More than 160 independent physicians and 40 clinics in Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin are banding together to better compete with large hospital-based physician networks.
The network combines a physicians network with another of medical specialists.
President and CEO Jeffrey Tucker says the merger creates the largest network of independent primary care and specialty physicians in the state of Minnesota.
"It's going to serve the community hospitals that we work with, and it's going to for the first time provide a comprehensive network of physicians to work within the communities that we serve," he said. "I think of it as a community house call."
Dr. Kenneth Ripp from Cloquet is vice chair of the new Integrity Health Network's Board of Governors. Ripp says the combined network better serves patients and communities.
"We serve Duluth, but also we serve many smaller, more rural communities. These rural communities is where future physician shortages are thought to hit the hardest," Ripp said.
Organizers say the network will give providers in small communities more muscle when negotiating reimbursement rates. Integrity's administrative offices are located in Duluth.