Novant physicians: Atrium Health physicians splitting gave us 'courage' to leave

Two leaders spearheading a group of more than 40 physicians to split from Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Novant Health said a similar situation with a competing health system last year inspired them to make the change, according to The Charlotte Observer.

Ehab Sharawy, MD, and David Cook, MD, spoke with The Charlotte Observer earlier this week to shed some light on the group's decision to leave Novant Health. Dr. Sharawy said the group of 42 physicians have enjoyed a good relationship with Novant, but feel it's time to move into independent practice.

"I wouldn't say anything negative about our relationship with Novant Health. We spent many years doing things with Novant Health and will continue along that road. But coming into independent practice gives us a little more self-determination to move toward the things that we want to do," he said. "The main reason why we want to break away ... is that we want to be clearly 100 percent focused on the patient in delivering the best care that we can."

The physicians announced their intent to leave the health system in January. They initially said they would officially split with the system in May, but pushed the deadline up to later this month.

The Novant physicians mark the second wave of providers in less than a year to split with a major hospital system in favor of independent practice. Last year, a group of about 92 physicians broke with Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health's medical group to form an independent practice called Tryon Medical Partners.

Dr. Cook said that while the Novant physicians had been planning to leave since last year, the Atrium physicians inspired them to make the move.

"We did look at them and sort of garner some of their courage to do this. Our decision was long in coming. I'd say 25 years in coming," Dr. Cook said.

Both physicians said they believe more physicians will seek out independent practice in the coming years and that the trend is "not a blip," according to the report.

"The national trend is that you cannot sustain this expense any longer. Physicians, the burnout is extraordinary. Patient satisfaction is often down as they feel, too, like a widget," Dr. Cook said. "I think you'll see in Charlotte others do the same as Tryon and our groups."

To access the full report, click here.

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