Optum to acquire Atrius Health as it continues to grow physician network

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Optum is looking to add 10,000 employed and affiliated physicians this year, UnitedHealth Group CEO David Wichmann said during the company's fourth-quarter 2020 earnings call. (UnitedHealth Group)

UnitedHealth's Optum plans to acquire Atrius Health, the largest independent physicians network in Massachusetts.

The deal was first reported by The Boston Globe and is the latest in a succession of consolidations in the state’s health care market.

The nonprofit physician group operates 30 medical practices that offer primary care, more than 50 specialties, imaging, lab and pharmacy services to the Boston area.

Atrius officials said they signed a definitive agreement with Optum on Monday, according to The Boston Globe

RELATED: UnitedHealth Group's Optum to buy Change Healthcare for $13B

"Atrius Health is excited to build on our decades-long commitment in supporting our patients with high-quality care by joining Optum, positioning us to do even more to better serve patients and keep people healthy," Dr. Steve Strongwater, Atrius Health’s President & CEO, and Board Chair Dr. Laura Lee said in an emailed statement.

If the deal is approved, Atrius Health will remain "committed to its same mission, vision, and values for patient care and continue to care for patients through multiple insurance plans," Strongwater and Lee said.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed and it still must get regulatory approval from Massachusetts' Health Policy Commission, the Department of Public Health and the Federal Trade Commission.

Officials from Optum did not respond to a request for comment.

Optum is UnitedHealth's information and technology-enabled health services subsidiary and includes the health care provider arm of UnitedHealth Group. The acquisition will significantly expand Optum's footprint in Massachusetts.

Optum is looking to add 10,000 employed and affiliated physicians this year, UnitedHealth Group CEO David Wichmann said during the company's fourth-quarter 2020 earnings call. It currently has 1,400 clinics with over 50,000 physicians.

RELATED: UnitedHealthcare expects to add 900K Medicare members this year

With the pending Atrius deal, Optum would add 715 physicians.

Dr. Steven Strongwater, chief executive of Atrius, told The Boston Globe that Optum “will make investments in the kinds of things that will improve the patient experience. … And we believe it will be very helpful for the Commonwealth because they will help us continue to drive down the total cost of care.”

Optum recently bought technology and service company Change Healthcare for $7.84 billion in cash plus about $5 billion in debt. Change Healthcare will join with OptumInsight to provide software and data analytics, technology-enabled services and research, advisory and revenue cycle management offerings.