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New Independent Practice Association Announced

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, N.C. -- A group of physicians associated with Durham Regional Hospital and Duke University Medical Center announced Wednesday the formation of an Independent Practice Association (IPA) to develop a physician network to foster local and regional relationships with managed care companies. The IPA will offer the physician network to managed care plans and other payers in an eight-county area, officials said.

The IPA will be beneficial to managed care companies because it will give them a ready-made regional network of primary and specialty physicians, thereby relieving managed care companies from signing up individual physician groups, according to Dr. James R. Kelly, co-chairman of the IPA's management committee and an internist practicing with Durham Internal Medicine. Kelly also said that the IPA will accommodate risk arrangements with payers for physician services, handle medical management, claims administration and physician reimbursement.

"We're pleased that we're able to come together as a community of physicians to offer our joint services to managed care companies and their customers," said Dr. Gary L. Stiles, co-chairman of the management committee and chief of Duke's division of cardiology. "This IPA will ultimately give patients convenient access to a broad range of primary care physicians and specialists, all working together to ensure that patients get the best care."

The formation of the IPA assures patients that their health care decisions are being made by physicians, and "it promotes the kind of direct relationships between patients and physicians that we value," Kelly said.

"The network is consistent with Duke's mission to provide the communities we serve with the best in comprehensive, accessible health care with choice of a broad range of outstanding community physicians," said Dr. Ralph Snyderman, chief executive officer of Duke University Health System.

Dr. Robert A. Gutman, president of Durham Regional Hospital's medical staff, added that "we welcome the chance to begin to unite the two circles of care in our community and the opportunity to further integrate the surrounding communities."

The IPA expects to be operational by Sept. 1 and could have a membership of as many as 600 physicians. In the interim, the management committee will open a Durham office and develop the physician network.

Kelly and Stiles added that the physicians who are on the management committee now practice in Durham County. However, they said that as physicians from Alamance, Franklin, Granville, Orange, Person, Vance and Wake counties join the IPA, seats will be filled on the management committee to include representation from those counties.

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