Business

CONNECTICUT: Doctors trading independent practices for hospitals, large groups

By Arielle Levin Becker 

July 3, 2013 – Norman Rockwell prints hang on the walls of Dr. Douglas Gerard’s office, and the New Hartford primary care doctor says his practice would fit into that era.

Gerard is the only medical provider in the office, so he’s the one who takes patients’ vital signs and medical histories. His files are all on paper, and he’s not planning to replace them with an electronic system because he thinks it will distract from the face-to-face encounters with patients.

“It’s a dinosaur,” he said of his practice. “Nobody’s going to do this when I leave.”

Small, independent medical practices have long dominated Connecticut’s medical landscape. But increasingly, doctors are giving up their independence to join larger groups or hospital systems, often getting help with back-office functions like billing and insurance negotiations while staying in their old offices and seeing the same patients.

And like Gerard, many people in the health care system think the days of Connecticut’s independent, solo or small medical practices are numbered.

“If I had to predict, 10 years from now, I think it will be very rare to find a practice that has no affiliation with any larger entity,” said Dr. Robert Nordgren, CEO of Northeast Medical Group, a physician group affiliated with Yale-New Haven Health system that has added more than 100 doctors in the past 18 months.

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