Large regional physician network planned

Renamed Marin-Sonoma IPA would be 500 doctors, include big, small hospitals

NORTH BAY -- A leading Marin County doctors' association is heading an effort to create a potentially powerful network of hundreds of North Bay physicians that, if successful, would significantly alter the region's health care landscape.

The Marin Independent Practice Association said it will add physicians across Sonoma County to its network , including those associated with the county's largest hospital, Santa Rosa Memorial, along with Healdsburg District and Palm Drive hospitals. That's in addition to existing relationships with Sonoma Valley and Petaluma Valley hospitals as well as its presence at Marin General and Novato Community hospitals.

The network is intended to achieve the kinds of efficiencies of large physician organizations such as those associated with Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health.

Details of the network are still being worked out, according to the newly renamed Marin-Sonoma IPA. A final agreement could be reached within a matter of days.

Memorial's physician group, Annadel Medical Group, which contracts exclusively with St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare, is exploring a number of options. St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare is the medical practice foundation of St. Joseph Health System, which owns Memorial.

"We are currently exploring ways in which St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare medical practice foundation and the Annadel Medical Group can partner with other key health care providers in the region," said C.R. Burke, president and chief executive officer of the foundation. "At this point, no relationships have been finalized."

While hospitals stand to benefit from the expanded Marin-Sonoma IPA, it is the physicians themselves who align with the network.

With Marin-Sonoma IPA's expansion, the number of physicians affiliated with the network would grow to approximately 500 primary care providers and specialists -- a significant boon for the smaller physician practices and hospitals that struggle to compete with health care giants in recruiting and retaining doctors.

Previously, the IPA had about 350 members, with 250 in Marin and 100 in Sonoma and Petaluma.

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