Local physicians join Novant Medical Group

BY JILL DOSS-RAINES
http://www.the-dispatch.com

Several Lexington doctors’ offices will soon be part of the Novant Medical Group but will continue to treat their Davidson County patients locally, using Lexington Memorial Hospital for inpatient and outpatient services and testing, the doctors said this week.

Novant Medical Group is a network of more than 1,000 doctors and 262 clinics in North Carolina and South Carolina, including Thomasville Medical, Forsyth Medical and Rowan Regional Medical centers.

The practices joining the group are Piedmont Women’s Healthcare with Dr. Martin Allen and certified nurse midwife Barbara Evans; Lexington Primary Care with Drs. Jon Hinson and Mark Weiser and physician assistants Gina Snider and Heather Yates-Davis; and Davidson Urology with Dr. Phillip Marks. Piedmont Women’s Healthcare and Lexington Primary Care will join March 1 while Davidson Urology will join April 1. Allen said he knows of one other local practice in negotiations with Novant now.

“The main point is Novant is a very attractive organization,� Allen said. “They are not buying my practice. We are merging. Novant can bring together forces that can make private practice more attractive.�

In letters going out to the private practices’ patients soon, the doctors write that the decision to merge with Novant was attractive because of what the group can offer not only their practices but the patients in Davidson County.

“NMG support will help us to recruit and retain in our local community new primary care providers so that we can better meet your family’s healthcare needs,� Hinson and Weiser wrote. “We hope to be able to expand our services, extend our clinic hours and improve and update our practice’s technological capabilities.�

Novant’s large number of physicians lends the group power when negotiating prices for office supplies, medical equipment and reimbursements from insurance companies, Allen noted.

“Novant is extremely efficient, extremely motivated and an extremely well-run organization,� Allen said. “They can get things done that many other groups can’t.�

Marks said he wanted to merge with Novant because the group offers his practice support and is a stable organization that has a proven track record in managing health care.

“I will be able to add services to my practice and moving into technology I could not personally afford on my own,� he said. “I’ve been trying for 3 1/2 years to get a partner here. The prospects of getting a partner if I am with a large group are much better.�

For a private practice, negotiating reimbursements with insurance companies is frustrating, the doctors said. The small practices and small medical groups do not have the bargaining power of larger medical groups such as Novant.

“They (insurance companies) wouldn’t even let us in the room,� Hinson said, referring to negotiating time. “It would be like a mom-and-pop store going to China to negotiate prices for products compared to Wal-Mart. It’s just business.�

All doctors stressed that their contracts with Novant specify they will continue to use Lexington Memorial Hospital, and Novant will not force them to refer patients to group hospitals in the Piedmont.

“Practice referrals will be the same,� Marks said. “We will continue to practice as we normally do. The patients will find this a seamless transition.�

The change should not be read as a signal that Lexington Memorial is being bought by Novant, and therefore local doctors are aligning with the group for that reason, said Kathy Sushereba, community relations director for the hospital.

Lexington Memorial has a physicians group called LexMedical. It is composed of Lexington Center for Family Health, Davidson Internists, Women’s Center of Lexington & Salisbury, Lexington Surgical Associates, Lexington Center for Gastrointestinal Health and North Davidson Center for Family Health.

“Drs. Allen, Hinson and Weiser were all extended an opportunity to join LexMedical, a Lexington Memorial affiliate comprised of its hospital-owned physician practices,� Sushereba said. “I understand that the LexMedical offer was competitive with that being offered by Novant. However, the physicians declined to join the LexMedical group.�
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