Ron Spielberger silences his phone as it sounds a flurry of calls, messages, and alerts. He doesn’t mind. In fact, the general counsel at Personal Touch Home Care (PTHC) wears it as a badge of honor. “If your phone is quiet, you might think everything is great, but it probably means you’re about to get sued due to the legal department getting bypassed,” he says. By contrast, a lawyer with a busy phone and a full inbox is certain others at the company need and value their advice and input.
The trusted attorney spent the last three decades building his expertise and experience in home healthcare, medical device, health insurance, and related industries. Although he started his career with a mid-sized Park Avenue law firm, Spielberger quickly transitioned to in-house roles to get more involved in business strategy and find a better work/life balance.
“Working as a corporate healthcare lawyer has helped me achieve many of my personal and professional goals,” he says. Keri, Spielberger’s wife of twenty-seven years, gave up a retail career to raise the couple’s four children, and he’s been able to coach all in soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. “I coach with passion, in the same fashion as I bring my devotion to the workplace each and every day to help my clients navigate the obstacles they face in a heavily regulated healthcare industry,” he says.
After working for big pharma, a Fortune 500 medical device company, managed care providers, physician practice groups, and others, Spielberger opened his own practice in 2016. The Law Firm of Ronald J. Spielberger negotiated healthcare industry commercial agreements and provided legal advice regarding employment law matters and compliance issues.
In 2019, after serving as a temporary general counsel, Spielberger joined PTHC full time to manage all legal affairs for the privately held home care company. This included joining the effort to oversee the legal needs of the company’s long-term care insurance plan Integra Managed Care, which has provided Spielberger the opportunity to use all his previously developed skills.
He works alongside the CEO, CFO, and COO and leads two paralegals. Together, they review and negotiate contracts, handle corporate governance issues, manage litigation, run the company risk and insurance programs, and render employment law advice for a company with home care operations in five states, five thousand home health aides, and seven thousand total employees.
“Legal has to be both responsive and business friendly. We need to understand business goals and help internal clients get where they need to go in a legal and compliant manner.”Ron Spielberger
The nature of the business requires the team to prioritize and multitask. “Legal has to be both responsive and business friendly,” Spielberger says. “We need to understand business goals and help internal clients get where they need to go in a legal and compliant manner.”
One of the lean legal department’s most important jobs is working with IT and others to mitigate risks and vulnerabilities related to cybersecurity and patient data. In November 2019, PTHC experienced the first of two security breaches. The event occurred through a third party that managed company servers. Then, in 2021, the organization took a ransomware hit.
As his IT colleagues worked to recover data and get systems back online, Spielberger and the incident response team worked to notify the 750,000 patients, employees, and ex-employees whose data may have been compromised. Now, he’s helping leaders respond to government inquiries and managing related lawsuits.
In an era where all healthcare companies are vulnerable to cyberthreat actors, communication, integrity, transparency, and collaboration are key. As general counsel, Spielberger implemented a process with IT to ensure the completion of a security risk assessment for all vendors and partners, minimizing future breach risks.
The IT department also has taken several steps in response. They installed CrowdStrike endpoint detection and response software with 24/7 monitoring, upgraded antivirus systems to include AI learning, implemented multifactor authentication, and rolled out mobile device management and password management systems upgrades.
“As outside legal counsel to Personal Touch for many years, I’ve enjoyed working with Ron in a variety of contexts,” says Gregory R. Begg, Partner & Co-Chair, Labor Relations & Employment Law of Peckar & Abramson, P.C. “It is clear that Ron is highly skilled at anticipating risks and at crafting efficient, practical solutions to often complex challenges involving corporate transactions, litigation, labor relations, compliance, and other matters concerning his organization.”
Insurance protection also remains critical to the general counsel. Spielberger works with other executives and partners with a broker (the Signature B&B Companies) to ensure the organization possesses the right coverage for errors and omissions, professional liability, directors and officers, and cyber liability.
“The pandemic revealed the need for better care solutions, and we are in the right place to do what we can to meet that need.”Ron Spielberger
Having worked with the general counsel, the team at Signature B&B says, “Ron’s deep understanding and knowledge of both insurance and law speak volumes. But it is his integrity, professionalism, and commitment to excellence that are key to the success of our relationship. Ron’s vision and passion for excellence allows our organizations to work together developing risk management solutions leading Personal Touch’s best-in-class practices.”
Over the last year, leaders at PTHC worked overtime to prepare for another major milestone—the sale of Integra Managed Care to Anthem. As part of the process, Spielberger and the deal team responded to more than 1,200 due diligence questions throughout the information exchange process. The deal closed on May 5, 2022.
At the same time, PTHC completed its own acquisition on the home care side of the business. The company bought Neighbors Home Care, a New York-licensed home care services agency in the Bronx—further bolstering PTHC as one of the state’s largest home care agencies.
As consolidation in the home healthcare industry drives many old companies out of business, PTHC looks to leverage its strong infrastructure and operational support to fill the gap and capitalize on the opportunity. “The pandemic revealed the need for better care solutions, and we are in the right place to do what we can to meet that need,” Spielberger says.
Going forward, PTHC plans to pursue both organic growth and additional acquisitions. That means Ron Spielberger should be busy—and he’s waiting by the phone.