Dr. Alejandro Badia’s big, hairy, audacious goal is for his company OrthoNOW to be as synonymous with orthopedic urgent care as Starbucks is with coffee. But Badia knows that there is much more to achieving goals than just identifying them. His priority has always been giving access to great medical services that saved patients time and money. Now he is going further.
“People should get excited about the fact that through simple technology, like an app on a smartphone, they can have access to faster and better medical outcomes with less cost and decreases in wait and recovery time,” says Badia, OrthoNOW’s cofounder and CEO. “That, to me, is groundbreaking.”
OrthoNOW, the nation’s only franchised orthopedic urgent care center, evolved out of Badia’s frustration with the traditional healthcare delivery method of going to an emergency room, receiving an initial consult and often unnecessary and costly test, and being referred to a specialist. OrthoNOW cuts out the emergency room middleman, providing specialist services to patients right away.
When Hispanic Executive first spoke with Badia in 2014, the organization was in the early stages of franchising, with a flagship location in Doral, Florida, and plans to expand in the state’s Broward County. In 2016, OrthoNOW has seven locations with plans to expand in Orlando. Badia, an internationally respected hand and upper extremity orthopedic surgeon, leads this initiative with his cofounder Justin Irizarry, a leading financial industry figure and Wharton alumnus, as well as with select members of their executive team.
While a majority of the centers are located in Florida and Georgia, “our goal is to be a national presence,” Badia says. “But we realize that large-scale expansion of urgent orthopedic care will take some time and unique marketing campaigns to achieve.”
OrthoNOW has also developed its own app that will let patients give the company a heads up that they are on their way. Users can open the app, which will help them find the nearest OrthoNOW and register with their name, ailment, and when they plan to arrive. The patient is in the system and by the time they get to the nearest OrthoNOW, an x-ray technician is ready to see them right away.
“We’re well ahead of the curve now in terms of not [making patients] sit around the waiting room,” Badia says. The next round of updates to the app will include a more attractive interface, using Google Maps to find the nearest OrthoNOW, and the ability to contact Uber through the app if you need a ride to the center.
Badia and his team are working hard to find potential franchisees to help them continue their quest for a national presence. Currently, there are six franchises located in Florida and Georgia. “Our initial thinking was that independent physicians would buy a franchise and be armed with OrthoNOW marketing materials that they could tweak for their purposes,” he says.
While interest in the franchise model is high, the executive team has found that potential franchisees want to see OrthoNOW put up more money to get the location up and running. “We understand their perspective,” Badia says, “but we also know that to run a franchise that way would not lead to stable, long-term growth.”
OrthoNOW continues to work toward expanding its brand nationally through franchise sales. The effort begins by carefully selecting those the company feels will be an ideal franchisee and someone who is serious about opening up a location. To help identify potential owners who would be a good fit, Badia and his team are putting more focus on increasing their candidate search pool.
The group will do this by increasing marketing aimed at the franchise buyer public. One avenue for connection includes hosting regular “Franchise Discovery Days,” which are events put together by the company’s chief development officer. Badia, the chief financial officer, and the marketing team band together to show interested franchisee candidates what OrthoNOW is all about. The day includes “transport by minibus to two to three locations so they can see the centers in action,” Badia says.
“Our model is designed to spark the interest of people who realize that healthcare is a safe business,” Badia says, “one that is here to stay, or a conglomerate that has knowledge and a presence in the healthcare industry who would partner with us or acquire us, which would hyper accelerate national expansion.”
Another proactive step to bring in more patients and activate more centers is to find people with healthcare experience and integrate them into upper management. Included in this push for talent is a chief development officer to oversee franchise sales and a director of clinical operations to help set up protocols from a clinical end. The biggest change on the executive level Badia would like to see, however, is at the top—he wants to replace himself as CEO.
“Honestly, [performing surgery] is what I love to do,” Badia says. “I think I’m a very good hand surgeon. I enjoy that. I did not begin this corporation thinking of transitioning into healthcare administration but rather creating a vehicle that would disrupt traditional healthcare and produce better outcomes for patients. Now that we have traction, I would welcome the onboarding of a top-notch healthcare administrator as CEO to lead us to our goals.”