Bankers focus on medical market

When Dr. Claudette Jatto was getting ready to set up her private practice two years ago, she had no time to waste.

She had a good site lined up in Lower Paxton Township and wanted to open quickly to preserve continuity of care for her existing patients.
However, her bank “was dragging the process along,” she said.
A contact recommended Centric Bank. She met with Chief Lending Officer Jeffrey Myers, and within 24 hours he put together a proposal that let her meet her timetable.
As a result, Jatto Internal Medicine and Wellness went from concept to reality within 90 days, rather than the six to nine months it would have taken, she said.
In general, banking for medical practices falls within the domain of small-business banking. However, several banks, including Centric, find it advantageous to offer specialized services that they believe serve the industry better.
Centric has always seen the medical community as a key market, bank President and CEO Patti Husic said. Centric’s fourth branch is set to open next spring in Derry Township near the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
Recently, Centric launched Doctor Centric, a concierge banking service.
The service includes a suite of financial products covering all aspects of medical practices. It also includes “house calls” — bankers will come to doctors’ offices as needed to handle meetings and transactions.
Doctor Centric features its own branding and website.
“We wanted to give it a life of its own,” Husic said.
The service helps doctors save time, which they then can devote to their patients, she said.
Centric has been able to handle Jatto’s payroll, operating accounts, financing and equipment leasing — essentially, giving her one-stop shopping, the doctor said.
Lancaster-based Fulton Bank has about 10 bankers in the midstate who focus on health care, President and Chief Operating Officer Curt Myers said.
Physicians aren’t the only health care segment that needs specialized services, he said: Hospitals, nursing homes and senior living communities do, too. Fulton provides expertise accordingly.
Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group, one of the nation’s largest banks, even has its health care bankers trained and certified by the Medical Group Management Association, said Nicholas Spanakis, group practice manager for PNC’s Healthcare Business Banking group. MGMA, based in Colorado, is the nation’s leading professional association for medical practice administrators.
“It takes three years,” Spanakis said of the certification process.
Health care is an enormous market: Nationally, it accounts for about 18 percent of GDP.
Health care businesses have always had unique needs, said Jennifer Englerth, executive director of Family First Health in York. In particular, the longtime lag between service provision and reimbursement makes cash flow a key issue.
“It requires greater flexibility and higher amounts (made available through) lines of credit,” she said.
In addition, medical technology is changing rapidly. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires practices to shift to electronic medical records and standardize billing. Medical practices need their banks to be good partners as they work to finance these capital improvements, she said.
They can be good partners in other ways, too. Centric was able to connect Jatto with vendors she otherwise would not have known about, she said.
Jatto said she’s delighted at how Centric has handled her banking needs.
“The efficiency, the understanding, the professionalism was amazing,” she said.

Tim Stuhldreher

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