1.800.360.0603

GE Healthcare Camden Group Insights Blog

Shifting Away from the Status Quo: Reinventing the Primary Care Practice

Posted by Matthew Smith on Apr 19, 2016 1:55:43 PM

By Susan Corneliuson, M.H.S., FACHE, Senior Manager, GE Healthcare Camden Group

iStock_000006188244XSmall_crop380w.jpgPrimary care practices will be continually challenged to drive clinical transformation and care coordination across the continuum as more and more systems evolve to care for patient populations. This transition will have a major impact on practices and require significant cultural and operational shifts away from the status quo.

A basic premise of effective population health is the need to expand one’s reach to a large population and manage care effectively across the continuum. To accomplish this successfully, it is important to not only consider the number of primary care physicians within a practice but also the composition and size of a physician’s panel. Under this new paradigm, considering physician numbers alone is not sufficient. Practices must also examine the ease of physician access and the access experience that the practice, the physician, and the care team at large create. Understanding each physician’s panel and the unique patients who comprise the panel is key to success in this evolving healthcare environment. Reinventing the primary care practice requires going beyond the status quo and asks us to consider how care is delivered, to whom, and where.

To continue reading this article in its entirety, please click the button below for immediate (no form) access.

Primary Care Transformation

 

Topics: Primary Care Physicians, Family Physicians, Primary Care, Susan Corneliuson, Practice Transformation

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

Family Physicians & Clinical Integration: The Case for Involvement

Posted by Matthew Smith on Mar 3, 2013 9:36:00 PM

Clinical integration, clinically integrated careWhat is your reaction to the concept of clinical integration? If you are like most physicians I talk to, you are interested in the idea but wary of the many uncertainties that surround it. You may also have some reservations about getting involved with the local hospital. If you become clinically integrated, will you be able to maintain control of your own practice?

One thing is clear: Doing nothing is not an option. Unsustainable health care cost trends are creating pressure that is simply not going away. All payers are pushing to reduce costs, and there is broad and deep agreement that greater coordination of care is the solution. Physicians who stick to the clinical models developed under fee-for-service reimbursement are going to suffer from steady fee schedule reductions.

The good news is that family physicians who are interested in exploring collaborative care models have several options. One possibility is the patient-centered medical home. Developing a medical home model in your practice will allow you to put greater focus on coordinating patient care. Improving patient management will enable you to negotiate value-based reimbursement with payers. One disadvantage of the medical home model is that it limits the scope of care coordination to the factors that are under your control as a primary care provider.

The other option is clinical integration with a hospital. On the patient care side, clinical integration offers unprecedented opportunities to coordinate care as patients move between primary care, specialty medicine, hospital, and long-term care settings. On the contracting side, clinical integration opens up new possibilities for securing better reimbursement for better patient quality outcomes. Given the cost control pressures that are driving the industry today, clinical integration may offer family physicians the best chance of surviving financially in the years ahead.

Of course, the big question for physicians is where does this leave practice autonomy? One answer is to look at clinical integration from the point of view of leadership.

Who will be in charge of hospital-physician clinical collaborations? Based on discussions with hospital CEOs from across the country, I can tell you that without exception hospitals are looking to physicians for strong leadership on clinical integration programs. There is widespread recognition that the only stakeholders who can effectively guide coordinated care are physicians. Physicians are being asked to take part in decision-making at every level, lead on the development of quality metrics, and help guide implementation at the unit level.

And practice autonomy can remain strong. Hospitals are acquiring physician practices in many markets as part of their integration strategy, but clinical integration can develop outside of hospital employment. Information technology and shared governance structures are carving out a viable niche for physicians who want to collaborate with hospitals while still remaining independent.

What many physicians find most exciting is that they see clinical integration as an opportunity to practice medicine as they were trained to. Under fee-for-service reimbursement, physicians are underpaid for the cognitive work that defines the best medical practice—the time- and cost-intensive work required to diagnose and manage difficult cases and maintain patient wellness. Clinical integration gives physicians the opportunity to focus their skills on outcomes. Physicians will be able to work at both the population level and the patient level to prevent the complications of chronic disease, keep patients out of the hospital, and optimize patient health.

Interested in moving forward? To prepare your practice for clinical integration, the key is to focus on technology. If you have not already done so, make the transition to an electronic medical record and work to meet the government’s meaningful use requirements. Then begin tracking clinical outcomes on chronic diseases within your practice. Diabetes and coronary artery disease are common starting points.

As you begin to get technology and quality tracking in order, you can also explore opportunities to collaborate. In most communities, clinical integration initiatives are still in the early planning phase. Structures, goals, and incentives are still uncertain—but that’s good. Family physicians who get involved now have a real opportunity to shape how clinical integration will develop in their community for years to come.

Clinical Integration, 4-Pillar Approach

Topics: Clinical Integration, Primary Care Physicians, Family Physicians, Clinical Care

7 Time-Efficient Techniques for Marketing Your Medical Practice

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jan 16, 2013 1:16:00 PM

Marketing Your Medical PracticeBuilding a medical practice is harder than ever. Many specialists face a crowded market, and primary care physicians 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 your 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

Many traditional medical practices today are losing patients to retail clinics that offer greater convenience. The good news is that small medical practices can compete with the big chains. The key is to make simple changes that improve the patient experience

  • Use e-mail to send forms to patients before their appointment. Filling out forms at home allows them to spend less time in your office.
  • Leave schedule slots open to accommodate same-day appointments. Depending on your specialty, use an open access (50 percent unscheduled) or advanced access (65 percent unscheduled) model.
  • Develop a patient-friendly process for individuals who need to fast before blood tests. Have staff perform blood draws as soon as possible after the patient arrives, and offer snacks afterwards.
  • Telephone patients when a physician is running behind. Offer them the chance to come in later or reschedule their appointment.
  • Follow up on sick appointments. Have a staff member call patients the next day to see how they are feeling and suggest additional steps as needed.

Practices that do a good job on patient service are in a strong position to ask for referrals. Most physicians find that existing patients are the best source for new patients.

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.

Most electronic health record (EHR) systems can support an electronic patient portal. A portal allows your patients to check test results, view clinical visit summaries, receive health reminders, request physician appointments and download records to services like Google Health Vault and Microsoft Health.

You can also build electronic connections with patients by upgrading your website. The secret is to provide strong content. In addition to providing downloadable forms, update your site often with seasonal health reminders, healthy lifestyle tips, preventive care information and other resources. 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.

Written by Soledad Prete, Health Directions
Published in the November, 2012 issue of Med Monthly

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

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

Family Physicians & Clinical Integration: The Case for Involvement

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jul 13, 2012 2:16:00 PM

By Daniel J. Marino, President & CEO, Health Directions

services trialportal2 resized 600What is your reaction to the concept of clinical integration? If you are like most physicians I talk to, you are interested in the idea but wary of the many uncertainties that surround it. You may also have some reservations about getting involved with the local hospital. If you become clinically integrated, will you be able to maintain control of your own practice?

One thing is clear: Doing nothing is not an option. Unsustainable health care cost trends are creating pressure that is simply not going away. All payers are pushing to reduce costs, and there is broad and deep agreement that greater coordination of care is the solution. Physicians who stick to the clinical models developed under fee-for-service reimbursement are going to suffer from steady fee schedule reductions.

The good news is that family physicians who are interested in exploring collaborative care models have several options. One possibility is the patient-centered medical home. Developing a medical home model in your practice will allow you to put greater focus on coordinating patient care. Improving patient management will enable you to negotiate value-based reimbursement with payers. One disadvantage of the medical home model is that it limits the scope of care coordination to the factors that are under your control as a primary care provider.

The other option is clinical integration with a hospital. On the patient care side, clinical integration offers unprecedented opportunities to coordinate care as patients move between primary care, specialty medicine, hospital, and long-term care settings. On the contracting side, clinical integration opens up new possibilities for securing better reimbursement for better patient quality outcomes. Given the cost control pressures that are driving the industry today, clinical integration may offer family physicians the best chance of surviving financially in the years ahead.

Of course, the big question for physicians is where does this leave practice autonomy? One answer is to look at clinical integration from the point of view of leadership.

Who will be in charge of hospital-physician clinical collaborations? Based on discussions with hospital CEOs from across the country, I can tell you that without exception hospitals are looking to physicians for strong leadership on clinical integration programs. There is widespread recognition that the only stakeholders who can effectively guide coordinated care are physicians. Physicians are being asked to take part in decision-making at every level, lead on the development of quality metrics, and help guide implementation at the unit level.

And practice autonomy can remain strong. Hospitals are acquiring physician practices in many markets as part of their integration strategy, but clinical integration can develop outside of hospital employment. Information technology and shared governance structures are carving out a viable niche for physicians who want to collaborate with hospitals while still remaining independent.

What many physicians find most exciting is that they see clinical integration as an opportunity to practice medicine as they were trained to. Under fee-for-service reimbursement, physicians are underpaid for the cognitive work that defines the best medical practice—the time- and cost-intensive work required to diagnose and manage difficult cases and maintain patient wellness. Clinical integration gives physicians the opportunity to focus their skills on outcomes. Physicians will be able to work at both the population level and the patient level to prevent the complications of chronic disease, keep patients out of the hospital, and optimize patient health.

Interested in moving forward? To prepare your practice for clinical integration, the key is to focus on technology. If you have not already done so, make the transition to an electronic medical record and work to meet the government’s meaningful use requirements. Then begin tracking clinical outcomes on chronic diseases within your practice. Diabetes and coronary artery disease are common starting points.

As you begin to get technology and quality tracking in order, you can also explore opportunities to collaborate. In most communities, clinical integration initiatives are still in the early planning phase. Structures, goals, and incentives are still uncertain—but that’s good. Family physicians who get involved now have a real opportunity to shape how clinical integration will develop in their community for years to come.

Article originally published by the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, January, 2012.

Topics: Clinical Integration, Primary Care Physicians, Family Physicians, Clinical Care

Subscribe to Email Updates

Value Model, Health Analytics

Posts by Topic

Follow Me