The new year will bring new challenges to medical practices, and from our analysis of this year’s 10 most popular blogs among physician readers, it’s clear that many of you are attempting to proactively prepare.
Here’s a look at the blogs that garnered the most attention among physicians in 2012, and some of the lessons learned from each:
The future is raising serious concerns. As you face declining reimbursement, increasing overhead, uncertainty due to healthcare reform, and growing government regulations, it’s no big surprise that three of this year’s most popular blogs indicate that many of you feel pessimistic about the future of healthcare.
As attorney Ike Devji wrote in one of our top-read blogs, “From right here at Physicians Practice to forums like LinkedIn, Twitter, and literally hundreds of practice management websites the comments and laments carry a common theme: Doctors are going broke; they lack essential business training that medical school failed to provide; their financial world has been turned upside down; [and] everyone takes advantage of them, they are oversold and underserved.”
In another popular blog, consultant James Doulgeris detailed some disturbing findings from a survey put forth by The Physicians Foundation. Among them, that over 84 percent of physicians surveyed agreed that the medical profession is in decline. In response to Doulgeris’ blog, one of our readers commented, “The solo practice of medicine is dying rapidly.”
The third future-related blog — and one that ignited a firestorm of comments — was written by financial advisor Michael Zhuang and it was dubbed, “What the Bush Tax Cut Expiration Means to Physicians.” One of our readers commented, the “AMA should step in and stop this madness in medicine. Medicare rate reduction keeps haunting all the physicians every year ...”
The final future-related blog that got the eye of lots of readers — and one that contained more encouraging news — was dubbed, “Pay Hikes for Primary-Care Physicians Scheduled.” The blog, based on two final rules recently released by CMS, detailed how Medicaid payments to family medicine, general internal medicine, and pediatric medicine physicians will match Medicare levels in 2013 and 2014, and how primary-care physicians will receive separate payments for coordinating a patient’s care during the 30 days after a patient is discharged from the hospital.
Productivity and efficiency are top priorities. With reimbursement declining and overhead increasing, our blog rankings indicate that many of you are focusing on improving practice operations.
“The rule of thumb is that 30 percent of the activity in any type of office is wasted,” consultant Carol Stryker wrote in one of this year’s most popular blogs. “My experience is that the percentage is even higher in a medical office.” Stryker went on to outline six ways to boost productivity 30 percent at your medical practice.
Two other most popular blogs focused on how to deal with frequent no shows, and how to combat chronic lateness — two common efficiency and productivity snags at medical practices. Both were written by nurse and consultant Audrey “Christie” McLaughlin.
Staffing issues are posing difficult questions. In general, blogs that addressed staffing problems were popular among physicians this year, but two stood out from the rest.
One, written by endocrinologist Melissa Young, discussed whether staff members should be compensated for days in which the office is closed, such as holidays.
Another popular blog, written by Stryker, dealt with a more problematic issue: employee embezzlement. In it, Stryker shared six red flags that should raise alarm bells for physicians.
Improving patient relations is a big focus. In 2013 and beyond, patient relations will play an even bigger role at medical practices as more payers tie a portion of reimbursement to patient satisfaction scores. It appears that many of you are already looking for ways step up your game.
One of this year’s 10 most popular blogs featured five etiquette tips for physicians and staff members to follow. As one reader commented, “It is sometimes the small things that can tip the patient/ family satisfaction ratings upward! In addition, these are things not taught in medical school!”
What 2012 blog stood out to you as the best of the best? Weigh in below, and let us know what you’d like to read more about in 2013.