Noteworthy items from Physicians Practice
39 The percentage of physicians who remained in independent practice in 2012. In 2013, that's estimated to drop to 36 percent.
"The Medicare [accountable care organization] ACO programs were deliberately designed as a way to create a multi-payer care delivery model that could compete in the open marketplace with fee-for-service, and it is reasonable to ask how many people live in markets where an ACO is one of their healthcare choices. The astonishing answer is nearly half of the U.S. population."
Oliver Wyman partners Niyum Gandhi and Richard Weil, in a new report dubbed "The ACO Surprise."
"Regardless of whether healthcare exchanges are delayed or not, the projected effect of the Affordable Care Act piles up a potential hurricane of runaway costs, virtually none of which physician practices will see as new revenues."
Healthcare consultant James Doulgeris, in a blog appearing on PhysiciansPractice.com.
Female Docs Have Sunnier Outlook
Female physicians appear more optimistic than their male colleagues, according to a survey of nearly 14,000 physicians by Merritt Hawkins on behalf of The Physicians Foundation. Here are some of the most interesting results:
• 26 percent of females said health reform will improve care while only 22 percent of males said it would.
• 46 percent of females said they are optimistic about the future of the profession while only 41 percent of males said they are.
• 25 percent of females said EHRs will improve quality of care while only 16 percent of males said they will.
• 43 percent of females said they are positive about the medical profession while only 34 percent of males said they are.
A new worksheet makes it easier to identify, track, and monitor cost-cutting and revenue-boosting opportunities for your practice. "Just because you've been doing something for a long time doesn't necessarily mean you're doing it well," Daniel Friend, a practice administrator at Peoria Surgical Group in Illinois who developed the spreadsheet, told attendees at the Medical Group Management Association 2012 conference in San Antonio. "Ask yourself, 'What are you doing, [and] is it getting value for you?'"
The spreadsheet and directions for use are available at http://bit.ly/Cost-Savings-Sheet.
Cross Out Cancellations
A solid cancellation policy is a must-have at any practice. Here's what Practice Notes blogger P.J. Cloud-Moulds recently told readers every policy should include:
1. Clear verbiage stating the requirements for notice of cancellation (24 hours or 48 hours).
2. The reason for the policy.
3. A clearly stated fee for missed appointments ($25, $40, $50).
4. An area for patients to sign and date to indicate they read and understand the policy.
"Keep it clear, keep it simple, explain the reason why and your patients will respect your time in a much more appropriate manner," said Cloud-Moulds.
A new Georgia law is creating a roadblock for many of its doctors and healthcare professionals. Designed to crack down on illegal immigration, the law requires licensed professionals who live and work in the state to prove their citizenship. But the small staff at Georgia's Medical Composite Board is struggling to keep up with red tape now involved in the license renewal process, according to Modern Healthcare. The state says nearly one-third of its doctors are experiencing renewal delays of 10 days or more.
EHR State Rankings
A new report indicates that EHR adoption by office-based physicians varies widely by state. Rates of use range from 89 percent in Massachusetts to 54 percent in New Jersey, according to a December 2012 National Center for Health Statistics data brief. Adoption rates were also low in Connecticut, Illinois, and Louisiana. Following Massachusetts, rates were highest in Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wisconsin. Overall, EHR use increased 26 percent for office-based physicians between 2011 and 2012, according to preliminary estimates.
A recent survey of 843 medical students in Minnesota sheds light on just how unenlightened many medical students are about the 2010 healthcare law. Here are some of the key findings, as noted by Reuters:
• Fewer than half of respondents said they understood the law's basic components.
• More than 40 percent of respondents said they had no opinion of the law.
• Though many of the respondents said they did not understand the law, 69 percent agreed that physicians are professionally obligated to play a role in its implementation.
The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine
It sounds like a wild TV plot - cocaine binges in the office, orgies with staff and patients, falsification of medical drug records - and that may be why such allegations against a Spokane, Wash., dermatologist garnered so much attention. But, unfortunately for the doctor, and the state's Department of Public Health, which went public with charges against the doctor of drug abuse and medical fraud, those allegations were lies, spurred by an anonymous compliant filed by the physician's ex-wife, according to The Spokesman-Review. Ultimately, state health officials made a rare public apology to the physician and provided him with a $600,000 settlement.
Special Treatment Troubles
In a recent Practice Notes blog, endocrinologist Melissa Young wrote about dealing with patients who request special privileges. We asked our readers if they could relate.
None - 7%
Between one and five - 32%
Between five and 10 - 21%
Between 10 and 20 - 11%
Between 20 and 30 - 0%
More than 30 - 29%
This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of Physicians Practice.