Specialty associations for administrators and managers: are you in the loop?

Does your specialty have an association just for practice administrators and managers? Specialty practice management associations like the AOA (for ENT administrators), ADAM (for dermatology managers), and others are some of the most lively and valuable networking and education groups around. If you haven't looked into whether your specialty has a practice management association, it's definitely worth your while to investigate. Not only do these groups offer the chance to network with other managers in your specialty (who understands your world better than someone else in the same role?), they often have other benefits to help you succeed in your career, such as: Benchmarking and compensation surveys Discounts on products and services Specialty focused coding help Annual conferences and regional meetings Online education, webinars, and certification programs for skill-building Job boards To save you the time of investigating, here are some of the specialty focused administrator and manager groups that we're aware of.  (If you're a member or representative of a specialty practice management group we've omitted here, please contact us so we can add your group to our list.) Specialty Association Website Dermatology ADAM (Association of Dermatology Administrators & Managers ada-m.org Emergency Department EDPMA (Emergency Dept Practice Managers Association) edpma.org ENT AOA (Association of Otolaryngology Administrators) aoanow.org Neurosurgery NERVES (Neurosurgery Executives Resource Value & Education Society nervesadmin.org Oncology AOPM (Association for Oncology Practice Management) oncpracticemanagement.com Ophthalmology ASOA (American Society for Ophthalmic Management) asoa.org Orthopedic AAOE (American Association of Orthopedic Executives) aaoe.net Pain Medicine SPPM (Society for Pain Practice Management) sppm.org Podiatry AAPPM (American Association of Podiatric Practice Managers) aappm.org Radiology RBMA (Radiation Business Management Association) rbma.org Reproductive Medicine ARM (Association of Reproductive Managers) asrm.org/arm Rheumatology NORM (National Organization of Rheumatology Managers) normgroup.org Urology AUAPMN (AUA Practice Managers' Network) auanet.org

By |2022-01-01T22:51:55-08:00November 1st, 2016|

The power of managing details

I'm working on an ebook right now about medical practice staffing. More specifically, it's about how the instinct to cut staff, to be as leanly staffed as possible, can backfire*. There are dozens of little details that any practice can explore to improve profitability. These small changes can be made with much less risk than eliminating a job or cutting staff hours. And because they improve the profitability of your processes, they are a gift that keeps on giving, making your bottom line a little bit bigger every day. Here are just a few of the possibilities I explore in the ebook. Are you taking full advantage of these opportunities to improve your bottom line? Reduce no-shows: Take a quantitative look at your no-show rate. Are you tracking both true no-shows and last minute cancelled slots that can't be refilled? Audit your reminder process and results. Is your timing right? Experiment with reminding further ahead or closer to the appointment. Remind people using the technology they prefer. Capture email and cell info: Being able to reach people electronically opens the door to multiple efficiency improvements, including more effective reminders and better collections. And your patients that want to be emailed or texted, not called, will appreciate the option. Win-win! Train patients on portals: Too many practices make portal adoption a low priority, or abandon the effort altogether, because they find it hard to get patients engaged. It is hard! But it's still very worthwhile. As more patients use your portals, you have more ways to reach them for marketing. Portals make other key tasks more profitable, too. Notice I said "portals," plural?  If you don't have the ability to collect payments through your EHR portal, investigate the option to set up a payment portal with your PMS vendor.  Patients want to help themselves -- and they want to pay without having to write a check or find a stamp. They'll reward you by paying faster and more reliably. If you cut staff before checking out all the possibilities to improve your operations, you may not have the people you need

By |2022-01-01T22:51:56-08:00May 8th, 2016|

Dashboards: Practice performance at a glance

A medical practice performance dashboard is a great time-saver to help keep your finger on the pulse of practice performance and understand your position in real time. It is similar to the one in your car – a set of indicators  provide a simple, practical way to know what’s going on and to let you know when you’re headed for trouble. The dashboard is a metric reporting tool that makes it easy to look at business performance so you know when the practice is doing well and are alerted when something is wrong.  Dashboards provide a layered interface that conforms to the way you work.  When performance dashboards are aligned with the practice’s operations, productivity, finances and strategic plan, managers and physicians begin to work more efficiently and effectively toward achieving shared objectives. Typical indicators revealed on the dashboard focus on practice productivity and finances. However, the power of the dashboard can be extended to include other data. For example, if a new provider was added recently or you opened a new satellite clinic, monitoring growth and financial progress of this entity can be added to the dashboard. The dashboard can be designed to compare internal performance from the prior year or to look at how you compare to your colleagues across the nation. Medical Group Management Association’s (MGMA) has conveniently packaged a set of dashboard metrics with its Cost Survey on disc.  This enables the user to create a dashboard based on six indicators that are benchmarked against other practices in a few short minutes. The spreadsheet used to prepare the dashboard shows your ranking when compared to the MGMA database. If you find yourself on information overload with management and financial reports screaming for attention, think about implementing dashboard technology to monitor your practice's business performance at-a-glance.   With web-embedded technology some applications can update information automatically eliminating the need to repopulate the spreadsheets.  Charts and tables can be configured to support drill-down capabilities. Keep in mind, though, that dashboards are only as good as the data that supports them.  Success is dependent on the quality and flexibility of

By |2022-01-01T22:52:09-08:00January 31st, 2014|

Trade shows – there’s so much to gain

There are lots of reasons to spend time in the exhibit hall when attending practice management and other medical conferences. By visiting the exhibit hall you will learn a lot about what’s going on in the industry, how vendors are seeking to meet your future needs and what technology changes have emerged that can make a practice more efficient and profitable, while improving service and outcomes. Yes, there are lots of reasons to get down to the exhibit hall, but it's also important to plan how you can do this without being overwhelmed or wasting your valuable time.  Forget about seeing everything – it’s just not possible and can lead to unnecessary frustration. However, with thoughtful planning you can see those things that can make a difference in your very own practice. Get off to a good start. Conference materials at the convention will include a list of all the vendors that are exhibiting. Match these with your interests. Then check-out their location on the exhibit floor. This will allow you the opportunity to plot your course.  Visit your selected vendors, by covering one section of the floor at a time. It’s a strategic move that will get you off to a good start. Refer back to your vendor list as you move through the convention. You might want to take photos using your mobile phone or make notes. This will be valuable for follow-up and decision-making when you get back to the office. Pace yourself.  Be realistic in evaluating how much time must be spent on the floor of the exhibit hall to achieve your goals and meet with the different vendors you have targeted.  Allow an average of 5 minutes for each of the vendors on your list. When you meet with an exhibitor, it’s important to be a good communicator and get right to the point.  Let the sales representative know what information you want and why.  At the same time, if the sales rep is not a good listener you could be wasting valuable time.  Don’t allow him or her to lead the conversation to information

By |2022-01-01T22:52:10-08:00January 21st, 2014|

The cost of poor decision-making

We were recently called into a group practice where the physician owners of Struggles Medical Group were disillusioned with the practice of medicine. Their concerns were typical, shrinking reimbursement, dismal profits and the threat of new competition, as a large urban academic faculty practice was beginning to penetrate this suburban community.  Sound familiar?  This is happening around the country as a response (or reaction) to healthcare reform, where larger healthcare organizations see new opportunities to get a bigger piece of the revenue pie.  Struggles timing was perfect for bringing this consulting team in and here’s why. We performed a detailed practice assessment, examining the implications of past decisions and analyzing the current state of Struggles Medical Group in primary areas of performance including practice structure, finances, human resources, billing, clinic operations and work flow and marketing.  One physician owned this practice and the other physicians and providers were employed.  We soon discovered the physician owner had a history of making bad decisions. They did not analyze return on investment (ROI) before making investment decisions that would impact the practice operations, finances and possibly patient care. A perfect example of Struggles poor decision-making was buying very costly diagnostic equipment that they were unable to use because payers were contracted with a lab to provide these services.  This meant the investment was rendered useless to the practice. Besides this, with new models on the market every six month,s there was no way to attract another buyer for the equipment.  There were other equally disastrous investments Struggles made over the past two years. The most recent strategic error was changing the direction of the entire practice.  In their quest for new revenue opportunities the practice decided to focus on expanding its service to workers compensation patients.  Attracted solely by somewhat higher gross reimbursement rates, they went ahead with this in this in 2013 without thinking of the implications with would have on staff, workflow and profit.  This was a costly error. Workers compensation is a practice model that is significantly different from other payers and requires specific expertise in report writing and tremendous

By |2022-01-01T22:52:10-08:00January 10th, 2014|

A taste of MBA training for doctors — without the hassle and cost

If you follow this space, you may already know that I'm dubious about the value to physicians of stopping out for an MBA.  As an MBA-holder myself, I think the coursework can be overkill for independent physicians who just want to run their practices better (this is less the case for those that intend on corporate careers, of course). So much of modern MBA training focuses on things that aren't generally relevant to the small/medium business owner (and, therefore, the typical private practice physician partner).  Even worse, some of the business basics that doctors need most usually aren't well covered by MBA programs -- managing people; the minutia of local, state and federal regulations; the marketing of a small, local business; real estate finance; negotiations, etc. The other issue facing physicians (and sometimes practice managers, too) is the opportunity cost -- and actual cost.  The opportunity cost is the income lost by taking time off from practicing/working to attend an MBA program, and the actual cost is the (often very high) tuition at business schools.  For many, perhaps most, private practice owners and managers, it just may not 'pencil out' to take the time and invest the money*. One solution that can work well as a substitute is taking local classes (e.g., nights and weekends) that focus just on what you really need and want to learn.  This can be a reasonable approach -- and even a trial to see if further investment in MBA education is of interest.  But, there is also the issue of having to attend class at set times -- not always convenient ones. Now, though, there is a better alternative: MOOCs, massively open online courses.  Incredibly, some of the most prestigious business programs in the country, including Stanford, Wharton and Columbia, are making some of their most valuable content available through the free platforms like Coursera and EdX.  And it's not only self-directed -- i.e., you take the classes at your convenience -- it's FREE!  (Yes, unbelievable.) Lest you think this is just throw-away content, Business Insider has kindly assembled a list of some of

By |2022-01-01T22:52:14-08:00October 16th, 2013|

Does your smartphone pose risks to your practice?

Let's take a few moments to consider what risks you may be carrying around with your phone.  One common vulnerability is stored passwords on your phone, e.g. within a “notes” program.  Imagine the harm that could come of a thief having access to your banking accounts or practice management software.  Your firm could suffer an immediate financial hit, malicious mischief or a potentially devastating breach of patient data. The start of such grief can be your unattended phone meeting with a disgruntled employee or dissatisfied patient. These risks mean that phone security justifies your consideration. Phone security starts with maintaining disciplined control over the physical device. Naturally, your phone should not be left untended in your office, on a shared counter-top or anywhere else where it might be easily stolen.  While it seems obvious, it’s very common to see busy administrators leaving their phones behind as they scurry about the office.  Luckily, most phones have security features that can significantly mitigate your risk – although many of these features are not enabled by default.  In many phones, a four-number passcode can be readily “cracked” by a thief. Better is a quality passcode (avoid common English words) that uses letters and numbers – with iPhones this can be changed under settings/general/passcode lock.  Keep you phone’s software updated, as security vulnerabilities are fixed as they are discovered. If you use an iPhone, make sure you have the application Find My iPhone installed (and updated) and enabled. iOS 7, the latest iPhone operating system, security has been greatly improved – potentially making your phone valueless to a thief, but you must first have an Apple ID (and remember it!). Phones using Android 2.2 or greater have a built-in application that can help locate or your phone and/or completely delete the contents of your phone and any installed memory (SD) cards.  You’ll need to make sure these features are enabled on your phone (settings/security/device administrators). Regardless of what device you use, be careful when accessing sensitive information when you’re out and about as your phone may connect to an insecure Wi-Fi connection, allowing others

By |2013-10-21T16:13:04-08:00October 9th, 2013|

Still not collecting at time of service? New AMA data shows what it can cost your practice

The AMA's National Health Insurer Report Card (NHIRC) for 2013 was released today.  In addition to illuminating data comparing the burdens/benefits of doing business with eight major US health plans, the report added a new metric that caught our attention: patient responsibility as percentage of allowed amount.  Among the eight major insurers studied, patient responsibility was more than 20% of the allowed amount for all but one.  Even Medicare now comes in at about 25% -- as shown on the NHIRC chart below: If you needed another reminder that your collections process is critical to your practice's profitability -- and getting more so every year -- here it is!  Patient responsibility payments are here to stay.  If your revenue cycle management processes don't include effective time-of-service collections, now's the time for improvement.  (And if you don't know where to start, we can help -- contact us for more information about consulting services.)  

By |2022-01-01T22:52:31-08:00June 19th, 2013|

Lessons and reminders from the Yahoo! work-at-home flap

Practice managers and physician owners might look at the media attention focused on Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer's decision to end work-from-home at her company and think, well, that doesn't apply to me.  And it's true, with only a few exceptions (say, billing), medical practice staff members are unlikely to be able to do their work from home -- not just because they need to be where the patients are, but also because of the privacy risks of bringing documents out of the office. That doesn't mean, though, that the controversy and discussion that Mayer's decision engendered (and now Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly's as well)  are completely irrelevant to physician practices.  Because even though working at home is an option that won't often make sense for medical office staff, the media frenzy about one company's HR decision does illustrate how challenging it can be to make management changes without unintended consequences, even when the need for the change seems obvious. Change sparks fear One of the theories that immediately emerged about the Yahoo! telecommuting ban was that Mayer was simply implementing "backdoor layoffs" -- i.e., that she'd determined that forcing everyone into the office would be an easy way to encourage telecommuters to quit to achieve needed cost reductions.  Naturally, this theory provokes fear in all staff -- what if there aren't enough quitters to bring costs down, and my job ends up on the chopping block? There are mixed reports of how the end of telecommuting is actually playing with Yahoo! employees -- despite the ongoing outrage of bloggers, there are also reports that many current Yahoos understand the need for and actually support the change.  But, certainly the situation is a good reminder about how important it is to communicate effectively with employees, to help prevent unnecessary fears from taking hold -- otherwise, you risk losing  your most valued employees, who will begin job hunting in earnest when they sense trouble.  (I have seen changes as small as eliminating free coffee to save a few bucks lead to swirling rumors that bankruptcy is imminent!  When communication is missing,

By |2022-01-01T22:52:33-08:00March 9th, 2013|
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