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GE Healthcare Camden Group Insights Blog

Free Suburban Chicago Breakfast Seminar: Intellectual Property--Issues for Physicians & Medical Practices

Posted by Matthew Smith on Nov 11, 2014 10:41:00 AM

Intellectual Property, Independent Physician AdvisorsChicagoland independent practices are welcome to join the Independent Physician Advisors this Thursday, November 13th at 7:30 am in Oakbrook Terrace for their complimentary monthly breakfast seminar: Intellectual Property: Issues for Physicians & Medical Practices.

Presenting this seminar will be internationally known attorney, David Adler of the Adler Law Group.

You will learn:

  • The difference in creation, scope and protection of Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks
  • The Business Risks created by the failure to Identify, Protect and Enforce IP rights
  • The Business Risks created by online business (websites, domain names, online advertising)
  • The Business Risks created by Customers, Employees and Vendors who use Social Media

Seminar Outcomes

By the end of this session, you will have new learning insights as to:

  • How to protect your practice from potential IP infringement claims
  • How to protect your practice from Employee IP theft
  • How to protect your business from online attacks to reputation and branding

Presenter:

David M. Adler, Esq. is the principal attorney and driving force behind the Firm's Technology Practice Group with an extensive background and experience in corporate law, including contract interpretation, drafting, negotiation, and enforcement and intellectual property law.

He received his law degree from the DePaul University College of Law where he wrote for the DePaul Arts & Entertainment Law Journal. He received a Bachelor of the Arts in English, a Bachelor of the Arts in History with a minor in Chemistry from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

Outside the practice of law, Mr. Adler teaches an undergraduate course on E-Business in the Arts, Entertainment & Media Management Department of Columbia College Chicago. He also currently chairs the Chicago Bar Association's Start-up and Entrepreneurial Ventures Subcommittee and contributes to Workz.com as a "guest expert" columnist for the ecommerce and small business sections.

Schedule:

7:30am    Hot Breakfast & Networking
8:00am    Presentation 
9:30am    Q&A and open networking

Location:

Redstone American Grill
13 Lincoln Center
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
(630) 268-0313

Sponsor:

EHR Chicago

Registration:

This event is complimentary, however advanced registration is required. We ask that attendance be limited to independent physicians and their office staff.

To register for this event, please click the button, below:

Register for Breakfast Seminar

Topics: Independent Physician Advisors, Independent Physicians, Medical Practice, Independent Physician Practice, IPA, Intellectual Property

Quick Survey: Participation in a Clinically Integrated Network

Posted by Matthew Smith on Sep 17, 2014 3:42:00 PM

Survey, online surveyAs healthcare costs continue to rise, payers are putting pressure on all providers to deliver more coordinated care. Hospitals and physicians are now expected to collaborate to improve outcomes, reduce utilization and control costs.

What does this mean for medical practices? Physicians have only a few options.

One alternative is to seek employment by a hospital or health system. The benefit of employment is a certain level of income security for physicians. The downside, of course, is loss of autonomy.

The second alternative is to remain independent. While this option preserves physician control, it exposes doctors to new risks. In the coming years, payers will continue to put pressure on physicians to accept lower reimbursement. Physicians’ negotiating leverage will continue to decline.

Fortunately, a third alternative is now emerging—clinical integration between physicians and hospitals. A clinically integrated network allows physicians to work collaboratively with a hospital, other physicians and post-acute providers. Under the right legal structure, clinical integration allows physicians to maintain independence while benefiting from joint contracting based on quality outcomes and cost management.

Please answer this quick survey regarding your organization's participation in a clinically integrated network. Your responses are anonymous. Questions 1 & 2 pertain to hospital personnel. Questions 3 & 4 pertain to medical practice personnel.
 
Results will be shared in a HD Insights Blog post next week. Thank you for your participation. (Please note scroll bar within survery.)

 

Topics: Clinical Integration, CIN, Clinically Integrated Networks, Survey, Medical Practice, Employed Medical Practice

Clinical Integration: A "3rd Way" for Hospital-Physician Collaboration

Posted by Matthew Smith on Aug 4, 2014 8:15:00 AM
By Daniel J. Marino
President/CEO
Health Directions

Clinical Integration, CI, Clinically Integrated NetworkAs healthcare costs continue to rise, payers are putting pressure on all providers to deliver more coordinated care. Hospitals and physicians are now expected to collaborate to improve outcomes, reduce utilization and control costs.

What does this mean for medical practices? Physicians have only a few options.

One alternative is to seek employment by a hospital or health system. The benefit of employment is a certain level of income security for physicians. The downside, of course, is loss of autonomy.

The second alternative is to remain independent. While this option preserves physician control, it exposes doctors to new risks. In the coming years, payers will continue to put pressure on physicians to accept lower reimbursement. Physicians’ negotiating leverage will continue to decline.

Fortunately, a third alternative is now emerging—clinical integration between physicians and hospitals. A clinically integrated network allows physicians to work collaboratively with a hospital, other physicians and post-acute providers. Under the right legal structure, clinical integration allows physicians to maintain independence while benefiting from joint contracting based on quality outcomes and cost management.

The Benefits of Clinical Integration

Independent physicians can benefit from a clinically integrated network in four ways:

Autonomy Within Collaboration

Clinical integration allows physicians to maintain their independence while coordinating patient services across the entire continuum of care. A clinically integrated networkenables autonomous medical practices to participate in collaborative care teams and measure comprehensive quality outcomes.

Negotiation Leverage

Clinically integrated networks create value with payers by coordinating quality tracking, performance outcome measurement and cost management for network providers. As an approved legal structure for provider collaboration, a clinically integrated network can contract for enhanced reimbursement through shared savings and/or performance incentives.

Population Health Support

In the near future, population health management will become a key tool for improving patient outcomes and controlling costs. But independent physicians cannot afford to build a population management infrastructure. A clinically integrated network can provide the technology to track quality outcomes, the organizational structure to integrate patient management with other providers, and the tools to identify and influence the cost of care.

Protection Against Payment Risk

Payment models will continue to evolve rapidly in the years ahead. Physicians who align themselves with a clinically integrated network will stay on the forefront of opportunities to benefit from new contracting approaches, new reimbursement structures and new ways to maintain accountability for contract performance.

3 Questions to Ask

Independent physicians who are considering joining a clinically integrated network should ask three questions:

Are Physicians Leading the Network?

Successful clinically integrated networks are governed and led by physicians. Hospital leaders should participate in setting strategic direction, but physicians must have a leading role in developing clinical programs, designing financial incentives and building the provider network.

Are You Willing to Adopt New Care Models?

Innovative care models are key to achieving the goals of clinical integration. Independent physicians must be willing to incorporate new models into their clinical workflow. This could include enhanced use of EMR, participating in care teams and incorporating certain patient care services that may not currently be reimbursed.

Are You Willing to Make a Long-Term Investment?

The financial benefits of a clinically integrated network might not be realized for 12, 18 or 24 months. Participating physicians must be willing to invest their time in building an innovative delivery network that will only pay off in the future.

While the benefits may take time to materialize, clinical integration is a promising alternative for physicians. Joining a clinically integrated network now is a sound strategy for preparing your practice for the future.


Daniel J. Marino, Clinical Integration, Health DirectionsAs President/CEO of Health Directions, Daniel J. Marino shapes strategic initiatives for healthcare organizations and senior health care leaders in key areas such as population health management, clinical integration, physician alignment, and Health IT. With a broad background in all aspects of practice management and hospital/physician alignment, Dan is nationally recognized as a strategic leader in Accountable Care Organizations and clinical integration development. He frequently speaks at national conferences and regularly authors articles for the nation’s top healthcare industry publications related to current transformations in healthcare delivery. Dan may be reached via email at dmarino@healthdirections.com or by phone at 312-396-5400.

 

Clinical Integration, Physician Engagement, Health Directions

Topics: Clinical Integration, Clinically Integrated Care, Medical Practice, Clinically Integrated Network

Free Suburban Chicago Breakfast Seminar: Audit Your Practice with Effective Financial Internal Controls

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jun 4, 2014 12:00:00 PM

Audit, Practice, Independent Physician AdvisorsChicagoland independent practices are welcome to join the Independent Physician Advisors next Thursday, June 12th at 7:30 am in Oakbrook Terrace for their complimentary monthly breakfast seminar:

Audit Your Practice: Effective Financial Internal Controls

Learn the benefits and costs of auditing your practice and processes to follow for an effective audit. Highlights include:

  • Design a system of internal controls to establish checks and balances in the practice
  • Evaluate contractual details and financial reporting processes to effectuate appropriate reimbursement
  • Monitor accounts receivable and collection processes
  • Establish controls to detect fraud and embezzlement
  • Monitor coding activity

Presenter:

Larry Elisco

Larry Elisco, CPA, ABV, CCS-P
Weltman Bernfield LLC

Schedule:

7:30am    Hot Breakfast & Networking
8:00am    Presentation 
9:30am    Q&A and open networking

Location:

Redstone American Grill
13 Lincoln Center
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
(630) 268-0313

Sponsor:

Logo for Weltman Bernfield

Registration:

This event is complimentary, however advanced registration is required. We ask that attendance be limited to independent physicians and their office staff.

To register for this event, please click the button, below:

Register for Breakfast Seminar

Topics: Independent Physician Advisors, Medical Practice, IPA, Audit

The Next Wave of CI: Regional Clinically Integrated Networks

Posted by Matthew Smith on Nov 21, 2013 2:50:00 PM
By Daniel J. Marino
President/CEO
Health Directions

Clinically integrated networks, CIN, Clinical IntegrationHospitals across the country are partnering with local physicians to form clinically integrated networks. The goal is to coordinate care around quality outcomes and cost management.

But the drive to manage outcomes and costs is leading many local networks into the business of population health. That, in turn, is putting pressure on the boundaries that separate one clinically integrated network from another. There is a growing awareness of the need to coordinate care at a regional level.

Now, provider organizations in many areas are responding to this need by developing “Regional Clinically Integrated Networks (CINs).” This is good news:

  • Regional CINs hold the promise of delivering truly effective population health management.
  • The Regional CIN model can accommodate the many hospitals and physician groups that want to take part in a coordinated care strategy, but continue to have a strong preference for remaining independent.

Defining “Regional” Clinical Integration

Clinically Integrated Networks, CIN, Clinical IntegrationA Regional CIN is collaboration between multiple hospitals within a wide geographic area. The hospitals remain independent while pooling clinical, technological and strategic resources. This includes employed physicians as well as strategically important community physicians within their local networks.

Expanding the organized system of care allows participants to better influence quality outcomes, reduce costs and pursue value-based contracting. Factors driving the Regional CIN trend include:

  • Significant interest from independent physicians in partnering with hospitals in response to healthcare reform.
  • The desire of many independent hospitals to develop a population health management strategy without participating in a merger.
  • The need of large regional health plans to secure provider partners in developing population health insurance products.

The Regional CIN Planning Process

An effective regional network strategy will focus on four key goals:

Create a Vision and a Business Strategy

Begin by defining the population health goals of the Regional CIN. Identify the resources needed to achieve these goals, develop financial models and forecasts, and craft a comprehensive budget. Take care to develop an appropriate legal structure for the network.

Define a Payer Strategy

Start by identifying potential managed care partners. Some Regional CINs are focusing first on their own employees. Member organizations are pooling their self-insured beneficiaries and enrolling them in the Regional CIN. This allows participants to reduce their direct healthcare costs. More important, it enables the network to create a “proof of concept” that can later be promoted to payers.

Develop a Shared Infrastructure

Focus on building the key competencies of population health management:

  • Coordinated medical management around clinical protocols
  • Leveraging of information systems to optimize patient care
  • Clinical, financial and operational analytics/reporting
  • Provider enrollment and integration
  • Alignment of financial incentives with network goals
  • Risk-based contract negotiations

Build a Shared Culture

Organizational culture drives the effectiveness of any provider network. While pushing to grow the Regional CIN, leaders should also carefully consider provider eligibility and selection criteria.

Three questions that drive regional strategy

As a first step to developing a Regional CIN, healthcare leaders should ask:

1. Is There an Opportunity?

What is the state of care coordination in your region? Is there an opening for a true population health approach? What community health needs represent your most promising starting point?

2. How Will Participants Benefit?

How would a Regional CIN create value for each member hospital? What’s in it for physicians?

3. What Resources Can We Leverage?

What services can be pooled and leveraged for greatest impact? Do potential partners have enough self-insured employees to launch a “beta version” of the population health concept?

The most important question for many organizations will be, “How soon can we begin?” Providers across the country are actively developing the Regional CIN model as a “platform for change” that will help them thrive in the emerging healthcare environment.

 

Daniel J. Marino, Clinical Integration, CINAs President/CEO of Health Directions, Daniel J. Marino shapes strategic initiatives for healthcare organizations and senior health care leaders in key areas such as population health management, clinical integration, physician alignment, and Health IT. With a broad background in all aspects of practice management and hospital/physician alignment, Dan is nationally recognized as a strategic leader in Accountable Care Organizations and clinical integration development. He frequently speaks at national conferences and regularly authors articles for the nation’s top healthcare industry publications related to current transformations in healthcare delivery. Dan may be reached via email at dmarino@healthdirections.com or by phone at 312-396-5400.

Clinical Integration, Health Directions, Clinically Integrated Network

Topics: Clinical Integration, Clinically Integrated Care, CIN, Regional CIN, Medical Practice, Clinically Integrated Network

Clinical Integration: A "Third Way" for Hospital-Physician Collaboration

Posted by Matthew Smith on Nov 11, 2013 9:21:00 AM
By Daniel J. Marino
President/CEO
Health Directions

Clinical integration, clinically integrated networks, clinical integrationAs healthcare costs continue to rise, payers are putting pressure on all providers to deliver more coordinated care. Hospitals and physicians are now expected to collaborate to improve outcomes, reduce utilization and control costs.

What does this mean for medical practices? Physicians have only a few options.

One alternative is to seek employment by a hospital or health system. The benefit of employment is a certain level of income security for physicians. The downside, of course, is loss of autonomy.

The second alternative is to remain independent. While this option preserves physician control, it exposes doctors to new risks. In the coming years, payers will continue to put pressure on physicians to accept lower reimbursement. Physicians’ negotiating leverage will continue to decline.

Fortunately, a third alternative is now emerging—clinical integration between physicians and hospitals. A clinically integrated network allows physicians to work collaboratively with a hospital, other physicians and post-acute providers. Under the right legal structure, clinical integration allows physicians to maintain independence while benefiting from joint contracting based on quality outcomes and cost management.

The Benefits of Clinical Integration

Independent physicians can benefit from a clinically integrated network in four ways:

Autonomy Within Collaboration

Clinical integration allows physicians to maintain their independence while coordinating patient services across the entire continuum of care. A clinically integrated network enables autonomous medical practices to participate in collaborative care teams and measure comprehensive quality outcomes.

Negotiation Leverage

Clinically integrated networks create value with payers by coordinating quality tracking, performance outcome measurement and cost management for network providers. As an approved legal structure for provider collaboration, a clinically integrated network can contract for enhanced reimbursement through shared savings and/or performance incentives.

Population Health Support

In the near future, population health management will become a key tool for improving patient outcomes and controlling costs. But independent physicians cannot afford to build a population management infrastructure. A clinically integrated network can provide the technology to track quality outcomes, the organizational structure to integrate patient management with other providers, and the tools to identify and influence the cost of care.

Protection Against Payment Risk

Payment models will continue to evolve rapidly in the years ahead. Physicians who align themselves with a clinically integrated network will stay on the forefront of opportunities to benefit from new contracting approaches, new reimbursement structures and new ways to maintain accountability for contract performance.

3 Questions to Ask

Independent physicians who are considering joining a clinically integrated network should ask three questions:

Are Physicians Leading the Network?

Successful clinically integrated networks are governed and led by physicians. Hospital leaders should participate in setting strategic direction, but physicians must have a leading role in developing clinical programs, designing financial incentives and building the provider network.

Are You Willing to Adopt New Care Models?

Innovative care models are key to achieving the goals of clinical integration. Independent physicians must be willing to incorporate new models into their clinical workflow. This could include enhanced use of EMR, participating in care teams and incorporating certain patient care services that may not currently be reimbursed.

Are You Willing to Make a Long-Term Investment?

The financial benefits of a clinically integrated network might not be realized for 12, 18 or 24 months. Participating physicians must be willing to invest their time in building an innovative delivery network that will only pay off in the future.

While the benefits may take time to materialize, clinical integration is a promising alternative for physicians. Joining a clinically integrated network now is a sound strategy for preparing your practice for the future.


Daniel J. Marino, Clinical Integration, Health DirectionsAs President/CEO of Health Directions, Daniel J. Marino shapes strategic initiatives for healthcare organizations and senior health care leaders in key areas such as population health management, clinical integration, physician alignment, and Health IT. With a broad background in all aspects of practice management and hospital/physician alignment, Dan is nationally recognized as a strategic leader in Accountable Care Organizations and clinical integration development. He frequently speaks at national conferences and regularly authors articles for the nation’s top healthcare industry publications related to current transformations in healthcare delivery. Dan may be reached via email at dmarino@healthdirections.com or by phone at 312-396-5400.

  Clinical Integration, Health Directions, Clinically Integrated Network

Topics: Clinical Integration, Clinically Integrated Care, Medical Practice, Clinically Integrated Network

7 Simple Tips for Marketing Your Medical Practice

Posted by Matthew Smith on Apr 21, 2013 9:01:00 PM

Medical Practice MarketingBuilding a medical practice is harder than ever. Many specialists face a crowded market, and primary care groups are getting direct competition from retail clinics. A phone book listing and a hospital affiliation are no longer enough to establish a strong patient base.

Physicians today must take an entrepreneurial approach to marketing—actively seeking out new patients and referral sources. Entrepreneurial marketing does not need to be expensive. Practices can achieve good results with a few effective techniques.

1. Differentiate your practice

Healthcare consumers today have many choices. To compete, physicians must focus on something unique about their practice that captures the attention of patients and referring physicians.

For example, a Chicago-area otolaryngologist has built a strong practice by emphasizing his unique approach to managing allergies. His distinctive care philosophy and good patient outcomes help him stand out from “generic” ENTs.

Primary care physicians can also differentiate their practice. Focus on diabetic care, excellent management of hypertension, teen health—wherever your special interest lies.

2. Reach out for referrals

Physicians are much more likely to make a referral when they know a specialist personally and understand his or her care approach. Specialists can clear both hurdles through low-cost networking.

Lunch presentations are a great opportunity. Contact local family practices and offer to bring a sandwich platter to a lunchtime meeting. During the gathering, spend 20 minutes explaining your services and care approach to physicians and staff.

Other options include going to CME talks, attending hospital fundraisers or simply visiting the physician lounge. Any opportunity to meet physicians or office managers is a chance to develop referrals.

3. Get in front of potential patients

Health fairs, charity runs and fitness events can draw large crowds, but medical doctors are usually under-represented. Entrepreneurial practices can create strong market awareness by volunteering at these events.

Draw people to your booth by offering health screenings that align with your care approach. For example, if your practice’s focus is caring for hypertensive patients, provide a simple stroke risk evaluation.

What if a physician is uncomfortable meeting the public in this way? Identify a capable “people person” within the office to handle health fairs and other marketing efforts. 

4. Provide “free samples”

Free introductory offers are effective in almost every industry. Medical practices can also use this approach with good results.

Consider offering a monthly flu clinic with free vaccines to the first ten patients. The cost is minimal and it can attract patients who might otherwise visit a pharmacy clinic. Another possibility: free blood pressure screenings every Wednesday. This could be especially effective for practices near retail traffic. Each strategy provides potential patients with a “taste” of your care approach.

5. Rethink patient service

Retail clinics are a threat to traditional practices because they offer greater access and convenience. Medical practices can meet the challenge by making small changes that have a big impact on the patient experience:

  • E-mail forms to patients so they can spend less time in the waiting room.
  • Accommodate same-day appointments by leaving 50 to 65 percent of the schedule open.
  • Create a “fast track” for fasting patients (perform blood draws upon arrival, offer light snacks).
  • When running behind, have staff call patients to say they can come in later or reschedule.
  • Assign staff to contact patients the day after a sick appointment to see how they are feeling.

Remember that existing patients are your best source of referrals. Build patient satisfaction by listening carefully and communicating concern. Survey patients regularly and ask for referrals. Personally thank patients who refer friends and family to your practice.

6. Create electronic connections

Consumers increasingly expect to be able to manage their lives using digital tools. Medical practices that fulfill this expectation will succeed in forging powerful links with a strong patient base.

Start with your current Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system. Most systems can easily be configured to support a patient portal, allowing patients to access test results, receive clinical summaries and e-reminders, request appointments and download records to services like Google Health Vault and Microsoft Health.

Enhancing your website is another way to create electronic connections with patients. Provide content that keeps visitors coming back. Make patient forms available for download and update your site regularly with seasonal health information, “top ten” health habits or other useful content. You can also distribute content via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter or a simple e-newsletter.   

7. Work from a plan

The key to entrepreneurial marketing is steady progress. To turn a modest time investment into practice growth, create a solid marketing plan and work it consistently.

An effective plan will identify your unique selling point, target geography, competition and potential referral sources. List specific marketing initiatives, assign responsibilities and set monthly new-patient goals.

Whatever techniques you use, make sure to track referral sources. Continue marketing efforts that are working and drop those that are not.

Topics: healthcare marketing, Practice Management, Primary Care Physicians, marketing your medical practice, Medical Practice

Survey Says: Year of the Great EHR Vendor Switch is Underway

Posted by Matthew Smith on Feb 20, 2013 10:21:00 AM

EHR optimization, EHR switch"Meaningful use incentives created an artificial market for dozens of immature EHR products," says Doug Brown, Managing Partner of Black Book Rankings, in a recent news release. With more electronic health record systems continuing to fall short of providers' expectations, a new report by Black Book Rankings suggests that 2013 may indeed be the "year of the great EHR vendor switch." 

Underperforming Systems

After polling some 17,000 active EHR adopters, report officials found that as many as 17% of medical practices could be switching out their first choice EHR by the end of the year.

“The high performance vendors emerging as viable past 2015 are those dedicating responsive teams to address customers’ current demands,” said Brown.

And in light of Stage 2, officials say provider demands are only increasing. EHR users polled cited numerous cases of software firms underperforming badly enough to lose crucial market share as the industry evolves, with vendor solutions often struggling to keep pace.

The independent insight gathered indicates that many EHR vendors have been preoccupied with backlogged implementations and selling product that development issues have been neglected as a priority. Most concerning to current EHR users are unmet pleas for sophisticated interfaces with other practice programs, complex connectivity and networking schemes, pacing with accountable care progresses and the rapid EHR adoption of mobile devices, the survey finds. 

Specialties Looking for More

The survey also reveals that some popular "one size fits all" EHR products have failed to meet the needs of several medical specialties and cannot continue to satisfy their client base with a lack of customizable or bespoke tools. As far as EHR systems meeting the expectations of various medical specialities, nephrologists reported the highest rate of discontent, with 88% saying their EHR systems fail to meet their needs. Providers in urology, ophthalmology and gastroenterology also reported high rates of discontent. Contrastingly, a much lower number of small practice physicians (54%) reported that their system failed to meet their needs.  

Considering a System Switch

With high numbers of providers indicating that EHR systems have failed to meet their needs, more are considering a system switch. Some 31% of survey respondents indicated they were "dissatisfied enough" with their EHR to consider making a switch. Thirty-four percent said they were neither overly satisfied or dissatisfied.

Out of those EHR users considering a system switch:

  • 80% said the solution does not meet the practices' individual needs;
  • 79% indicated that the medical practice had not adequately assessed the group's needs before choosing the EHR;
  • 77% of respondents cited solution design as ill-fitted for their medical practice or specialty; and
  • 44% said vendors have been unresponsive to requests.  

Red Flags

In addition to the EHR user survey, phone interviews revealed three red flags current users see that would deter them from switching EHR vendors. The majority (32 percent) pointed to mergers and acquisitions; 26 percent cited senior management issues; and 22 percent said declining marketing share/value and internal staff system training issues were of concern.

Electronic Health Records EHR Assessment

Topics: EHR, EMR, Meaningful Use, Health IT, Survey, Medical Practice, Black Book Rankings

7 Tips for Marketing Your Medical Practice

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jul 20, 2012 11:24:00 AM

Medical Practice MarketingBuilding a medical practice is harder than ever. Many specialists face a crowded market, and primary care groups are getting direct competition from retail clinics. A phone book listing and a hospital affiliation are no longer enough to establish a strong patient base.

Physicians today must take an entrepreneurial approach to marketing—actively seeking out new patients and referral sources. Entrepreneurial marketing does not need to be expensive. Practices can achieve good results with a few effective techniques.

1. Differentiate your practice

Healthcare consumers today have many choices. To compete, physicians must focus on something unique about their practice that captures the attention of patients and referring physicians.

For example, a Chicago-area otolaryngologist has built a strong practice by emphasizing his unique approach to managing allergies. His distinctive care philosophy and good patient outcomes help him stand out from “generic” ENTs.

Primary care physicians can also differentiate their practice. Focus on diabetic care, excellent management of hypertension, teen health—wherever your special interest lies.

2. Reach out for referrals

Physicians are much more likely to make a referral when they know a specialist personally and understand his or her care approach. Specialists can clear both hurdles through low-cost networking.

Lunch presentations are a great opportunity. Contact local family practices and offer to bring a sandwich platter to a lunchtime meeting. During the gathering, spend 20 minutes explaining your services and care approach to physicians and staff.

Other options include going to CME talks, attending hospital fundraisers or simply visiting the physician lounge. Any opportunity to meet physicians or office managers is a chance to develop referrals.

3. Get in front of potential patients

Health fairs, charity runs and fitness events can draw large crowds, but medical doctors are usually under-represented. Entrepreneurial practices can create strong market awareness by volunteering at these events.

Draw people to your booth by offering health screenings that align with your care approach. For example, if your practice’s focus is caring for hypertensive patients, provide a simple stroke risk evaluation.

What if a physician is uncomfortable meeting the public in this way? Identify a capable “people person” within the office to handle health fairs and other marketing efforts. 

4. Provide “free samples”

Free introductory offers are effective in almost every industry. Medical practices can also use this approach with good results.

Consider offering a monthly flu clinic with free vaccines to the first ten patients. The cost is minimal and it can attract patients who might otherwise visit a pharmacy clinic. Another possibility: free blood pressure screenings every Wednesday. This could be especially effective for practices near retail traffic. Each strategy provides potential patients with a “taste” of your care approach.

5. Rethink patient service

Retail clinics are a threat to traditional practices because they offer greater access and convenience. Medical practices can meet the challenge by making small changes that have a big impact on the patient experience:

  • E-mail forms to patients so they can spend less time in the waiting room.
  • Accommodate same-day appointments by leaving 50 to 65 percent of the schedule open.
  • Create a “fast track” for fasting patients (perform blood draws upon arrival, offer light snacks).
  • When running behind, have staff call patients to say they can come in later or reschedule.
  • Assign staff to contact patients the day after a sick appointment to see how they are feeling.

Remember that existing patients are your best source of referrals. Build patient satisfaction by listening carefully and communicating concern. Survey patients regularly and ask for referrals. Personally thank patients who refer friends and family to your practice.

6. Create electronic connections

Consumers increasingly expect to be able to manage their lives using digital tools. Medical practices that fulfill this expectation will succeed in forging powerful links with a strong patient base.

Start with your current Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system. Most systems can easily be configured to support a patient portal, allowing patients to access test results, receive clinical summaries and e-reminders, request appointments and download records to services like Google Health Vault and Microsoft Health.

Enhancing your website is another way to create electronic connections with patients. Provide content that keeps visitors coming back. Make patient forms available for download and update your site regularly with seasonal health information, “top ten” health habits or other useful content. You can also distribute content via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter or a simple e-newsletter.   

7. Work from a plan

The key to entrepreneurial marketing is steady progress. To turn a modest time investment into practice growth, create a solid marketing plan and work it consistently.

An effective plan will identify your unique selling point, target geography, competition and potential referral sources. List specific marketing initiatives, assign responsibilities and set monthly new-patient goals.

Whatever techniques you use, make sure to track referral sources. Continue marketing efforts that are working and drop those that are not.

Topics: healthcare marketing, Practice Management, Primary Care Physicians, marketing your medical practice, Medical Practice

A Provider's Story: Achieving EHR Meaningful Use--A Team Effort

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jul 11, 2012 9:46:00 AM

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dr. Marie T. Brown, MD, FACP, and Dr. Janet Y. Forbes MD, (whose practice is in Oak Park, IL) recently achieved Stage 1 Meaningful Use attestation. Their personal account follows.

Meaningful Use“Our team is pretty small (there are only six of us)—two doctors, two LPNs and two front desk staff (no IT department, no education department, and no HR or billing department). I had been quoted as saying, ’I’ll retire before I go electronic.’ So when it came time to choose and implement an EHR, it was up to two very busy physicians with no experience and great trepidation. Fortunately, we noticed a mailing offering support from IL-HITREC. It felt like someone threw us a life preserver.

We contacted IL-HITREC, not knowing who they were or what they would do for us. We paid a grant subsidized fee for each provider for what they promised was assistance with not only choosing an EHR and attesting for meeting Meaningful Use, but also full implementation with consultative services which would have cost us several thousand dollars.

The IL-HITREC – North East Satellite Office assigned us to a health care consulting company called Health Directions. REAL people came to our office and SPOKE with us. They interviewed all of the staff, individually, to assess all concerns before we began this transition. The range of emotions ran the gamut—from excitement to paralyzing fear.

They coached us, listened to us, developed a project plan, worked with the EHR we chose, and held our hand every step of the way. They were also fun to work with. Three months after going ‘live’, one of the IL-HITREC consultants was physically present to help me attest to Meaningful Use, and eight weeks later the $18,000 incentive payment was deposited directly into my account.

Our entire six-person team shared in the work, frustration, confusion and rewards (financial as well). We could not have done it without IL-HITREC and Health Directions. We are now almost completely paperless. Though it is still sometimes challenging, we see the advantages and our patients are proud of us! The biggest difference is that we don’t waste time looking for charts and adding mounds of paper to the chart and several people can ‘use‘ the chart at the same time. Health Directions taught us that we needed to change how the work flows—and not just replace paper with digital records. We are pleased to be a part of the digital age and couldn't have done it without IL-HITREC's support.”

-- Marie T. Brown, M.D., FACP

 

The Illinois Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center’s (IL-HITREC) Northeast Satellite Office, managed by the MCHC, congratulates Dr. Brown and Dr. Forbes for reaching Stage 1 Meaningful Use attestation.

IL-HITREC is one of 64 Regional Extension Centers in the U.S designated by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). IL-HITREC’s northeast satellite office has contracted with Health Directions to assist suburban Chicago-area primary care physicians in the facilitation and delivery of health information technology.

The HIT Regional Extension Centers were established as part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act; Title IV in Division B of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Signed into law by President Obama Feb. 17, 2009, the HITECH Act authorizes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide a reimbursement incentive for physician and hospital providers who demonstrate the meaningful use of an EHR.

The ARRA stimulus package includes financial incentives for healthcare providers who achieve meaningful use with an EHR. Medicare incentives can provide up to $44,000 per provider over five years, and Medicaid incentives up to $63,750 per provider over six years.

Want to learn more about the current state of Meaningful Use? Simply click on the button, below, to access our detailed Meaninful Use Overview. Content includes:

  • Background of “Meaningful Use”

  • Identify the incentive dollars available

  • Medicare vs. Medicaid Programs

  • Introduce the Meaningful Use measures

  • Plan to achieve MU in 2012


Topics: EHR, EMR, Meaningful Use, HIT, Attestation, Practice Management, healthcare consulting firm, Medical Practice

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