Provider drops franchise, advances its own identity

Saturday, September 30, 2006

SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. - After 17 years, OptionCare of Southeastern Michigan split from the franchise and has a new name. Now operating as Advanced Care Infusion, the company had three years left on its franchise contract but, apart from name recognition, the benefits to operating as a franchise were few, said David Franklin, vice president of business operations.
"The timing was right to break away from their brand and assert our own," said Franklin. "People who were aware of our brand were very happy with it."
Part of the reason for the split was marketplace confusion, said Franklin.
"Something that was associated with another office would be attributed to us and that just wasn't beneficial to us," said Franklin. "It was better to make the break and make sure that people differentiated us."
Advanced Care Infusion operates as one arm of Advanced Care, a network offering HME, retail, specialty and compounding pharmacy, disease state management and related healthcare services.
The infusion business serves 400 patients and generates $6 million in annual revenues. The company's largest payer is Blue Cross Blue Shield at 53%. Medicare comprises 16%.
While the start of the Medicare Part D was challenging, strategic planning paid off in the form of a 60% increase in referrals--many from new sources, said Franklin.
"We made a decision to accept all Medicare D patients whether we can verify their benefits right off or not," said Franklin. "Many referral sources called us after their usual providers refused the cases. It created a lot of goodwill for us."
The Advanced Care name is familiar enough in the lower Michigan market that there isn't a need to roll out a new marketing campaign to trumpet the name change, said Franklin.
"If anything, it will make the marketing easier," said Franklin. "Everybody knew us as Advanced except the infusion was under a different name."