Relias Learning, a provider of online analytics, assessments and learning for the healthcare market, has acquired River Cities Capital Fund’s portfolio company, Advanced Practice Strategies (APS). APS is an assessment, education and analytics company committed to helping healthcare professionals achieve their highest potential through innovation in learning. The acquisition increases the company’s presence in the acute care market, while launching the company into the pre-hire assessments category.

River Cities, became investors in APS in March 2015, leading a growth round alongside Ascension Ventures and Summation Health Ventures.  Over the less-than two-year investment horizon, APS more than doubled revenue and made a strategic acquisition in North-Carolina-based nurse pre-hire assessment company, Prophecy Healthcare.

With the acquisition, APS transitioned from an eLearning company to a talent management platform. Using APS, health systems could now assess and hire nurses effectively, onboard them faster to reduce risk of churn, educate them over time to provide higher-quality care and then focus on retention management throughout the life of the employee.

River Cities served as a value-added partner over the course of its APS investment. The firm helped the company focus on its key performance metrics, governance, compensation and assisted the company through the completion of the Prophecy acquisition. Another key role River Cities played was providing access to its robust network of industry players. For Boston-based APS, perhaps the most important introduction came from someone right in River Cities’ backyard.

“I saw an opportunity to add an outside board director and approached Jim Triandiflou, CEO of Relias Learning, a fast-growing division of Bertelsmann, who I had gotten to know through the local entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says River Cities Managing Director, Rik Vandevenne, who participated on the APS Board of Directors.

The conversation quickly turned from a potential board seat into something bigger – a possible acquisition. Given that River Cities had only been in the APS deal for a year, selling the company wasn’t the original intention. The plan was to continue to scale the business over the next two years before establishing a path to exit. Despite the short-hold period for the investment, the opportunity for APS to combine with Relias was not one to pass up.

“Getting connected to Relias at its most senior level was a helpful accelerator to us, and ultimately yielded a strong acquisition offer for the company. It was a pleasure to work with both Relias and River Cities,” says Russ Richmond, former CEO of APS.

By adding APS’ assessment tools to existing analytics and learning products, Relias now offers healthcare providers a solution that delivers a continuous “performance improvement” cycle.  This will allow clients to assign training to learners where they need it most, continuously improve performance against quality measures, and ultimately improve patient outcomes and reimbursement rates under value-based payment programs.

“With this acquisition, Relias furthers its position in acute care by adding sophisticated, highly clinical training for doctors and nurses who deliver babies, provide care for new moms, and provide emergency care,” explained Triandiflou. “In addition, with the Prophecy pre-hire assessment tool, Relias adds a new product to our portfolio that helps hospitals place the right nurse for their organization. By combining pre-hire assessments with our core learning product, healthcare providers can be smarter about training, and as a result improve care and realize cost savings.”

Relias announced in 2016 that it planned to add 450 employees over five years at its Cary, NC headquarters.

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