A Florence business started to keep a handful of people working, has grown in 17 years to become one of the largest third-party medical billing companies in the United States, employing over 500.
Dr. Louis Wright founded Pathology Service Associates LLC (PSA) in 1995 with eight employees working in a garage behind the office of Pee Dee Pathology at 306 East Cheves St. Seven of the original eight employees still work for PSA today –including Al Sirmon who has been president of PSA since its inception.
It all started after Dr. Wright and his practice sold Pee Dee Pathologies’ clinical laboratory to a national laboratory company in 1994. The company didn’t need the back office, he said, so he was concerned about a dozen employees who would be out of work.
“I got the wild idea to start a little management company to help pathologists,” he said.
Dr. Wright was able to convince four other pathology groups in the state to participate in his new venture. The new business gave him a place to employ those left jobless.
“I felt a strong sense of responsibility for those who had helped me,” he commented.
Essentially, it was a company started by a pathologist doing work for pathologists.
Shortly after PSA acquired space in the Business Technology Center (BTC) in downtown Florence. These five practices soon aligned themselves in a network that enabled them to compete for statewide anatomic pathology contracts. This alliance also allowed them to share many support services (billing, contracting, purchasing, marketing, education, compliance, etc). It afforded economies of scale that permitted these practices to maintain their independence during a period of acquisition that spawned many national laboratories.
The success of this model resulted incorporating more South Carolina pathology practices into the network. Soon after, pathology practices and laboratories in North Carolina and other southeastern states were added, and by 1999, PSA had opened two new offices in Greenwood and Charleston.
PSA continued to enjoy tremendous growth, even reaching a point in 2002 when the leadership realized that they would have to actually slow down the growth curve in order to ensure that the quality and integrity of the services they were providing would not be compromised.
By 2005, as it celebrated its 10th anniversary, PSA employed over 300 people and represented 65 laboratories and pathology practices in 22 states. PSA had already been recognized as one of the largest third party medical billing companies in the United States –and the largest billing company specializing exclusively in laboratory and pathology billing.
This specialization in laboratory and pathology services allowed the company to develop a strong nationwide reputation as experts in providing business solutions for the pathology industry.
PSA opened a fourth office in Charlotte, N. C., in 2008. Today it employees over 500 people in the four offices (Florence, Charleston, Greenwood and Charlotte), including over 200 in its newly-constructed Florence headquarters at 1362 Celebration Boulevard. The company began occupying in this new building last month.
PSA has become widely recognized as the leading provider of comprehensive business solutions for clinical laboratories and pathology practices nationwide.
Consistent with Dr. Wright’s founding vision, PSA continues to provide the same core group of medical billing and related “back-office solutions” for over 100 laboratories and pathology practices in 32 states, which allows this nationwide affiliation of independent pathologists and laboratories to focus on providing quality pathology and laboratory services to their local communities.
In 2007, PSA was acquired as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pittsburgh, PA. based MED3OOO, a leader in providing healthcare management, operations, and information technology services across the United States. MED3OOO provides a complete platform of clinical and business performance solutions, including PM, RCM, and population health management strategies which help its clients improve clinical and financial outcomes.
Reflecting on his “wild idea to start a little management company,” Dr. Wright says his biggest reward has been “getting to know a lot of good human beings who believe in the community.”
“Florence is a wonderful place to start a business,” he added. “The people in the Pee Dee have good fundamental values. I have been honored to work with many fine people in PSA. None finer than those of the Pee Dee area of South Carolina, who made it all happen.”