CHICAGO and NASHVILLE, Tenn. (October 18, 2021) – Versant Diagnostics, a physician services company focused on anatomic pathology, announced its formation today as part of a partnership between Alliance Pathology Consultants, healthcare entrepreneurs Jim Billington and Brian Carr, and healthcare private equity firm Iron Path Capital. The partnership also announced its addition of Addison Central Pathology, a leading anatomic pathology provider serving the hospital and physician’s office markets in the Chicago metro area. The combined entity, Versant Diagnostics, is now one of the largest independent physician-led pathology groups in the Midwest. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“The coming together of these incredible partners is the realization of my vision for a national practice of highly specialized pathologists focused on the mission of physician-led advancements in anatomic pathology and cancer diagnoses that until recently, with the introduction and FDA approval of Digital Pathology and other innovations, were simply not possible,” said Ven Aduana, M.D., nationally recognized leader in the adoption and implementation of Digital Pathology and Precision Medicine. Dr. Aduana has served as president of Alliance Pathology Consultants since 1995, and is now chairman, Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of Versant Diagnostics.
Anatomic pathology is centered around the diagnosis of cancer and other diseases and medical conditions through the microscopic examination primarily of tissue, and it is a necessary component of care in both the hospital and physician office settings. Digital Pathology, first approved by the FDA in April 2017, is a dynamic, image-based environment that enables the acquisition, management and interpretation of pathology information generated from a digitized glass slide. While the implementation and adoption of Digital Pathology is still in its infancy across most of the world, it is widely believed that this technology will become the standard of care in the near future, much like the digital transformation of radiology some years ago.
“Versant is already leading the technology transformation, as one of the earliest and broadest adopters of Digital Pathology. The Iron Path Capital funding provides us with a unique, almost once-in-a-generation opportunity for growth and value creation in the pathology space,” said Versant CEO Jim Billington, who will be working side-by-side with Dr. Aduana to advance the consolidation of industry-leading anatomic pathology practices. “Pathology is a central component of multiple rapidly-evolving aspects of the healthcare landscape with advances in both Precision Medicine and Integrated Diagnostics fueling demand for pathology expertise at a time when their services are more needed than ever. It’s the perfect storm, and we have a model and an experienced physician and executive team that’s perfect for the moment.”
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Physician Specialty Data Books, the workload for pathologists has increased 41.7% over the last decade, with demand driven by an aging population and growing incidence of cancer. As such, the need for efficient, digital-enabled companies such as Versant is becoming increasingly acute. However, most smaller pathology groups lack the size, funding, and ability to implement cutting-edge technologies.
“We decided that a strategic alignment with a proven financial partner would allow Versant to more effectively achieve its mission of consolidating the broadest range of sub-specialty experts under one tech-enabled umbrella,” Billington added. “We are excited to partner with Iron Path Capital given their experience in multi-site physician practice management, executive experience growing great businesses and their commitment to clinical excellence, the hallmark of Alliance and Addison.”
Iron Path Capital co-founder Rob Reistetter said: “There are a number of disruptive forces at play in pathology that will drive expanded demand for scaled, well-capitalized, technology-forward platforms, and we think Versant, with its proven executive leadership team and deep clinical expertise, is that platform. We’re excited to help them grow, scale and transform an area of sub specialization that’s only beginning to realize its potential.”