As the health care landscape across the North Bay — indeed, across much of the country — undergoes rapid transformation, many organizations are already growing in anticipation of the changes that lay ahead.
From physician networks, to drug makers to physician insurers, North Bay companies are experiencing growth — and quickly.
The Marin-Sonoma IPA changed its name as a reflection of its growth further into Sonoma County — when earlier this spring it grew from some 300 physicians to nearly 500 in a matter of months.
The independent practice association already had a large presence in Marin and a noticeable presence in Sonoma County. But it quickly went to having a wide presence in Sonoma as it expanded its network to include every hospital in the county expect for Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente facilities, which both have their own medical foundations.
The IPA’s network originally included Marin General, Novato Community, Petaluma Valley and Sonoma Valley hospitals. When it announced its expansion further to Sonoma County, it included Palm Drive and Healdsburg District hospitals. It also added the county’s largest hospital – Santa Rosa Memorial — by adding physicians from the Annadel Medical Group, which contracts exclusively with St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare, the medical foundation of Memorial’s parent company, St. Joseph Health System–Sonoma County.
The expanded network is expected to help district hospitals maintain access to an ever-shrinking pool of physicians, particularly as health care organizations such as Sutter and Kaiser invest heavily into their foundations.
The expanded IPA has also been described as an early development of the Affordable Care Act, which encourages accountable care organizations, or ACOs. Joel Criste, chief executive officer of the Marin-Sonoma IPA and the Prima Medical Group, a subset of the IPA, said he expected the physicians’ network to be included as an ACO under guidelines by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, as a network that can reduce costs by integrating more facilities and doctors.
The push into Sonoma County came less than a year after the Prima Medical Group, what was then just the Marin IPA and Marin General Hospital formed a foundation, which was seen then as a key step for Marin General as it transferred operations away from Sutter Health.
Another fast-growing side of health care is the vast world of biotech. And North Bay companies are no exception from this growing trend.
Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, which was started by former BioMarin chief medical officer Emil Kakkis, earlier this year closed on $45 million in series A financing to develop treatments for rare diseases.
The Novato-based drug maker’s lead product will be UX-0010, a treatment of hereditary inclusion body myophathy, or HIBM. It is expected to enter clinical trials this year.
Co-lead investors were TPG Biotech, Fidelity Biosciences, HealthCap and Pappas Ventures.
Novato-based BioMarin Pharmaceutical, itself is in an expansion mode — in June, it announced it was buying a 133,000-square-foot Pfizer manufacturing plant in Cork, Ireland, for $48.5 million. The acquisition of the plant, along with the establishment of an international supply chain and logistics presence in Dublin earlier this year,are BioMarin’s first production expansions outside the U.S.
BioMarin also completed a $60 million renovation at its Novato plant last year, more than doubling its commercial production capacity at the eight-building campus.
This year the company continues to expand administrative departments to a ninth building, is upgrading utilities and laboratories and planning further manufacturing growth in 2012.
The Doctors Company, a Napa-based physician and medical liability insurer, increased its nationwide membership by 27 percent this year when it acquired FPIC Insurance Group, a major publicly-traded medical insurance group based in Florida.
The Doctors Company, already the largest such insurer in the country, paid about $362 million for the insurer of dentists, physicians and other health care providers. With the merger, the Napa-based insurer will take on an additional 18,000 policy holders, growing from 55,000 to 70,000.
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