LifeStance to Target Neuro-Psych Testing, Other High-Margin Services When It Resumes M&A

Outpatient behavioral health provider LifeStance (Nasdaq: LFST) is focusing on a more balanced approach to growth – at least until 2024 – as it moves into its “second chapter.”

That’s according to LifeStance CFO David Bourdon. The company will prioritize operational performance, profitable growth and a more tapered approach to deploying capital until 2024. During this time, the company will make many small investments in clinician recruiting, patient referrals and revenue cycle management.

But that’s not forever. LifeStance projects that it will be cash flow positive by 2025. This will allow it to increase its investments.


“I feel like [2025] is the transition year where … we start stepping on the gas, and there’s a couple of areas I point to. First would be M&A,” Bourdon said at Goldman Sachs’ Annual Global Healthcare Conference on Wednesday. “Once we have our foundation solid, then we’ll look at M&A opportunities, again, with positive free cash flow being able to fund those.”

When the company does begin to re-engage its M&A efforts, it plans to be “opportunistic and highly selective.”

“So really ensuring that those acquisitions don’t add a significant administrative burden on the organization,” Monica Prokocki, vice president of investor relations, said at the event.


Qualities that LifeStance would look at include payer mix and service lines, in addition to profitability, she said.

“We expect to reintroduce M&A, but just be very selective about it, and fund it from positive free cash flow,” Prokocki continued.

The second area where the company will be investing is in high-revenue and high-margin services. While this isn’t a new area for the company, it is something that could be more developed, according to Bourdon.

“I’ve talked on the calls about neuro-psych testing as an example,” Bourdon said. “There’s a number of these baskets of services that we do in little disparate places throughout the country that have come from our acquisitions, but taking those, standardizing them, operationalizing them and then rolling them out. And so I think that’s how we get from mid-teens organic growth, to stepping on the gas to a higher number.”

Over the last year, the company has introduced a number of ways to cut down on the administrative burden and lean into operational efficiencies. For example, it is terminating 30% of its payer contracts and consolidating its brick-and-mortar facilities.

Instead, it has invested in modernization efforts including an electronic health record discovery initiative and rolling out its online booking system.

In the company’s first quarter earnings call, CEO Ken Burdick similarly announced that it would be pulling back on its M&A strategy.

“We continue to shift toward organic growth versus acquired growth. In 2022, over 80% of our gross clinician adds were hired rather than acquired,” Burdick said on the Q1 earnings call. “Acquisitions were absolutely crucial to building scale in LifeStance’s early years. But with a broad footprint now in place across 34 states, we are hyper focused on the organic growth opportunity in this massive market.”

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