A group of physicians throughout Ohio who joined forces to maintain their independence as hospitals employ more doctors continues to grow.

Nearly 300 new providers have joined the Ohio Independent Collaborative (OIC) with the addition of Columbus-based Central Ohio Primary Care (COPC), quickly growing the organization’s size.

“After our launch in August, the response to OIC has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Dr. Gary Pinta, OIC president. “The growth of the OIC strengthens our ability to work with larger hospital systems, and independent medical groups and physicians around the country are looking at us and seeing the advantages of collaboration.”

The group started with five large physician groups from throughout northern Ohio.

OIC, which now includes more than 700 primary care and specialty providers, collectively provides care for more than 750,000 patients across Ohio, spanning the state from Cleveland to Columbus to Sandusky and all markets in between.

Hospitals throughout the region — including the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals in Cleveland and Akron General and Summa health systems in Akron — have been aggressively acquiring doctor practices in recent years to expand their market share and prepare for a major shift in how they get paid.

Under some new “risk-based” payment models, insurers give health-care providers a set payment to manage all their patients’ care. If the patients stay healthier overall and quality measures are met, the providers get the financial benefits.

Several statewide, hospital-based collaboratives, including one led by the Cleveland Clinic, have been forming as part of this trend.

By joining together to contract with insurers, the Ohio Independent Collaborative’s participating practices will be able to spread the financial risk while still maintaining doctor ownership of their individual practices, officials have said.