Profiles: Allan H. Rappaport

Allan H. Rappaport

Allan H. Rappaport

JD Law 85, Alumnus of the Year 98

Founder at NES Healthcare Group

Doctor, Lawyer, Entrepreneur-in-Chief

It was the late 1960s when Allan Rappaport, a recent Oberlin College graduate, came to a crucial fork in the road. The young Toledo, Ohio, native had arrived at the liberal arts college four years earlier with the idea of preparing for law school and ultimately a career in politics and government service. He'd taken the admissions exams for both law school and medical school. Now, he had to decide: Which would it be? Finally, he settled on the Washington University Medical School. Little could the aspiring medical student have imagined how those seemingly divergent paths would one day converge. Today, approximately 30 American colleges and universities offer joint MD/JD degrees, among them some of the nation's top institutions. He was involved in science and medicine for 12 years and got involved in business along the way. He would be a practicing radiologist with an office in Tiburon and the CEO of a rapidly expanding new company, NE (National Emergency Services), specializing in hospital staffing when he arrived at the GGU Law School in 1981. He had 40 small contracts by that time.

His business has always required a lot of travel, so he often had to miss classes. He would have friends tape the course and catch up later. For Rappaport, finishing the law degree fulfilled a longtime dream that had been derailed by an unfortunate encounter with a professor of government years before.

NES Healthcare Group is today a privately held company that provides physician coverage and administration of emergency departments at hospitals throughout the world. One of the nation's largest physician practice management firms, the $85 million revenue company is headquartered in Tiburon, with regional offices throughout the United States and overseas locations in Germany, Italy, South Africa and the United Kingdom, where it is the largest providers of doctors in that nation. Globally, the company serves more than 130 healthcare facilities providing more than 750 physicians with management, financial and billing services, and software and system support. NES suggested the bold move of guaranteeing patients would be seen in the Allen Community Hospital ER in under an hour. As a result, the medical center moved into the 90th percentile in patient satisfaction scores.

The idea for NES came to Rappaport while he was a resident in therapeutic radiology at the University of California, San Francisco, medical campus and moonlighting in an area emergency room. He'd arrived at UCSF for his internship and residency after graduating in 1972 from medical school in St. Louis.

He was at Moffitt Hospital, Mt. Zion, Franklin and the VA, but credits the most interesting experience at San Francisco General, which introduced Rappaport to emergency medicine. As it turned out, that rotation would become a career-altering experience in many ways. San Francisco General has long been the city's trauma center and is one of the busiest ERs in the nation. Growing up on the front-lines of emergency medicine was, in many ways, an eye-opener for the young physician, who began to envision a better way of doing things. NES quickly attracted attention in the business world and was named one of America's Fastest Growing Companies in 1982 by The Inc. 500. Rappaport was a finalist in the 1992 Entrepreneur of the Year award. The company ultimately grew to become one of the nation's largest physician-owned multi-specialty contract management firms. The importance of such physician-management companies to a hospital's bottom line is significant because more than half of all hospital admissions originate in the ER. Not surprisingly, estimates are that well over half of the hospital emergency departments are now staffed by firms like NES.

As NES grew, the NES Healthcare Group consisted of multiple separate and distinct entities. NES Government Services staffs medical facilities for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Veterans Administration and Indian Health Services, as well as federal and state correctional institutions throughout the country. Additionally, NES International was formed in 1990 to provide medical services to military treatment facilities throughout the world. NES Healthcare United Kingdom (NES UK) is currently one of the largest providers of doctors in the UK, working with more than 100 hospitals, including the National Health Service. The UK company is separate from the domestic US business. Legal issues don't come up there to the extent they do in this country. On a relative basis, 5% of the litigation is in the UK compared to the United States. It is in this area that Rappaport has found the most use for his GGU Law degree.

A few years ago, Allan stepped down as the CEO of the company he founded. Allan Rappaport currently serves as chairman emeritus of NES. Allan is still available to oversee certain litigation for the company and consultation for the attorneys. As a practitioner, Dr. Rappaport has never been sued for mal- practice, but as he is quick to point out, the United States is a litigious society when it comes to medicine. He credits his law school years with providing the foundation to work with attorneys.

"I can effectively interact with the attorneys whom we have representing us because I have the law school background, which provides a better understanding of the intricacies, some of the pitfalls or benefits of going in one direction or another. I have a healthy exchange with the lawyers, thanks to my experience at Golden Gate.

So while I didn't pursue practicing law, I'm indirectly practicing by virtue of being available to consult with company personnel in merger and acquisition activities of the company, medical malpractice litigation, and contractual issues that may arise from time to time. So I'm appreciative for the experience that I gained at Golden Gate."

He was the 1998 GGU Alumnus of the Year and received the comparable honor from Washington University two years later. He is also a member of the Washington University School of Medicine's National Council. Rappaport is active in advisory roles for each of his professional schools. In 1996 he sponsored the Rappaport Reunion Challenge to all medical alumni to increase the school's Eliot Society membership and participation in annual giving.

He joined the GGU Board of Trustees in the mid-1990s, stepping down when he relocated to Seattle. Later, he was recruited as the inaugural chair of the law school advisory committee, where he served for several years.

Indeed, Rappaport and the NES executives are figuring out ways to participate in that evolution in American healthcare. He envisions, for example, healthcare delivery in chain pharmacies and big-box stores. The challenge is figuring out the new models and where NES fits in the overall picture.

Lately, though, he's turned his interests toward international travel and building an art collection, including works by Rodin, which have been donated to a museum. His love for Rodin sculptures started during his undergrad work on a nine-month study abroad trip to Europe. He has also traveled to London and Brazil for the Olympics and World Cup.