Three New Ways Physicians, Practice Administrators Will Collaborate

March 14, 2014

Practice administrators and physicians have differing areas of focus, but must collaborate for practice success. Here are three new partnerships for both roles.

The Medical Group Management Association believes fostering partnerships between practice administrators and physicians will result in the highest quality patient care. For group practices to be successful, it will be administrators, alongside physicians, who will determine and implement the processes, tools, and procedures necessary to achieve high-quality, cost-effective care and address related evolving payment models.

In my experience, practice administrators and physicians have differing
areas of focus. Providers want to see and care for patients, and they depend on their sophisticated staff for support for operational issues. But now, collaboration between providers and administrators will be required to design human, technology, information, and patient engagement systems that integrate more of the clinical aspects into the traditional operational purview of administrators. In order to be successful, practices must understand the business of care delivery; that is, how to bridge business and clinical functions to provide safe, efficient, and effective care to better engage their patients.

While there will continue to be differing areas of focus for physicians and administrators, the new environment presents a plethora of new ways to collaborate. Here are three new ways physicians and administrators will partner.

Managing and monitoring patients with chronic diseases

Physicians will continue to care for patients and administrators will implement population health management technology to be able to aggregate patient data and monitor access, quality, outcomes, and cost through the use of these systems. Administrators can use these systems to monitor patients that may need to be contacted for follow-up appointments, or the health of a particular patient group over time. Population health management systems can provide the statistical information to allow practices more individualized as well as more comprehensive insights into their patients, and determine new ways to engage them in their care.

Designing patient engagement mechanisms

Administrators will design mechanisms to engage with patients beyond the typical office setting, to further compliment the work of physicians. For example, administrators may design and implement a patient portal in their practice. This patient portal could send automatic alerts to patients who need a prescription refill, help track a patient’s progress in losing weight, monitor their glucose or blood pressures, and give reminders and access to resources and information along their journey. The portal may even recommend or prompt patients about local activities, support groups, or offer incentives for sticking to their goals.

Exploring creative staffing models

Practice administrators will work with physicians to determine the most efficient way to staff their organization. They will take into account alternative work schedules for physicians and staff, as well as how to serve patients after hours or on weekends, to better provide and coordinate care. In adapting to more patient-centric care, the administrator will be evaluating the roles of staff and may also consider staffing their practice with nonphysician providers. This staffing model is being implemented more frequently. When nonphysician providers are working at the top of their licensure, it may allow physicians more time for complex cases and improve access options for patients. It’s important to understand how utilizing your providers and staff creatively can benefit other staff members and patients.

While practice administrators and physicians will always have differing areas of focus, now isn’t the time to be siloed in your practice. Think about new ways to partner with physicians to focus your business on care delivery. Being able to bridge the business and clinical functions in your practice to provide safe, efficient and effective care to more engaged patients will position you for success in a value-based environment.

Laura Palmeris senior industry analyst for Englewood, Colo.-based MGMA. E-mail her here.