Local physician turns to small business lending to open new practice

Evolve Personal Health is a membership-based concierge medical practice with a personal approach designed to transform patients’ day-to-day lives.
For more than a dozen years, Vim Patel, MD, worked as a hospitalist -- a physician who specializes in the care of patients during their entire hospital stay, from admittance to release.

Wanting to get back to the idealistic view of medicine he had while in college, Dr. Patel started taking steps two years ago toward opening a new type of primary care practice. Now open, Evolve Personal Health is a membership-based concierge medical practice with a personal approach designed to transform patients’ day-to-day lives.

A big part of opening his new practice, after finding the right location, was obtaining the financing to purchase the property. After visiting with a couple of banks, one of Dr. Patel’s advisors suggested he meet with USAmeriBank about a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. 

An SBA loan is a standard business loan made by a bank, or other lender, but it carries the backing of the Small Business Administration. This backing allows the lender to make loans that might not meet some conventional criteria. For example, a business that is light on collateral or doesn’t have a lot of equity to invest might qualify for an SBA loan. 

After completing the necessary paperwork and presenting his business plan, Dr. Patel got an SBA loan from USAmeriBank to purchase the property for his medical practice.

It wasn’t an easy sell, though. Any time you do something atypical -- in this case, asking people to change their mindset about how they pay for and receive their healthcare -- that could make a bank nervous. 

“But after meeting Dr. Patel and seeing how driven and passionate he and his wife [Chitra Prasad-Patel] are about their practice and the philosophy behind it, we were confident,” said Garrett Von Eye, Vice President, SBA Business Development Officer at USAmeriBank. “Their plan was well executed from a research and development standpoint. They had clearly done their homework and that is what attracted us to their business.”

While SBA loans can work for business owners with little or no collateral, a bank typically prefers to have some collateral, especially for a startup deal. In this case, the real estate Dr. Patel was purchasing with the SBA loan served as the collateral. 

The next item a bank looks for is the cash flow, or projected cash flow, for the business. In the case of Evolve Personal Health, its subscription service model, similar to a gym membership, offers consistent cash flow. 

“The recurring revenue Evolve has coming in each month was definitely appealing,” said Von Eye. “Consistent, ‘boring’ cash flow is always a good thing for a bank. Dr. Patel’s history as a hospitalist and potential for outside income made the decision even easier.”

One of the biggest misconceptions about SBA lending is that it’s a long, complicated process. But in reality, it’s not much different than a conventional loan. 

“We chose an SBA loan because it allowed us to achieve our goal with minimal time lag,” said Dr. Patel. “We were surprised by how fast the process was. It was actually one of the smoothest transactions on our road to opening.”

Evolve Personal Health, located at 4221 W. El Prado Blvd. in South Tampa, looks at the totality of our health. Rather than focus solely on treating a patient’s symptoms, Dr. Patel and his team work together to develop a personalized treatment plan to get to the root of the problem.

The team uses a three-dimensional approach -- physical, nutritional and introspective – to understand and alleviate issues of concern. The third part of this approach is new for most patients. 

Introspective, which is largely ignored by the current healthcare system, explores the perception a patient has on one’s life and whether patients have a social structure in place to offer the needed support to reach their health goals. 

“This portion is where we can offer the greatest impact to our patients,” said Dr. Patel. “We help patients identify obstacles and lead them through to help achieve their goals.”

Since Evolve Personal Health operates outside of insurance companies, it’s also asking patients to change their mindset about how they pay for their healthcare. 

“We’re asking our customers to think differently and hold their healthcare at a higher value,” said Dr. Patel. “Our client is the person who says, ‘I want a system that is better.’”

Dr. Patel has already seen a shift in the local community’s mindset, led by the previous announcement that Jeff Vinik’s and Strategic Property Partners’ redevelopment of Tampa’s Channelside district will be WELL Certified. The wellness district means better air and water, greener buildings, abundant green space, walkability and connectivity, and access to healthy food and amenities.  

“We know the mindset and thought process is here. And we wanted to offer a service that can really benefit this community,” said Dr. Patel.

Laura Fontanills, APR is a senior account executive with B2 Communications. This article is part of a series about local entrepreneurs who have benefited from SBA lending programs. The series is supported by USAmeriBank. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.
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