November 10-15

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ACR Convergence 2023

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Better business knowledge boosts practice performance


4 minutes

Rheumatologists get the best clinical education available but receive little or no business education. The predictable result is clinical success with underlying business problems for too many clinicians.

Valora Gurganious, MBA, CHBC

“Too many rheumatologists don’t recognize that they are owners of multi-million dollar businesses,” said Valora Gurganious, MBA, CHBC, Senior Management Consultant at DoctorsManagement, LLC. “They are taught all they can absorb clinically, but no one fills in the blanks and translates what they need to know about hiring practices, how to improve patient flow, when to use bank financing or not, even how to do a financial statement for themselves. The practice manager can take care of day-to-day matters, but the owner is the one who has to create the big picture, to take the strategic view of your practice.”

Gurganious, who will present Creating a High-Performing Practice through Assessment and Planning from 9:00 – 10:00 am Monday in room 145A, has spent decades helping clients understand the business side of their practice. After more than a decade of working with physician practices, she will help rheumatologists focus on their own unique challenges. Her session will help attendees navigate the strategies and concepts that can help build a practice that is as successful financially as it is clinically.

Practice improvement is one area where clinical and business mandates intersect. Improving performance today is as much about meeting new practice reporting and data requirements as it is about meeting financial goals.

“We are seeing accountable care organizations and other structures being formulated under MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015) with new payment methodologies and reporting requirements,” Gurganious said. “These new alternative payment models, often in the form of Accountable Care Organizations, are usually headed up by an insurance payer or a hospital. That makes it vital that providers continually evaluate these contracts. There are opportunities and risks for you, your staff, and your patients as we move into a pay-for-performance scenario. You have to strongly consider whether or not you want to be associated with these new entities.”

Along with its unique challenges, rheumatology offers unique potential. Every specialty offers the opportunity for cash-based services that benefit both patients and practice.

Dermatology, for example, provides multiple opportunities for elective aesthetic services that patients desire even though they are not covered by private or public insurance programs. Ob/Gyns have similar opportunities with treatments such as hormone replacement therapy.

“These kinds of services are highly valued by patients, and the provider may receive payment at the time of service,” Gurganious said. “And no one is nipping part of that payment as an insurance company would. In rheumatology, ancillary services such as allergy therapy, medical weight loss, or laboratory services may provide lucrative revenue streams. It is a rare practice that doesn’t have that kind of untapped potential.”

Failing to build sound strategies is another gap in physician training, she said. Few physicians recognize the need to plan for growth and to maintain market share. Even fewer know how to go about it.

Another important factor that doctors often ignore is the importance of marketing their practice to their referral sources, to current patients, and to prospective patients. Marketing means being visible, accessible, and present to providers and patients so that your practice is front-of-mind when seeking quality rheumatologic services. Marketing helps you create and establish your “brand,” the way you are perceived in the community. Steps such as confirming patient visits, permitting patients to register and even pay for services online, following up promptly when referrals come in, and seeking feedback from patients after their visit demonstrates a commitment to service while building your presence.

“Your practice must have a social media presence,” Gurganious said. “That’s where patients and potential patients go for information about you, your background, your practice, and their potential treatment. Your web presence must be optimized, responsive, and usable on the pocket-sized computers we all walk around with — our smartphones. Even though your peers may be referring prospective patients, nearly every referral will check you out online using HealthGrades and Yelp reviews before making that first appointment. Patients and peers frequently make judgments about you and your practice, accurate or not, based upon your web presence.”

Creating a High-Performing Practice through Assessment and Planning
9:00 – 10:00 am Monday • Room 145A