Wednesday, August 24, 2011

6 Steps to Creating Successful Hospital- Physician Integration

Integrated hospital-physician arrangements, which align clinical and financial interests, will be critical to the future success of hospitals and health systems.

An article published in Trustee magazine by experts at Kaufman, Hall & Associates, Inc., a healthcare financial strategy firm in Skokie, Illinois, suggests the following guidelines to ensure successfull hospital-physician integration:

-Develop an integration plan between the physicians and the organization: This integration plan should be combined with the overall strategic plan around service lines, facilities and technology, among other things.
-Ensure sufficient capital: Remember to identify, quantify and prioritize the financial and time costs of alignment. For example, acquiring a practice can cost $500,000 to $1.5 million per physician, according to the article.
-Use a disciplined approach to acquisitions: Be open to saying "no" if the opportunity doesn't benefit the organization or service line.
-Use structured physician compensation programs: Provide appropriate compensation that is based on fair-market value and productivity to stay competitive, as well as reward physicians for achieving goals.
-Integrate clinicians in quality: Involve the medical staff to achieve quality goals because they will likely be at the heart of care initiatives.
-Manage employed physicians: Closely look at revenue, productivity and costs to assess quality performance, outcomes, market share and satisfaction after the partnership.

Read the full article in Trustee, or click here:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Physician Employment Trend: Is it the Physician's or Hospital's Best Interest?

There has been a lot of recent press on the increasing trend of hospital employment. However, employment models don't necessarily mean support from physicians or clinical integration, according to a new study released today by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC).

Following HSC's previous research that physician employment is on the rise, physicians reported feeling pressure to align with a hospital system. According to Accenture Health, by 2013, less than one-third of physicians will be in a private practice model, and instead will opt for employment under a larger health system.

However, under an employment model, physicians said they felt pressure to order more expensive tests or bring in more patients as part of a revenue- or volume-generating strategy.

Some physicians were deterred from employment because they wouldn't see the fruits of their labor. For instance, former independent physicians complained that, although their practice hadn't changed except for the hospital employment status, the hospital saw increased Medicare payments.

The report showed that physicians were attracted to hospitals that offered advantages such as financial security and work-life balance. For instance, the hospital could negotiate higher compensations with health plans that a private practice could not on its own.

Read the full report at The Center for Studying Health System Change, or click here:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

4 Tips for a Strong Post-Recession Practice

Are we in a post-recession yet? Well hopefully if we aren't already we will be soon, so Fierce Practice Management has come up with 4 tips to strengthen your practice once we are officially out of the recession.

Because of the economic times, patients are struggling to pay their medical bills, making it continually difficult for practices to maintain healthy bottom lines.

Tough times like these call for tight policies, according to practice management experts. Although they may not all work for all offices, consider the following steps to help your practice emerge from the recession stronger than ever.

Collect patient responsibilities upfront. Although upfront collections have been the norm for some practices for years, more offices are making the switch now that patients' copays and deductibles are becoming more significant. Some practices even request patients provide their credit card numbers upfront to cover any uninsured fees.

Appeal denials. "Insurance companies make a lot of mistakes. And they count on (doctors) not appealing them," according to practice management consultant Judy Capko. As for public payers, she said, "Medicare denies approximately 11 percent, and 40 percent of these are never resubmitted. However, Medicare states that when a claim is appealed, 65 percent have resulted in increased payment."

Scrutinize overhead. For example, Dr. Kimberly Butterwick told ModernMedicine that she slashed marketing expenses by 12 percent and boosted patient flow at her aesthetic practice by offering two to three monthly specials through email blasts and by eliminating most of her print advertising. And Dr. Sanford J. Brown recently wrote in Medscape Today that he saves on rent by housing his practice in a residential fourplex, which he owns. The doctor converted one of the apartments to an office and rents out the other three for profit.

Fight fraud. Implement strong internal controls and convey a zero-tolerance message to employees about fraud, advised B.J. Hoffman in a recent column in Physicians News Digest. Based on data from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, a medical practice with a few employees and moderate income may well be suffering annual losses in excess of $10,000, he wrote.

Read the full article by clicking here:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Physicians Delaying Retirement Because of Recent Recession

Many physicians across all specialties have had to delay their retirement plans because of the recession starting in 2008. Unfortunately yesterday's news regarding the significant drop in the Dow doesn't show positive signs of the economy recovering, thus further delaying physician's retirement.

According to a survey released last week by Jackson & Coker, the number one reason why physicians are delaying retirement is the recession of 2008-2009, which wreaked havoc on their investment portfolios and net worth.

Of 522 physicians who completed the online survey, 52% said their retirement plans had changed since the onset of the recession. Of this group, which included physicians of all ages, 70% said they planned to work longer so they could make up for the downturn's pernicious effects on their investments.

The story is much the same for a subset of physicians who, just before the recession, had planned to hang up their stethoscope within 6 years, according to the Jackson & Coker survey. Fifty-five percent of them are postponing retirement on account of shrunken nest eggs. Another 4% who are working longer cite family or personal reasons, and 2% blame healthcare reform.

Read the full article in Medscape, or click here:

Highlights of MGMA’s 2011 Physician Compensation Survey

MGMA's "In Practice" Blog has summarized highlights from their recent 2011 Physician Compensation Survey.

MGMA collected data from nearly 60,000 providers. Some of the highlights include median compensation in Cardiology, Internal Medicine, and Emergency Medicine experienced an increase, while median compensation in Urology, Ophthalmology, OB/GYN, and Radiology experienced a decrease.

Read the full article at "In Practice," the Blog by MGMA, or click here:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Physicians To See Revenue Surge in 2014

Physicians will experience a revenue surge in 2014 when health insurance coverage dramatically expands under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a study of healthcare spending by economists at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Public and private spending on physician and clinical services will grow by 8.9% that year compared with a growth rate of 5.6% in 2013 as individuals and small businesses begin to purchase health insurance with federal assistance through state-based exchanges, and Medicaid broadens its eligibility requirements. By 2020, an estimated 30 million individuals will gain coverage under the law.

Many of the newly insured will be younger and healthier, on average, than those already insured. Spending on hospital care, in fact, is expected to grow by only 7.2% in 2014.

Although 2014 will be a banner year for spending on physician and clinical services, annual growth of roughly 5% in this category from 2010 to 2020 will lag behind that for healthcare as a whole. What drags down this category is a Medicare pay cut of nearly 30% - triggered by the sustainable growth rate formula - that is set to detonate on January 1, 2012, unless Congress acts to avert it.

Read the full article in Medscape, or click here: