Cedar Park’s growing population is creating a business incentive for primary and specialty care physicians looking to expand their patient pool.
At least 17 medical businesses have opened in the area in the past year, including pediatric specialty services, mental health and maternity facilities—many of which are located on Whitestone Boulevard and at Cedar Park Regional Medical Center’s campus near the 1890 Ranch shopping center.
Several Austin- and Round Rock-based practices chose to expand in Cedar Park to fill a need in its existing patient population that needed more convenient locations closer to home.
Little Tesoros Therapy Services, which opened at a new pediatrics specialty center on CPRMC’s campus in the spring, is one example.
“We were definitely looking at areas of opportunity around town in surrounding communities—areas that we knew we got a lot of referrals from but that didn’t have a lot of access to care,” Little Tesoros owner Donna Smith said. “We saw Cedar Park was growing rapidly, and when we looked at what was out there and available to our families, there was not much available.”[polldaddy poll=9445416]
Cedar Park’s population has grown by 400 percent in the past 10 years, and in that time the U.S. Census Bureau has twice named the city as the fourth-fastest growing city in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates Cedar Park had 63,574 residents as of July 1, 2014, the most recent available population data.
Some medical professionals say they chose Cedar Park to open a business because of its proximity to other physicians and complementary specialty services to the medical care they provide.
Health care business models
New area primary care services include niche business models entering the market, such as Total Men’s Primary Care, which opens at the end of June.
The business, located on Whitestone, offers primary care services for men only and has locations in Austin and Bee Cave. Founder and CEO Robert Sek said he first launched the clinic concept in Bee Cave and immediately saw demand for service.
“We wanted to solve a problem in health care, which is that men don’t take care of their health care needs—so much so that men live five years [less]than women do,” Sek said. “Research also shows that the average male goes to the doctor once every five years, so we sought to solve these problems.”
The practice provides wellness exams and can treat illnesses and ailments including allergies, diabetes and hypertension. Sek said the practice’s location near H-E-B was strategic in order to bring other health care services close to its Cedar Park location. Sek said Total Men’s is in network with major insurance companies.
“Cedar Park is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. We have a lot of [patient]coverage west and south [of Austin]and felt it would be a great complement to broadening our reach through the Austin [metro]area,”
Located nearly 2 miles from Total Men’s on Whitestone is Premier Health MD, which opened in January and offers primary care services to patients who pay a flat-rate monthly fee.
The business is modeled after the affordable concierge practice model, which allows patients to visit the doctor as many times as necessary without paying a co-pay for each appointment.
Premier Health’s memberships, or monthly fees, range in price from $49-$119, depending on the patient’s age. Typically, insurance companies will not pay for the membership fee, Practice Manager David Miller said. However, insurance will cover tests, labwork, medications and hospitalizations the patient may need.
David Miller, Dr. Melissa Miller’s husband, said he discovered the concierge model during his studies in health care management and is about to begin writing a dissertation on the subject at The University of Texas. He said the business model allows owner Dr. Melissa Miller to have more time with her patients because she only sees five to six patients per day as opposed to the 20-40 patients she used to see per day in her previous experience at hospitals and clinics. Many patients can receive insurance reimbursements for seeing an out-of-network physician such as Dr. Melissa Miller, David Miller said.
“I did a lot of analysis of different locations,” David Miller said. “After analyzing what was available and where the population is [growing]—this is such a growing area, and we love Cedar Park. … This location [is]where we are right near the hospital and … we [where]were able to get near some other great quality [medical businesses].”
Melissa Miller plans to limit her total number of patients to 600, and when she reaches that number, the practice will hire a second physician and expand in its current building, he said.
Future plans also could include adding a pharmacy in-house.
Additional primary care will become available in spring 2017 when Austin Regional Clinic opens its freestanding, 20,000-square-foot building on Whitestone. ARC is building the new clinic in response to outgrowing its current facility on Discovery Boulevard. The new clinic will provide family medicine and pediatrics services and will be open for extended hours. For more information, see the story on Page 36.
CPRMC is responsible for many of the new specialty services within the area, with recent campus additions including pediatrics specialty physicians and a mental health care provider.
In the spring, Pediatric Subspecialty Land Co. North opened a 75,000-square-foot pediatrics specialty center in partnership with CPRMC, private practice physicians and doctors from Seton Healthcare Family’s Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas.
In March, Little Tesoros opened its first Cedar Park location inside a suite at the new pediatrics building. Smith said physicians who owned the building contacted her inquiring about whether she would consider opening a location there. Little Tesoros provides physical, occupational and speech therapy to patients ages 1-21.
Smith said data from the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the U.S. Census Bureau reaffirmed a need for her services in the area.
“Historically [our suburban]families have a really hard time getting into Austin for services. There was that market research piece that told us that this is a good place to expand. … “It was all simultaneous and serendipitous [timing].”
CPRMC’s expansion plans extended into Leander in February, when the hospital opened its first freestanding emergency room on Crystal Falls Parkway in Leander.
In 2017, Leander will receive another freestanding emergency room built on property near Austin Community College’s future campus, St. David’s HealthCare announced May 12. St. David’s also has plans to build a full-service hospital and medical offices on the same property in the future.
“We believe that Leander is … certainly one of the fastest-growing areas and the next logical area that will need a full-service hospital sooner rather than later,” St. David’s CEO David Huffstutler said. “We wanted to position ourselves to be able to do that when that time comes.”
Austin Pain Associates expanded its Cedar Park facility on Cypress Creek Road by opening its first Infusion Center in January. The center offers infusion services to treat patients who do not respond well to traditional medications to treat ailments such as depression and headaches. APA Provider Relations Specialist Chrissy Ferguson said the decision to expand in Cedar Park was to provide patients with a more convenient location. The Infusion Center works closely with nearby family practices, which was also a reason to choose Cedar Park for the Infusion Center,
Dr. Paul Le, an APA physician, said the physician corridor nearby has caused APA’s business to increase.
The business plans to expand again later this year by adding 12 additional infusion bays.
“Cedar Park is a great location. It’s a growing market in terms of the patient population here,” Le said. “It’s easy for people … that work in this area to drop in. If you look at the number of patients when we opened this office … it’s more than doubled since 2011.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated June 20 to clarify that Pediatric Subspecialty Land Co. North is the landowner and building owner of the pediatrics specialty facility, located on Cedar Park Regional Medical Center’s campus.