The nation's largest physician-practice management company focusing on occupational health care has come to Maryland.
This morning officials from Concentra Medical Centers will announce their plan to operate a total of 12 health care facilities in the state.
Concentra recently bought nine local occupational health facilities, which employ 200 workers. The company will open three additional centers with 150 employees.
"It's the best thing for the employees, the employers and the state of Maryland, because we reduce the costs of occupational health care anywhere from 30 to 70 percent, and that makes Maryland more competitive for business," said Tom Ward, vice president for operations for the eastern region of OccuSystems Inc., Concentra's parent company.
Ward cited Maryland's "need for a cost-effective, quality occupational health care provider" as the reason Concentra expanded into the state.
"The mid-Atlantic region has experienced an explosion of workers' compensation and health care costs, and we have been successful in other markets at alleviating this problem," Ward said.
Ken Laudan, an analyst at Hambrecht & Quist Inc. in San Francisco who follows OccuSystems, said the company "occupies a unique niche in a large market."
The company plans to spend between $15 million and $20 million in the local marketplace over the next few years, according to Ward.
Concentra is leasing a 14,000-square-foot regional headquarters facility in Jessup. The offices, which should be completed by October, will oversee Concentra's Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Washington operations.
Concentra's expansion will also bring jobs -- 100 this year and 50 more the next. About half of those will be professional positions including marketing personnel, administrators, doctors, nurses and other health consultants.
Salaries for those positions, Ward said, range from $35,000 to six figures.
"The vast majority of them will be recruited from the local market," said Ward, who recently moved to Maryland from Denver. "With everything we have done here so far, we've only brought in two people from outside Maryland."
Gov. Parris N. Glendening applauded today's impending announcement.
"Concentra is one of the private sector businesses that is providing Maryland with good-paying, family-supporting jobs that will contribute to a strong economy," the governor said in a written statement.
Investors also showed their support. Shares of OccuSystems closed up $1 at $37.75 on the Nasdaq stock market.
"OccuSystems has been very strong over the past couple of weeks," said industry analyst Eleanor Kerns at Alex. Brown Inc. in Boston. "I think there is a lot of confidence in the company and their earnings."
Network of specialists
Concentra provides occupational health care services to clients
nationwide via a network of medical specialists. Unlike a health maintenance organization, Concentra does not provide personal health services.
"We have one purpose, and that is to help our clients reduce the cost of workman's compensation injury," said Dr. Calvin Fuhrmann, Concentra's regional medical director.
Concentra's cost-cutting strategy revolves around prevention and efficiency.
"One of the most effective ways OccuSystems is reining in wildly large workers' compensation costs is giving the providers control over what kind of treatment they get and getting that person back to work as soon as possible," Hambrecht & Quist's Laudan said.
To increase efficiency, Concentra employs a team responsible for nothing but scheduling medical appointments.
"If our specialist doesn't give us fast service, guess what? We use someone else," Fuhrmann said.
Concentra will face competition from CMC Occupational Health, which runs five centers in the Baltimore area, and Mercy Medical Center's network of a dozen affiliated occupational health centers.
OccuSystems, which is based in Dallas and went public in May 1995, manages 150 doctors in 83 health care centers in 13 states.
Pub Date: 6/13/96