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Business Observer Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021 2 months ago

Social worker-turned-entrepreneur relishes counterintuitive strategy

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By going filling a gap in a crucial need, Elizabeth Dosoretz — starting well before the pandemic — is building a fast-growing mental health practice.
by: Beth Luberecki Contributor

Elizabeth Dosoretz has seen the importance of mental-health treatment firsthand. While practicing as a licensed clinical social worker in New York, she had her first child and wound up suffering from postpartum depression. Over the course of her recovery, she decided to move back to her native Fort Myers.

When she was ready to return to work, she set up an office in Southwest Florida. She wanted to take all insurances, including Medicaid and Medicare, to ensure patients received the mental-health assistance they needed. But she learned that referring patients out for other services would be difficult, since most other providers weren’t taking the same approach. (Many mental health providers shun government-backed insurance providers, due to confusing, and often decreasing, reimbursement rates.)

But Dosoretz decided to think bigger. She opened a clinic that offered both mental health therapy as well as additional services such as occupational, speech and behavioral therapy. “Talk about necessity being the mother of invention,” she says.

‘We want to make sure we don’t turn patients away. It’s so hard to get motivation to seek help sometimes. When they come through our door, I always say, ‘Please, let’s do everything we can.’’ Elizabeth Dosoretz, Elite DNA Therapy Services

That company, Elite DNA Therapy Services, first opened its doors in 2015 in a small space off Metro Parkway in Fort Myers. Today the company has 18 locations throughout Florida and just over 200 clinical providers. (Dosoretz declines to provide any revenue figures.)

“It still surprises me when I see it,” says Dosoretz. “But then I’m not that surprised, because I feel like if it’s happening here and people don’t have what they need, then it’s probably happening elsewhere too.”

Dosoretz originally started out focusing on children, but it quickly became clear adults needed help too. There was already a strong demand for mental health services before the pandemic, but the crisis has made that need even more pronounced. Elite DNA Therapy Services currently conducts about 1,000 visits a day across its 18 locations.

Some patients may already have a diagnosis like anxiety that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic. But others have developed new needs, especially among the younger population.

“We’re seeing more parents bringing in their children [on their own] now,” says Dosoretz. “There’s a different group of kids who were never diagnosed with anything prior to the pandemic. Their parents or someone in their circle have said they’re worried that the child seems withdrawn or is not really doing much. So it’s a whole new group of kids.”

Telehealth services and other technology platforms have helped the offices stay connected with patients and continue providing vital treatment throughout the course of the pandemic. “We were able to reach most of the patients,” says Dosoretz. “They were being seen. I was so worried about a huge gap in care, which thankfully did not happen.”

The latest offices to open are in the Sarasota and Orlando areas. When a new location is being considered, the most important factor is having clinicians in the area willing to work under the company’s business model of accepting all insurances.

“My nonnegotiable is do we have a clinician or clinicians who believe in what we do and want to do what we do,” says Dosoretz. “We want to make sure we don’t turn patients away. It’s so hard to get motivation to seek help sometimes. When they come through our door, I always say, ‘Please, let’s do everything we can.’”

Stefania Pifferi. Elizabeth Dosoretz founded Fort Myers-based Elite DNA Therapy Services in 2015.

Accepting all insurances means Elite DNA requires a credentialing team, a billing and revenue cycle team and team members who are certified coders and collectors. “From day one, we have had to invest in health care specialists and compliance experts to come in for trainings and keep our clinicians and team members up to date on any insurance changes,” says Dosoretz.

Because of this, the company focuses on efficiency and reducing unnecessary expenses. “Our administrative team is small, with no frills and no fancy offices,” she says. “We wear many hats and ensure everyone is held accountable and is responsible for specific outcomes….Our clinicians themselves assist in the understanding and implementation of the different requirements and expectations from the insurance plans. It’s really a collective effort.”

Elite DNA experienced some common growth hiccups in its earlier days. “I think over time we’ve made every single mistake,” says Dosoretz.

But she and her team have learned from them, and they now have a system in place for opening new locations. They know the ideal number of clinicians and medical assistants for each office and how the front desk should operate. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time,” she says. “We know what works….Having that blueprint is very helpful when we go into a new area.”

Dosoretz can also rely on some family support for help growing the company: her brother, Dr. Arie Dosoretz, co-founded Advocate Radiation Oncology in 2019, while their father, Dr. Daniel Dosoretz, formerly ran one of the largest oncology practices in the state, 21st Century Oncology.

Additional locations are a definite possibility down the road, and Elizabeth Dosoretz doesn’t see Elite DNA as being limited to Florida. “This is not just a Florida-only issue; it’s something that is everywhere,” she says. “So as long as we have clinicians on board for all the right reasons, I would go anywhere.”

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