Career Path: OrthoNOW Co-Founder Alejandro Badia

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A childhood calling and a passion for innovation turned Dr. Alejandro Badia on to his latest venture.

Badia knew he wanted to be a hand surgeon at age of 8 when he accompanied his injured grandmother to the doctor and he witnessed orthopedic medicine firsthand. After graduating from New York University’s School of Medicine, Badia settled in Miami where he went on to become chief of hand surgery at Baptist Health Network, one of South Florida’s largest health networks.

Badia’s entrepreneurial streak beckoned when faced with a growing need to treat patients more efficiently. The bureaucracy he encountered dealing with large health institutions made Badia wonder whether there wasn’t a better way to handle orthopedic injuries.

In 2010, Badia founded OrthoNOW, a walk-in, urgent care clinic for patients seeking orthopedic care. The clinic has grown into a medical franchise that uses technology to better serve patients through app-based service. Badia’s OrthoNOW is one of Miami’s fastest-growing healthcare startups, boasting six franchise locations across Florida and Georgia. OrthoNOW projects it will open another 15 franchise locations by year’s end.

Here, Badia tells Crain’s Miami about his drive to offer patients a short cut to healthcare and his revolutionary app-based medical service.

Solve a problem:

After Baptist, I founded my own practice where the patient could be treated from start to finish right within my office, including surgery and rehabilitation. The only thing I was missing was a capture mechanism. I had to depend on the hospital to send me new patients, and those referrals were often wildly inefficient.

Build on that solution:

OrthoNOW is my effort at trying to improve healthcare efficiency. It was totally driven by frustration and needing a better mousetrap. Rather than trying to capture patients that go to an emergency room, where they’ll wait for hours and jump through hoop after hoop to receive specialized care, I thought, “Why not have our own emergency room focused on orthopedic care?” That was really the genesis of Ortho NOW.

Go beyond the conventional…

Healthcare is often way behind in terms of tech usage, and I’m not aware of any other medical facility using an app the way we’re using it. We call it On My Way NOW, which allows patients to sign in via the app and give our facilities their exact locations. So if an OrthoNOW clinic knows a patient is arriving in 25 minutes, when they limp in, the clinic will be ready and waiting with the appropriate response and treatment. Nobody’s done that in healthcare.

…And learn on the job

Doctors want to have ownership over their own clinics. They know what equipment to carry; they know their referral sources. And that’s why we did the franchise, and we’ve had a lot of success with that model. However, we’re finding that perhaps a joint-venture model might be better going forward. So we are very open to looking at healthcare investors right now.