Monthly Archives: January 2015

Physicians: useful leadership article about biases from Fast Company

If you've visited here before, you might have seen some of my posts about the challenges physicians face in managing their practices.  In most medical practices, the physician-owners are also very busy health care providers whose business management time is quite constrained.  This makes it that much more difficult to know what's really happening on the business side of the practice and to make good decisions about business operations.  This lack of information may make physicians more susceptible to management biases. This helpful leadership article from Fast Company spotlights eight of the most common management biases that can lead to less informed decisions. In our consulting work, we sometimes see the impact of these biases on business management and especially planning and investing by physicians for their practices. For example, confirmation bias -- the tendency to value more heavily opinions and information that support what we already believe -- can be a greater risk for physicians who don't have the time (and often the inclination) to dig into business data.  Reports that suggest all is well can appear more relevant than "anomalous" financial data that indicates problems. Another common bias, the sunk cost fallacy, may be unfamiliar to those who've never studied economics -- but, once you understand it, it's a powerful way to make better investment decisions (whether you're investing time, money, staff time, or any other resource). The Fast Company piece is a fun, fast read, with a useful nuggets to thing about -- click here to check it out.

By |2014-12-14T09:58:35-08:00January 29th, 2015|

Your smart phone’s lurking dangers

The iPhone, Android or other cell phone you depend on for everything – besides texts and calls your phone is likely keeping you busy with games; productive with email, to-do lists and calendars; in touch with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter; and convenienced with applications as straightforward as a simple flashlight. But how much do you really know about this rapidly growing library of applications? How well do you read the obligatory user-agreement before you install the application? Well, of those “free applications” that most of us have installed more than a few represent some potentially serious risks, especially if you have HIPAA data on your phone.  Most free applications can access your contacts, calendar and other data on your phone – and for purposes of convenience, there are perfectly legitimate reasons for this, but can you be sure the publisher will only use this data for legitimate reasons?  One shocking example came from a flashlight application for Android that, once installed, had access to nearly all the data on the phone. The potential threat from applications, malware and viruses is very complex within a BYOD environment – even the basics of keeping device system software current can be a nightmare when one is facing a multitude of different hardware and operating system platforms.  Naturally, risks of this sort should be thoroughly defined in your HIPAA risk assessment that is a requirement of meaningful use. Regularly updating and refining your risk assessment alone could become overly burdensome very quickly.  Accordingly, it's worthwhile, given the complexity and ever-changing nature of technologies, to consider a very conservative approach – we recommend practices own and manage all devices accessing patient and other critical data.

By |2015-01-26T16:54:09-08:00January 26th, 2015|

Preventive services can be the antidote to the deductible reset

The deductible reset is looming in January, and it's poised to wreak its usual havoc with cash flow. Cash-flow impact could easily be even worse this year, given that deductibles have likely increased and become more of a problem for many of your patients. Naturally, alerting patients to the possibility that they will be responsible for a significant portion or even all of their service costs at the time of booking is a necessary first step -- as is ensuring that front desk staff are trained on taking payments at the time of service. But, if you are a primary care practice or other specialty that offers preventive services, there's one more thing you can do to protect your cash flow: you can identify patients who are due or overdue for preventive services, and encourage them to book during Q1. Because services identified as preventive by the Affordable Care Act almost always* carry no patient financial responsibility (not even copay), patients may be more eager to use these services -- especially if they've recently started paying for coverage and haven't perceived much value for their premiums. Annual/scheduled preventive care can be a win-win for patients and practices. The revenue is often higher than a standard office visit, and it's usually reimbursed promptly. Reaching out to patients to remind them about preventive care is a way to communicate that you care about them. And, you'll be giving them good news about their health plans -- some patients may not realize that they can get a preventive service such as an annual well-adult exam, screening colonoscopy or mammogram without cost-sharing. One caveat: be sure that patients understand that some lab tests your physicians may want to utilize may not be covered. Patients also need to know they'll be responsible for their normal portion of costs if a visit scheduled as 'preventive' actually turns out to be a problem-oriented visit. And it's always a good idea to remind them that these payment terms are part of their health plan and the ACA -- not the whims of your practice. *grandfathered plans may be

By |2022-01-01T22:52:02-08:00January 3rd, 2015|
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