Healthcare Runs in the Family

How Rhonda Longmore-Grund leverages her family’s long history of caregiving and her Fortune 500 experience to help Alliance HealthCare Services grow here and abroad

Rhonda Longmore-Grund has been a successful financial executive everywhere from Fortune 500 companies to tech start-ups. But she always felt healthcare was her destiny.

When Alliance HealthCare Services hired Longmore-Grund as its executive VP and chief financial officer in March 2016, she joined a field that her family knew very well.

“My mom is a nurse, one of my grandmothers was a nurse, my sisters-in-law are nurses and imaging technicians, and I have seven aunts on my father’s side who are nurses,” Longmore-Grund says. “I grew up in this culture. I often wondered if I should step back and go into nursing.”

Instead of nursing, she is using her knack for numbers and problem solving to help Alliance realize ambitious expansion plans. She came to Alliance from the global industrial print technology company Printronix, where, as senior VP and CFO, she helped that company find and foster opportunities for growth in the United States and abroad. She has also spent significant time working in more than fifteen countries through the course of her finance career.

“As I looked at the next phase of my life, it was important that I go someplace that had a lot of meaning for me,” Longmore-Grund says. “I get really energized by companies that understand their mission and value and how they’re helping their customers. The human element of the mission at Alliance was incredibly important to my decision.”

Making Time for Charity Work

People with the means to help others often lack the time to do it. That hasn’t stopped Rhonda Longmore-Grund, though. Somehow, the executive VP and CFO of Alliance HealthCare Services carves out time in her schedule for the American Red Cross.

Longmore-Grund is currently the vice chair of the Orange County chapter of the Red Cross and has served other leadership roles there through the years.

“I have a secret hope to volunteer on the ground, but it’s hard with the day-to-day in my profession,” she says. “What I love about the Red Cross is they are really reaching out and helping people regardless of who they are. It cuts through all those barriers to fulfill an extraordinary mission.”

Alliance HealthCare Services offers outsourced healthcare services through three divisions: Alliance Radiology, Alliance Interventional, and Alliance Oncology. The company works with more than 1,000 hospitals, operating 619 diagnostic radiology and radiation therapy systems, 32 radiation therapy centers and stereotactic radiosurgery facilities, and 21 interventional pain management clinics and ambulatory surgery centers across the country.

Longmore-Grund says her family’s healthcare legacy has certainly been an asset to her work at Alliance. She often talks shop with her mother, who, in her early seventies, is still a practicing nurse.

“It’s been interesting to hear her side of the story and some of the challenges she has,” Longmore-Grund says. “It’s helped me relate to those challenges and the changing regulatory environment. I think my mom has had a lot of influence on me in terms of the whole concept of patient care. At the end of the day, compassionate patient care comes first. In healthcare services, this always needs to be our primary mission.”

A crucial part of patient care is good communication with the patient. So, it’s not surprising that Longmore-Grund has worked hard at that aspect of her job early on at Alliance.

“I’ve spent a lot of time talking with team members, trying to build enterprise-oriented thinking and integration,” she says. “We need to think about the broader Alliance and how we connect to provide the most integrated and seamless level of service and value to our patients and partners.”That will remain increasingly important as Alliance pursues expanding into China. The move was another reason Longmore-Grund was attracted to Alliance.

“China is a very large market with a lot of need,” she says. “There’s been a lot of regulatory change in China that is fostering more private investment in healthcare. This shift is providing a lot of opportunity for businesses like Alliance to enter into the market, applying the exceptional standards of care we have in the United States—along with our tools, platforms, and training—to people on the ground there.”

Throughout her career, Longmore-Grund has helped other companies expand abroad, and she believes that the big challenge with China in particular is staying focused on core initiatives.

“Many companies find that when they go to China, there’s a vast need and desire from the population for their goods and services,” she says. “Often, focus is one of the hardest things because there are so many opportunities. Where do you start?”

Having the support of China-based Tahoe Investment Group Co. Ltd., which became the majority shareholder of Alliance in March of 2016, helps. However, given the vast market and completely different regulatory environment, Alliance is proceeding cautiously with its China plans, studying the market, and taking an asset-light approach to entry.

On top of that initiative, Longmore-Grund is examining the capital structure of the company for both US and international operations.

“Alliance has been in a turnaround for the last three years and has invested heavily in growth,” she says. “Now, I’m trying to help navigate through our continued expansion in the United States and China, looking at the capital structure we need to take us through the next several years.”

Doing so will take greater communication with investors to help them understand the company’s strategy and plans. Since she joined the company, Longmore-Grund and CEO Tom Tomlinson have been very focused on increasing their communications to share the Alliance story. The company had been relatively quiet in investor relations for a number of years, but that is changing. One thing is for sure: Investors will not only hear more about the company’s plans and actions. They’ll also note the enthusiasm from the CFO.

Longmore-Grund loves where she is, continuing her family’s tradition of patient care. She’s eager to help Alliance go global while continuing with its growth strategy in the US market.

“It’s an exciting time for the company,” she explains. “Operating globally is different from operating in the United States. It takes a lot of patience and cultural sensitivity, but I think it’s quite exciting to be helping people around the world.”