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Private equity firm acquires ownership stake in physician-run health company


Seoul Medical Group offers primary care and specialty care in seven states.

stethoscope on chart graph business investment: © amazing studio - stock.adobe.com

© amazing studio - stock.adobe.com

Private equity firm Ascend Capital Partners has acquired a majority stake in a leading physician-run independent physician associations operating in seven states.

The firm has joined with Seoul Medical Group (SMG), with almost 400 primary care physicians and 4,400 specialists serving more than 70,000 patients in California, Georgia, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Washington. The companies announced the transaction this month.

SMG is the largest Korean-American-focused IPA, serving adult and senior patients. Internal medicine physician Min Young Cha, MD, started SMG and remains its president and chief executive officer. He is a health lecturer in Los Angeles and is a commentator about healthy living in the Korea Times and on various Korean television stations, according to his company biography.

SMG also owns Advanced Medical Management (AMM), a management services organization that supplies comprehensive administrative support to physicians, ranging from claims processing to quality training to credentialing.

“We are thrilled to partner with Ascend as we continue our strong growth trajectory, enhance efficiency and operational excellence across our footprint and deliver the highest standard of care for our patients,” AMM CEO Hank Lee said in a news release. “We look forward to working closely with the Ascend team as we benefit from additional financial and operational resources, technology and expertise to expand the services we offer, enhance our ability to serve our communities and ultimately improve access, affordability and quality of health care for our patients.”

Ascend Partners was started in 2019 with the vision to “transform the delivery of health care to vulnerable and disadvantaged communities,” according to the company’s website. The cofounders are In Seon Hwang, former global head of health care at Warburg Pincus and member of the Executive Management Group, and Richard Park, MD, an emergency medicine physician and founder of CityMD.

Ascend Partners aims “to deliver on its mission of creating premier community-focused health care companies equipped to manage Medicare and Medicaid patient populations.” The company touted its integrated team with expertise in private equity investment, entrepreneurialism and operations.

“During the past 30 years, SMG has experienced significant growth, rapidly expanding beyond California to become a leading healthcare provider in the U.S. with a focus on first- and second-generation Korean and other Asian American patient populations,” Hwang said in the news release. “We founded Ascend with the goal of building genuine partnerships with community-based healthcare providers and supporting them with operational expertise and financial resources. We are excited to work with SMG to deliver a consistent, coordinated and efficient experience for both physicians and patients.”

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