- Tenet has named Joe Eazor president and CEO of its health services arm, Conifer. Eazor previously worked as chief customer officer at tech giant Oracle.
- Eazor, who has a background in technology and operations spanning the public and private sectors, will replace interim CEO Kyle Burtnett, who will return to his previous role as COO of Conifer.
- Eazor will guide the revenue cycle management subsidiary as Tenet spins it off into an independent publicly traded company following years of shaky financial performance.
Tenet started mulling a sale of Conifer in December 2017 as part of a cost reduction program following a year of struggling financial performance. A couple of big fish were reportedly interested in snapping it up, including UnitedHealth Group, which owns robust health services arm, Optum — a steady driver of growth and profit for the healthcare behemoth.
Twelve-year-old Conifer never became that for Tenet. The revenue cycle business proved a perennial damper on the company's earnings over the past year, with analysts forecasting an impending sale of the unit as a savvy move to recoup losses and bolster Tenet's bottom line as it continued to pare down debt and divest hospitals.
Following low bids from three final parties, Tenet in July announced it would be spinning off Conifer into an independent publicly traded company in lieu of a direct sale or merger.
Eazor's "years of experience at publicly traded companies and in high-tech operations will benefit us tremendously as Conifer continues to improve operations, product offerings, growth trajectory and standalone functions, all of which are key to completing a successful spinoff from Tenet by the second quarter of 2021," Tenet CEO Ron Rittenmeyer said in a Tuesday statement.
According to Tenet, Conifer manages 17 million patient interactions and roughly $25 billion in net patient revenue annually. In 2018, the subsidiary reported revenue of $1.53 billion and a 26% year-over-year increase in adjusted EBITA.
The spinoff is expected to be completed in the first half of next year.
Eazor executed Oracle's customer engagement programs as EVP and COO, a role he held for seven months. Prior to that, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business grad was CEO of San Antonio-based cloud computing company Rackspace and CEO of internet services provider EarthLink. He has also held executive roles at EMC, Hewlett-Packard and Electronic Data Systems.
For-profit Tenet operates 65 hospitals and 500 additional facilities running the gamut from ambulatory surgery centers to imaging centers. The company's cost reduction efforts staunched the financial bleeding somewhat over the past year, with Tenet posting a third consecutive quarter of volume growth in the prior quarter ended Sept. 30.
The operator outlined plans to aggressively expand its outpatient surgery unit, United Surgical Partners International, at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco last week. Tenet plans to shell out at least $175 million annually to purchase ambulatory surgery centers nationwide, taking advantage of a highly fragmented market.
Despite Tenet's consolidation strategy in outpatient surgeries, the player will continue to divest hospital assets into the new year, according to its executives. Most recently, Tenet offloaded its Memphis-area hospitals to market giant Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare for $350 million, sparking antitrust concerns among other area providers.