July 12, 2017

Central Mass. doctors groups scooped up

CEO Tarek Elsawy meets with Reliant's clinical staff.

UMass Memorial Medical Group is the largest physician group in Central Massachusetts, but when it comes to ownership, new players eclipse the group's parent, UMass Memorial Health Care.

The Central Massachusetts Independent Physician Association joined up with Steward Health Care this year. A Boston-based system owned by a private equity firm, Steward is expanding nationally and is tracking to become the largest private, for-profit hospital operator in the U.S. With roughly 200 members, the CMIPA agreed to sell its assets to Steward late last year, giving doctors the advantages association with larger provider groups, particularly when it comes to managing technology overhead costs and negotiating contracts with insurance companies.

Meanwhile, Reliant Medical Group is slated to become part of OptumHealth, a subsidiary of $185-billion healthcare conglomerate UnitedHealth, also a for-profit company, giving the Worcester-based physician group similar advantages.

The sale of Reliant, the region's largest independent physician group with roughly 500 providers, was approved by Reliant doctors in May and is subject to regulatory review.

Healthcare delivery will transform as providers adapt to cost pressures, Lynn Nicholas, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association predicted.

"You're only seeing the tip of the iceberg," Nicholas said.

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