In the shadow of a giant, independent docs unite

...and all for one: A strategic partnership between regional independent-physician groups will offer a range of healthcare alternatives to Long Island residents.

In a region dominated by one of the nation’s largest healthcare networks, two groups of independent physicians are joining forces to create their own comprehensive, patient-centered network.

And this union of Greater New York providers will be particularly beneficial to patients across Queens and Long Island.

Oceanside-based South Nassau Communities Hospital this week announced a “strategic alliance” between New York Medical Partners, a regional affiliation of independent physicians and physician organizations, and the Independent Physician Association of Nassau/Suffolk Counties, a clinical network built around an integrated Patient Health Information platform.

The partnership will unite more than 2,000 independent physicians, facilitating referrals between those practices and streamlining patient access to nearly two-dozen care specialties, ranging from immunobiology to cardiology to pediatrics and more.

The independent healthcare network is dwarfed, obviously, by the likes of New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health, New York State’s largest healthcare system by number of patients and number of providers, and the state’s largest private employer.

But with member physicians specializing in allergies, bariatric surgery, OB/GYN, psychiatry, neuroradiology and several other key practice areas, the new quasi-network is hardly lacking for second opinions and treatment options.

And with the bulk of those non-health system-affiliated physicians practicing in Queens and points east, all those interconnected specialty healthcare options are now available to one of New York’s most densely populated corridors.

“The primary mission of the partnership is to provide the residents of communities from Queens to the East End … with the right care at the right time, in the right place,” said New York Medical Partners Chief Executive Officer Kevin Lawlor, who noted “improved communication, coordination and collaboration” between independent practices through the strategic alliance.

Besides the easy referrals and specialty access, Lawlor – who previously was part of that much larger Northwell Health system, serving more than 10 years as president and CEO of Huntington Hospital – referenced a second unifying vein running through the independent-physicians network: a commitment to topflight care.

“Member physicians of each group share the same dedication to the patient-physician relationship, and the complete medical needs of their patients,” he said.

Founded in 2011, the primary goal of the IPANS is to “unite physicians to keep them independent,” according to Executive Director Michael Guarino, who heads a clinically integrated network centered on digital patient-health information services that facilitate cost-effective care, improving patient outcomes and provider satisfaction.

New York Medical Partners was recently designated an Accountable Care Organization by Medicare. The title denotes healthcare providers, from single doctors to entire institutions, who voluntarily unite to coordinate care for Medicare patients.

The NYMP was founded by several community-based independent physicians in conjunction with the South Nassau Independent Physician Association, an offshoot of South Nassau Communities Hospital.

While the new quasi-network is built on the backs of independent practitioners, some of them may find themselves part of a larger world, and fairly soon. Non-affiliated, 455-bed South Nassau Communities announced in May that it was in “exclusive negotiations” to become part of the Mount Sinai Health System, with negotiations projected to extend through the summer.

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