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Purchase of PacifiCare unit triples business for Alere

Judith Harlan

Business just tripled at Alere Medical Inc., when the health care management firm bought a piece of one of its biggest clients, PacifiCare Health Systems, Inc.

Reno-based Alere has been serving PacifiCare patients, providing home monitoring and disease management for chronic heart conditions.

The Alere system, which puts registered nurses in daily contact with heart patients, uses one-on-one nurse contact via phone and homebased monitoring equipment.

Alere, founded with venture capital in 1996, built its business on management of heart conditions.

With its recent acquisition, it expands its home management care of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes care and adds respiratory and kidney diseases.

Over the next 12 to 18 months, says Gayle Litov,Alere director of human resources, the firm will muscle up to meet its new goals.

That means an addition of office space as well as staff.

And how did such a huge burst of activity happen? “We had an excellent working relationship with PacifiCare and we both wanted a long-term commitment,” says Ron Geraty, chief executive officer of Alere.

“It came to should we buy you? Or should you buy us?” The decision:Alere, a privately held corporation, bought a disease management portion of the publicly held PacifiCare corporation.

The sale went to Alere, adds Geraty, because for PacifiCare the management was a small piece out of its overall business which includes a full range of insurance products marketed in eight states and Guam.

“But it’s 100 percent of what we do,” says Geraty.

To work with the California-based PacifiCare, Alere is opening an office in Orange County, California,where it will house about 15 to 20 disease management staff,many of them invited over to Alere from their current PacifiCare jobs.

Alere’s headquarters is remaining in Reno, says Litov.

In fact, it will add administrative and technical support, dieticians, respiratory therapists and social workers as well as nurses.

And the expansion doesn’t stop there.

This acquisition is part of a long-term strategy, says Geraty, positioning Alere to expand further.

Some of that expansion could come soon, he says .

“We’re a microcosm,” adds Geraty,”of what’s happening in the industry: consolidation, specialization.”

The challenge in the next few months, he says, is integration of staff, information systems and software to monitor the new diseases and conditions that the firm is taking on.


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