Physician Practice Roundup—41 doctors will leave Novant Health to join independent medical group

A physician's stethoscope
A group of physicians in North Carolina has decided to leave employment with Novant Health to join an independent practice with a "patient-first philosophy." (Getty/millionsjoker)

41 doctors will leave Novant Health to join independent medical group

Another group of physicians has decided to leave employment with a hospital system to operate independently.

A group of 41 physicians plan to break away from Novant Health, based in North Carolina, and will join Holston Medical Group, which is based in Kingsport, Tennessee. In an announcement, two of the physicians leading the transition to private practice in Charlotte said the group had decided to exercise their option to leave employment with Novant Health and to partner with Holston, an independent physician-owned and -led group “with a similar patient-first philosophy.” The doctors work at Lakeside Family Physicians and Huntersville OB/GYN, part of the Novant Health Medical Group.

Novant Health said the physicians will leave the health system on May 31. In an announcement, Novant Health said the doctors’ recent resignations were “unexpected.” The health system said it is negotiating to transfer some of its physician offices and medical clinic lease agreements to the departing physicians to ensure a smooth transition for patients.

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The decision by the doctors to leave Novant Health is the latest shakeup to healthcare in the area. Less than a year ago, 88 doctors with Mecklenburg Medical Group sued to be freed from their employment contracts and noncompete clauses with Charlotte-based Atrium Health and form an independent practice. (Holston Medical Group announcement | Novant Health announcement)

Zocdoc implements new pricing model, charging a per-patient fee

Zocdoc, a doctor booking app, is changing its pricing model and will start charging a per-patient fee in New York, a move that some doctors aren’t happy about, according to a CNBC report.

The company runs a scheduling website that patients can use to book appointments with doctors, dentists and other providers and is eliminating its flat-fee subscription in some markets and replacing that with a new model that charges practices for every new patient booking. Providers in New York were notified of the change this week, which takes effect April 1.

Zocdoc said it is updating its pricing model on a state-by-state basis and has already implemented the new pricing model in five states. The change will make it more attractive for some providers to use Zocdoc since the new pricing is based on the actual number of new patient bookings each provider receives from the website. (CNBC article | Zocdoc announcement)

2 Texas doctors sentenced to prison in separate fraud schemes

Two physicians in Houston, Texas, were sentenced to prison for their roles in separate schemes to defraud Medicare, according to the Department of Justice.

John P. Ramirez, M.D., 65, was sentenced to 25 years in prison and ordered to pay over $26 million in restitution. Prosecutors said Ramirez signed medical orders and other documents which co-defendants sold to home health agencies in and around Houston, falsely certifying information about patients’ medical conditions and need for services. The home health agencies used the documents to bill and receive payment from Medicare for services not medically necessary or not provided.

Anh Do, M.D., 78, was sentenced to serve 36 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution and to forfeit over $274,000. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud last August.

As part of that guilty plea, he admitted to fraudulently signing plans of care and other medical documents that falsely certified and recertified patients for home health services. Medicare paid approximately $10 million on claims for services in which Do was listed as the patient’s attending physician, the DOJ said. He also billed Medicare for diagnostic tests that were not medically necessary or not provided. (DOJ announcement)

Study: Changing prescribing practices could slash insulin costs

Sometimes simple methods for bending the healthcare cost curve have a way of hiding in plain sight.

study published on Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that human-derived formulations of insulin are as clinically effective at treating Type 2 diabetes as pricier “designer” analogues that get used more commonly.

That could offer patients relief from rising drug costs. (FierceHealthcare)

Study finds e-cigarettes do help smokers quit

Doctors who have been unsure what to tell patients about using e-cigarettes to help quit smoking now have some evidence that endorses the idea.

Amid the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's effort to crack down on vaping by young people, a study published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine found that e-cigarettes were nearly twice as effective for smokers trying to quit cigarettes than nicotine replacement products such as patches and gum. The success rate for quitting was still low: 18% for those using e-cigarettes versus 9.9% in the nicotine-replacement group. (NEJM study)

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