GHA Q&A with Rapidly-Expanding ENT & Allergy Platform SENTA Partners

Vertical: ENT / Allergy
Author: JC Lupis
Date: November 2020

Southern Ear, Nose, Throat & Allergy Partners (SENTA Partners) is a community of ENT and allergy specialists founded in 2019 and located in the Southeast. Backed by Shore Capital Partners, a healthcare-focused lower-middle-market private equity (PE) firm, SENTA focuses on both the ENT and allergy specialties.

Here, SENTA VP of M&A and Corporate Development John Bennett and CEO Adam Low talk to Global Healthcare Advisors (GHA) about SENTA’s outlook on the market and expansion plans.

GHA: Otolaryngology and allergy hasn’t yet undergone the same rate of consolidation as some other provider specialties. How do you see industry consolidation trending in the next 12-24 months?

SENTA: SENTA believes the consolidation wave is in the early innings for ENT and allergy, but that it will take place just like it has in ophthalmology, dermatology, and other medical specialties. We’ve seen numerous ENT and allergy practices select physicians to internally study private equity as an option in advance of pursuing a deal. SENTA is working to educate the marketplace within our target geography about the benefits of partnering with private equity and we’ve seen success already, having completed four affiliations since our inception.

GHA: How have you been finding the deal environment during COVID?

SENTA: The deal environment remained strong during COVID, as did SENTA’s interest in partnering with excellent physicians and practices. We just completed three practice affiliations over the last two months and are not intent on stopping there. SENTA and our financial sponsor, Shore Capital, believe in the value of the medical care our affiliated physicians provide their patients every day, regardless of COVID. With that mentality and the fact that we are already invested in the space, we’re able to tailor partnership proposals that reflect our long-term belief in ENT and allergy.

GHA: Do you find that providers are more open to partnering with you now as a result of the pandemic?

SENTA: COVID certainly impacted private practices and led a lot of physicians to appreciate the benefits of partnering with an organization like SENTA. We supported our partner practices during COVID and deployed growth capital on behalf of our physicians and our employees. We believe that a failure to plan is a plan to fail and so we acted quickly at the onset of COVID, establishing a course of action that would see our partner practices emerge stronger and better capitalized than they were pre-COVID. Our model also lends itself to weathering any future COVID impact on business performance, which I think a lot of providers now recognize. Whether the objective is to capture market share, support employees, provide administrative and professional support or something else, we can help our partner practices tailor a plan to achieve our collective goals regardless of market conditions.

GHA: Earlier you mentioned your sponsor, Shore Capital Partners. Can you speak to what their support means for your expansion efforts?

SENTA: Shore, like SENTA, believes good medicine is good business and with that in mind, we leave the medicine to the providers and focus our efforts on supporting good business. Shore focuses their efforts on growing SENTA through investing in the infrastructure and management team, additional affiliations and organic initiatives. In addition to providing capital to fund our growth, they offer a wealth of previous experience in the physician practice management space, given their investments in other specialties with strategies similar to SENTA.

GHA: Regarding your growth strategies, are you speaking with specialized allergy practices, or more integrated ENT and allergy providers?

SENTA: One way we differentiate ourselves in the market is through our focus on dual specialty, both ENT and allergy. As it stands, our platform has 13 ENTs and 15 allergists. We believe there’s substantial market opportunity within each individual specialty, but significantly more when both are considered. On the business side, we believe we can spread best practices across specialties in ways that will improve the administration of both an ENT practice and an allergy practice. Our strategy within each division is tailored as well, which is something we would be excited to share with our partner ENT or allergy practices.

GHA: To what extent are ASCs part of your existing and future strategy, and how important are ASCs to the future of ENT?

SENTA: With the completion of our recent partnership in Valdosta, Georgia, SENTA’s network now includes three ambulatory surgery centers. Practices that have their own ASC are compelling opportunities for us strategically, and we believe ASCs offer patients an opportunity to receive high-end clinical care from our partner physicians in an environment purpose-built to create an excellent patient experience. Our physicians also recognize the value ASCs provide and enjoy the experience of having an entire clinical staff dedicated only to their patients and being able to customize their clinical equipment to their exact specifications. In addition, payors have recognized this as a high quality, lower-cost setting. ASCs are certainly a big piece of our strategy.

GHA: Congratulations on your recent acquisitions in Georgia. Do you have plans to expand geographically, and if so, where?

SENTA: Thank you very much, we’re very excited about our recent string of announced affiliations. Currently, our partner practices include two ENT practices (Northwest ENT and Piedmont ENT) and one allergy practice (Atlanta Allergy) in metro Atlanta, but we also just recently announced our completed affiliation with an ENT practice in Valdosta, Georgia (ENT Associates of South Georgia). However, our vision for growth extends far beyond Georgia and we’re currently having active conversations with groups throughout our target Southern geography which spans from Texas in the West to Florida in the East and into the Carolinas.

For any questions about the ENT and allergy specialties or this Q&A, please contact GHA Managing Director JC Lupis at jclupis@ghadvisors.net.