Revolutionizing Rheumatology: A Game-Changing Group Paves the Way for Independent Rheumatology Practices

In the world of healthcare, where corporate giants often overshadow the independent practitioners, a new dawn is breaking for rheumatology. Introducing The Leaders Rheum (TLR), a groundbreaking initiative designed to elevate independent rheumatology practices, revolutionize patient care, and enhance financial viability. In this article, we explore how TLR could very well reshape the future of rheumatology.

A Need for Change
The field of rheumatology has long been dominated by larger healthcare systems and corporations. Independent rheumatologists, despite their dedication and expertise, have struggled to keep pace with the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare. Rising administrative burdens, complex reimbursement processes, and limited access to cutting-edge resources have threatened the very essence of independent rheumatology practices.

Visionary Leadership
Enter The Leaders Rheum. Comprising of a dynamic group of forward-thinking business and healthcare experts, TLR aims to address these challenges head-on. At its helm are three industry pioneers, CEO, Ray Waldrup, President, Mike Chavez, and CFO, Scott Gilomen, who have spearheaded the development of the largest rheumatology and oncology groups in the nation. Their impressive track records and shared commitment to advancing healthcare have set the stage for a transformative journey.

“I’m excited to be a part of this initiative and to be collaborating with executives who are from the rheumatology space as we understand physicians’ practices inside and out. This partnership will bring significant value, expertise and insights that will be an extremely beneficial game-changer in rheumatology. Our deep knowledge of the field is invaluable as we work to revolutionize patient care and drive innovation,” said Ray Waldrup, CEO & Co-Founder.

Clinical Excellence
TLR provides its members access to a network of leading rheumatology experts and subspecialists. This collaborative approach fosters knowledge sharing, case discussions, and continuous learning, ultimately leading to enhanced patient care.

Cutting-Edge Technology
Staying up-to-date with the latest technological advancements can be challenging for smaller practices. TLR invests in state-of-the-art tools, electronic health records (EHR) systems, telemedicine capabilities, and data analytics to help its members provide the best care while reducing administrative hassles.

AI-Powered Innovations
TLR is not just revolutionizing patient care and financial sustainability; it’s also transforming the way independent practices operate. Through cutting-edge AI technologies, and by leveraging data from NextGen Healthcare and other major EHR systems, TLR is developing solutions that improve disease management, cash flow management, and office workflow efficiency. These innovations will equip rheumatologists to deliver more precise care, optimize financial processes, and streamline office operations.

“I am thrilled to be part of this movement in rheumatology at The Leaders Rheum, a company truly dedicated to transparency, elevating independent rheumatologists and transforming the landscape of rheumatology. Our commitment to our core values ensures that we not only lead the way in healthcare innovation but also uphold the principles that make our mission exceptional. Together, we’re shaping a future where independent practitioners truly thrive, and patient care reaches new heights,” said President and Co-Founder, Mike Chavez.

Financial Sustainability
Independent practices often struggle with the intricate world of healthcare reimbursement and financial management. TLR offers a comprehensive suite of financial support services, including streamlined billing and coding solutions, negotiation assistance with payers, and group purchasing power to reduce
overhead costs.

“These are exciting times for rheumatology and I am delighted to be a part of such a forward thinking group. TLR was created specifically for rheumatology practices by actual leaders in the space. We propel rheumatology practices forward positioning them at the edge of innovation, financial success, and exceptional patient care. The combined knowledge of TLR accelerates the ability to focus on patients with the confidence that practices are financially secure,” said Scott Gilomen, CFO.

Join the Movement
TLR is not just another super group; it’s a very different and transformative force in rheumatology. By joining The Leaders Rheum, independent practices can thrive in an increasingly competitive healthcare environment. Together, we can reshape the future of rheumatology, making it more patient-centric, financially sustainable, and professionally fulfilling.

Advocacy and Representation
TLR represents its members on both the regional and national levels, advocating for policies that benefit independent rheumatologists. This collective voice ensures that independent practices have a seat at the table when crucial decisions are made.

Improving Patient Care
The primary mission of TLR is to elevate patient care standards in rheumatology. By providing resources that empower independent rheumatologists, TLR ensures that patients receive the highest quality of care. Patients benefit from faster access to specialists, personalized treatment plans, and a collaborative approach to managing complex rheumatic diseases.

The Leaders Rheum is a beacon of hope for independent rheumatology practices. With its commitment to clinical excellence, financial sustainability, access to cutting-edge technology, and advocacy efforts, TLR is poised to revolutionize patient care and support the practitioners who dedicate their lives to it. As the world of rheumatology embarks on this exciting new journey, one thing is clear: the future is bright for independent rheumatologists, thanks to The Leaders Rheum.


Director of Affiliate Development

Eliot Appel

Eliot brings over 35 years of experience in all aspects of physician practice management, growth, and sustainability.

Having worked with some of the most successful rheumatology practices all over the country, he has played an integral role working directly with partnering practices to provide guidance on financial performance, human resources, EMR systems, the billing cycle, purchasing, compliance, practice expansion, succession planning, ancillary services, etc.

Eliot’s previous work experience and accomplishments include managing the growth and development of a national rheumatology practice in nearly 30 states. He was also the Executive Director of Gastro Health, P.L., a 40+ provider Gastroenterology practice based in South Miami and was instrumental in its start-up.

Prior to Gastro Health, Eliot was the Executive Director of South Florida ENT Associates, a 35+ provider group practice in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. He has worked in the multi-specialty group setting as the Chief Financial Officer for the Florida Institute of Health and in his early career he gained CPA experience from Grant Thornton, a large, international C.P.A. firm.  Eliot earned his B.S. in Accounting from the University of Florida.

Chief Creative Officer

Victoria Giambattista

Vicky brings 15 years of marketing, branding and creative services to the healthcare space, beginning her career with agency experience and moving to medical device, surgical accreditation, and SaaS software organizations.

She has a proven track record of standing up marketing departments and building sustainable growth models within creative teams. She is well-versed in sales enablement, operations, client engagement and retention programs, along with tech stack development and optimization. Vicky’s efficient and effective strategies and tactics create workflows that save time and help streamline and shorten the sales cycle.

Outside of work, she enjoys watching historical documentaries, wine tasting and interior design.

President & Co-Founder

Mike chavez

Mike Chavez is a seasoned healthcare veteran and has played an integral role in the inception and development of national rheumatology provider networks, working with hundreds of care centers all over the United States.

He brings a wealth of knowledge on the growth and successful development of medical offices while also working with industry and pharma to support clinical initiatives, and strategic partnerships. Additionally, he leads our CIO Board Clinical Initiatives & Outcomes working with both pharma and physicians to develop new treatments, diagnostic tools, and pathways to deliver improved patient outcomes.

In 2020, Mike was nominated and awarded by the International Forum for Advancements in Healthcare as one of the “Top 100 Leaders in Healthcare” and the “Who’s Who Top Executives in America”.

In his free time, Mike enjoys mixed martial arts, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, and spending time with his Frenchie, Nutella.

Director, Revenue Cycle Management

Leila Ballard

Leila Ballard is a seasoned healthcare business professional with over 30 years in roles ranging from Certified Medical Assistant to Practice Manager.

She has a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration along with multiple certifications under her belt. Leila has worked as a consultant for the last two years in software system management within multiple specialties.

One of her most significant contributions to the rheumatology space is when she helped grow a single doctor practice to one of the largest rheumatology groups in the country. Leila is excited to shift her focus to achieving our clients’ practice and financial goals.

Leila lives in the low country of South Carolina with her husband and teenage son. She is a foodie and loves to travel.


Ray Waldrup

As a 30-year veteran in healthcare, Ray Waldrup has a broad knowledge of all aspects of medical practices. He credits his early years of owning a medical billing and consulting company for his unique understanding of where monies are made and lost. He has successfully expanded medical practices in anesthesia and critical care to multiple locations and cities while personally recruiting providers.

In 2009, Ray joined a 4-doctor rheumatology practice with one location in Charleston, SC. After a few years, he formed what became the largest rheumatology practice in the country.

Ray has also revolutionized infusion suites by aggregating purchase volume and negotiating differential contracts others could not. He has helped significantly reduce physician burnout through a 4-day work week, while still increasing practice revenue. He’s most proud of the many physician friends he has made and how they recognize him for improving their quality of life.

In 2019, Ray led the formation of a rheumatology-specific GPO that quickly grew to over 300 members in 18 months. By 2021, he was leading a practice of 26 locations in 9 states with 65 physicians and over 300 employees. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf, pickleball, and boating in Naples, Florida.



Scott Gilomen brings over 25 years of executive management experience in the healthcare industry with a heavy focus on rheumatology and oncology. His primary areas of expertise include financial analysis, pharmaceutical and supply contracting, implementation of new ancillary services, direct management of revenue cycle, medical real estate acquisitions and oversight, physician and advanced practice provider hiring, and management of facilities and staff.

In 1996, Scott joined an oncology practice in Gastonia, NC as the Executive Director. That’s where he developed expansion plans and opened new clinics in multiple locations. He implemented patient care initiatives including chronic care management (CCM) and physician dispensing, technology initiatives including electronic health record (EHR) and patient self check-in.

Scott’s multi-faceted experience as a leader drew the attention of ION Solutions GPO Advisory Panel and was invited to serve in 2008. He collaborated with other panel members to review and advise pharmaceutical companies on current and proposed GPO contracts, patient assistance/access programs, and product launches.

Scott moved from oncology to rheumatology as CEO for a 15-provider group in 2019. Five months in, and despite great obstacles and unprecedented variables with COVID, Scott quickly pivoted to implementing telehealth in less than a week. The infusion suite never closed and patient care was maintained with little to no delay. Other implementations included patient self check-in, CCM, physician dispensing, new insurance verification and prior authorization systems, and clinical trials.

Outside of work Scott enjoys walking, swimming, gardening, golfing, and spending time with his family and pets.