STRATHAM — A co-founder of ConvenientMD has received permission to build a 10,000 square foot medical practice at 23 Portsmouth Ave., on what is now overgrown land between 110 Grill and Market Basket.
The Stratham Planning Board approved on January 19 Optima Dermatology application to build what is billed as a state-of-the-art medical facility, including 18 examination rooms, an on-site Mohs skin cancer and pathology surgical unit.
“I think this is going to be one of the finest buildings in Stratham,” said Max Puyanic, co-founder of ConvenientMD.
ConvenientMD started with a single location in Windham in 2012. When Puyanic sold its stake in the business in 2019, it had grown to 24 facilities in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts. Puyanic and his partner, Ben Collins, the former chief growth officer of ConvenientMD which also sold in 2019, have similar ambitions for Optima Dermatology.
The Stratham site will open this spring, with two more facilities planned: one in Windham and one in Portland, Maine. Their initial business plan calls for seven locations in New Hampshire and six in Maine. They already operate 13 practices in Indiana and Ohio. The company employs 200 people, including around 50 at the practice support center on Heritage Avenue in Portsmouth.
“We’re about to embark on something huge here,” said Dr Brian Connolly, the dermatologist who will lead the team at Stratham.
Visible locations not to be missed
The Optima Dermatology building, located at the front of the lot on Portsmouth Avenue, will be hard to miss, and that’s by design.
“These are very visible and important places that you can’t miss, so people just know it’s there,” Puyanic said.
“These are facilities specifically designed for dermatology,” Puyanic said. “At ConvenientMD, part of the value proposition was that we built facilities designed solely for emergency care. Now we do it for dermatology. It’s new in the industry. We’re designing a physical space to allow us to provide very comprehensive dermatology by building these big, beautiful buildings that have all the right tools put in place in the right way to allow us to do the most for our patients.
Puyanic comes from the business side of the medical industry. Prior to co-founding ConvenientMD, he worked for William Blair & Co., helping set up financing for medical practices to expand or make acquisitions. Puyanic credits Collins with “helping with writing the business plan” for ConvenientMD.
When the two left the company in 2019, Puyanic said: “We analyzed each specialty and ultimately decided that dermatology was the specialty where there was the greatest need in New England, where we could significantly improve the model that patients are used to.”
High rates of skin cancer in NH, Maine
Puyanic and Collins say New Hampshire and Maine don’t have enough dermatologists, and that shortage is causing excessive wait times to see a doctor. This is unacceptable, they said, because skin cancer, if caught early, has an extremely high survival rate, but if left untreated it can quickly spread to many people. other organs, becoming much more dangerous.
“Waiting a long time to be seen is a bad idea,” Puyanic said.
Maine and New Hampshire are among the oldest and whitest states in the country and this demographic fact means both states have the highest skin cancer rates in the country, Dr. Connolly said.
Connolly is a Stratham resident who joined Optima Dermatology after several years of practice in Massachusetts. He went to medical school at Cornell University, did his internal medicine internship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and his dermatology residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
For the business plan to work, Puyanic and Collins will need to recruit many more top dermatologists in New Hampshire and Maine at a time when doctors and other medical professionals are in high demand.
“Our strategy is to attract the most qualified dermatologists to New Hampshire to create better access for patients,” Collins said. He said they would achieve this through high compensation, cutting-edge technology and enough support staff to allow their doctors to provide high-quality care while being as efficient as possible.
From February 1, Connolly will train in temporary offices on Hampton Road in Exeter, in the old courthouse which houses Access Sports Medicine. The plan is to move to the new Stratham facility towards the end of 2022.
The practice will provide a full range of dermatological services, diagnose and treat skin cancers using Mohs surgery, and treat the full range of medical skin conditions. It will also offer the latest in aesthetic skin care with over $1 million invested in the latest in aesthetic skin care technology.
“Aesthetically, if you can do it, we’ll get it,” Connolly said.
Puyanic said Optima Dermatology aims to provide “white glove treatment” to its clients, not only through high-quality care, but also through its well-designed facilities. The facilities include two electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lot that patients can use during their appointments.
“Our mission is to treat every patient the way you would want your friends and family to be treated,” Puyanic said. “We just want to blow people away with our customer service.”