More doctors give up offices for security of hospital practice

Idaho StatesmanAugust 16, 2011 

Dennis McGee and Robert Walker are orthopedic surgeons who foresaw a shaky future for private practice and, within about six months of each other, joined local hospital systems.

They are two of more than 100 physicians who have become part of the growing Saint Alphonsus and St. Luke’s health systems since last summer.

McGee moved to Boise 20 years ago. He went into private practice, ending up with a group of similar specialists.

But it got harder and “wildly expensive” to keep up-to-date with technology, equipment, electronic medical records, privacy rule changes, imaging facilities “and of course the cost of replacing all of that,” he said.

McGee’s group sold the Intermountain Orthopaedics practice last year to St. Luke’s. McGee himself went to work for Saint Alphonsus, because he already saw most of his patients there.

Across town, Walker had been practicing in Boise for 18 years. He liked being a business owner and giving people jobs. But his group of seven providers at Boise Orthopedic Clinic joined St. Luke’s in June 2010.

The sports medicine specialist wanted “the economies of scale that don’t exist when you’re dealing with a lot of independent groups.” Now he can do things such as a communitywide sports concussion program.

But his wife, who’s also a doctor, is staying independent for now.

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