder reconstruction, physical medicine and rehabilitation, occupational medicine, rheumatology, podiatry, and pediatric, trauma, spine, hand and sports medicine. The practice also owns an ambulatory surgery center and five rehabilitation centers around the Rockford area.
The merger process began in January 2013 and concluded on Sept. 1. Both practices kept their original names, to reflect their reputation and familiarity within the community. Even so, CLO will now be subtitled “A Division of Rockford Orthopedic Associates.”
“Crystal Lake has a great reputation,” Schreiner explains. “We want to keep that name out in the public.”
Patients will now benefit from a wider variety of services provided by fellowship-trained specialists. Using their combined resources, the two groups will provide more subspecialty treatments and technological advancements close to suburban patients’ homes, raising comprehensive care to a higher level.
For CLO, there’s an added benefit through technological investments at Rockford Orthopedic, one of the first orthopedic practices in the country to adopt electronic medical records. It’s stayed ahead on other medical technologies, continually investing in the latest equipment, electronic record-keeping and management expertise.
“With this leading-edge focus on our research, our sub-specialty focus and university-like setting, we can continue to attract the best doctors from the best medical schools and health systems from around the country,” says Schreiner.
Patients in Crystal Lake and Huntley can also tap into Rockford’s specialties in spine care, pediatric orthopedics and hip arthroscopy, thanks to a deal that allows the clinic to recruit or rotate those subspecialties to the suburbs. All five of CLO’s specialists will remain on-site, with their current hospital privileges and call coverage, so as to avoid disruption in patient care and physician relationships.
“Each practice and its physicians will continue to have strong relationships with surrounding hospitals and health systems, to provide comprehensive, full-service care to patients,” Schreiner says. “Crystal Lake Orthopedics and Rockford Orthopedic Associates met with leaders from Centegra Health System, in McHenry County, to provide insight on the organizations’ intent to merge.”
Schreiner says he sees potential for growth in Crystal Lake, just as Rockford Orthopedic has grown over the years. “It all goes back to the need to keep getting better,” he says. “We started in 1999 with 30 employees, including five doctors. Now, Rockford Orthopedic has 31 doctors, 20 physician’s assistants and more than 30 physical therapists. Altogether, Rockford Orthopedic employs 325 in our various locations.”
Because of the merger, both Rockford Orthopedic and CLO believe they can deliver better services to a larger patient base. Schreiner points out that, collaboratively, they can do this in a much more cost-effective manner. Both organizations are seizing new opportunities, as they continue to realize a new level of comprehensive care. More patients are seeking lower-cost services closer to home, and Schreiner says it’s a chance to better provide those essential specialized medical services right here in our region.
Bigger, more convenient, available when needed – just what the doctor ordered.