The health care industry is big business in Mississippi. The industry has over $11.9 billion in annual economic impact, provides Mississippi with more than $484 million in annual tax revenues and accounts for seven percent of the gross state product. Gov. Bryant targeted the industry as one of three key areas for economic development. In my own experience working with entrepreneurs, I have seen a number of fast-growth health care-related organizations that have created jobs and wealth in our state. Health care today is a complex and challenging environment to do business. However, for savvy entrepreneurs, it is an incredible time of opportunity.
Don Davenport, CEO of SMS Healthcare Management, LLC, is one of those forward-thinking entrepreneurs. Davenport and his partners have teamed up to create a new company — BARInet Preferred Provider Network, LLC. They created BARInet to clinically integrate hospitals and physicians to “offer the best possible bariatric care for patients.” Davenport is passionate about utilizing their innovative integrated model to make an impact on how bariatric health care is delivered across the country.
Davenport candidly shared with me his own personal experience with the challenges of obesity. “My father suffered from morbid obesity and had a stroke related to his disease in 1996,” Davenport said. He continued, “His stroke was not fatal at the time, but it forever changed the lives of our family, especially my mother, until his death 15 years later. If I had known in 1996 what I know now, I believe my father’s life would have been markedly different.” Davenport has seen the impact of morbid obesity on a first hand basis, and noted, “I’ve also seen what world-class disease management of morbid obesity can do to change lives.”
In 2004 after a successful career in banking, Davenport became CEO of SMS Healthcare Management, a large multi-specialty clinic in South Mississippi. He said, “One of the first things I realized as an administrator was there was very limited access to bariatric surgery. Few health care plans offered the benefit, and if they did, the benefit was not very comprehensive and almost impossible for the employee to access.” Davenport found that hundreds of patients each year would come to their clinics, but could not have surgery due to limited or no coverage in their employer benefit plans. Based on the patient need and the desire for employers to manage health care costs, Davenport and his partners saw an opportunity to bring an innovative service to the market. For patients, BARInet provides quality management to insure that they are getting the most comprehensive medical weight management available, and for employers, BARInet offers a “bundled price” coupled with risk assurance.
Davenport is an execution-oriented leader. Managing a large multi-specialty medical clinic is no easy task. As a leader, Davenport has demonstrated the ability to get things done and focus his team on success. His new company allows him to utilize his leadership skills in combination with his passion for the subject of weight management. Other developing entrepreneurs should take note of the importance of bringing a combined skill set to run a business. Davenport has teamed up with a nationally recognized bariatric surgeon to provide clinical oversight as medical director, a managed health care specialist, an insurance executive,and a health care benefits executive.to provide the necessary skills to bring a service like this to the market. BARInet is already expanding outside of Mississippi and will likely be having an impact soon on the way bariatric services are provided across the country in the next few years. I hope more Mississippi entrepreneurs will seize this moment in time to create visionary companies to drive the state forward.
Up Close With Donald S. Davenport
Title: CEO, SMS Healthcare Management, LLC; co-founder, BARInet Preferred Provider Network, LLC
Favorite Books: Little Red Book (Harvey Penick); Good to Great (Jim Collins)
First Job: “Delivery person-Pascagoula Auto Parts (they gave me keys to the company truck at 15 years old)”
Hobbies/Interests: Family time and golf
Martin Willoughby is a business consultant and regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. He serves as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC and can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.