Bridging the gap…between the business of medicine and the practice of medicine.
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Your Practice and the Recession
- Doctor’s Digest — Novel Coping Strategies for the Recession
The recession and its aftermath have inspired many physicians to reconsider changes in their practice that they would have either ignored or discounted before. Some of those changes may make enough business sense for you to retain even after the economy makes a full recovery.
- Doctor’s Digest — Impact on Patient Care
What effects has the economic recession had on patient care? Plenty. Despite the wishful thinking of some who believe that medicine is impervious to economic downturns, it’s likely that you’ve been seeing a number of effects in your own practice: empty gaps in your schedule, maybe, or problems in collecting payments, or patients who show up sicker because they’ve postponed their preventive care in order to cut corners.
- Doctor’s Digest — Medicare and Healthcare Reform
Many say that reforming Medicare and shoring up the physician payment system are going to be the real key to any reform effort. As James Rohack, MD, president of the American Medical Association, points out, “When payments don’t cover the cost of providing 21st century medical care, it is difficult for physicians to continue to care for all Medicare patients and make quality improvements to their practice.”
- Doctor’s Digest — Helping Patients Pay for your Services
If your practice is seeing more uninsured patients these days, and if you’re therefore experiencing a sharp decline in revenue, you’re hardly alone. As recent surveys have shown, economic hard times have had profound effects on both physicians and patients across the country. But the good news is that there are things you can do to make it easier for patients to pay their bills—and to increase your own revenue as a result.
Best Practices: Patient Safety
- Doctor’s Digest — Medication Safety
Given the alarmingly high number of medication errors, how hard is it to ensure medication safety for your patients? As it turns out, it may be easier than you might imagine, given today’s tools like electronic prescribing and medication reconciliation.
- Doctor’s Digest — A New Approach to Patient Safety
According to the Consumers Union 2009 Safe Patient Project, “More than 100,000 patients still needlessly die every year in U.S. hospitals and healthcare settings–infected because of sloppy compliance with basic cleanliness policies, injured by failure to follow simple checklists for safety.”
- Doctor’s Digest — Reporting Practice Errors
How much do you know about the requirements for reporting errors made in your primary care practice? A good place to update what you know is the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005.
- Doctor’s Digest — How to Improve Patient Safety in your Practice
Why has it been so difficult to create a healthcare system that can prevent medical harm? As a recent report from the Consumers Union stated, “There have been countless task forces, conferences, editorials, and even episodes of Oprah focused on patient safety. But action...has been sluggish, leaving us without reliable means to track our progress or hold the local healthcare systems accountable for ending preventable patient harm.”
Marketing for the Primary Care Physician
- Doctor’s Digest — Creating your Own Blog
Have you ever considered creating your own blog? An online blog is an excellent way to establish your reputation as a trusted source of information on a specific healthcare topic. If you have a well-written blog that you update frequently, this device can build your credibility in the local community and serve as a stepping-stone to regional or even national opportunities in speaking, specialty leadership, or publishing.
- Doctor’s Digest — Marketing Your Practice Online
It’s not easy to stay on top of online trends: What’s hot today may shift quickly in the fast-moving world of technology. But there is one bottom line that you can ignore only at your own peril: the fact that every medical professional should have a Website.
- Doctor’s Digest — Why You Need to Market Your Practice
Many doctors not only think they don’t have to market themselves; they think it’s somehow inappropriate for the profession. But as Patrick Buckley, president and CEO of PB Healthcare Business Solutions in Wisconsin, and author of Physician Entrepreneurs, says, that’s just not the case: “The market is changing. All of a sudden you’re going to get up in the morning and say, A third of my patients are going to Walgreens. How did this happen?’”
- Doctor’s Digest — Your Practice as a Brand
Put simply, your “brand” is your practice’s personality, and it reflects how you will describe your practice to current and future patients. It’s the thread that forms the basis of your message and permeates everything you will do to market yourself.
Primary Care and the Medical Home
- Doctor’s Digest — Converting to a Medical Home
Converting your practice to the medical home model can be an ambitious project–but it will offer some impressive benefits: better, more integrated care for your patients; a more streamlined day; and fuller use of technology, among others. Your own role will change rather dramatically as routine care shifts from you to your nurses, medical assistants, and others, freeing you to deal with more complex issues.
- Doctor’s Digest — Technology
If your practice is converting to the medical home model, you will benefit from using computers extensively for the two vital components of the medical home: information and communication. A starting point would be having electronic medical records, or EMRs. In addition, electronic tools like e-mail and text messaging can supplement or even replace phone calls, and in the near future your patients are likely to expect to be able to access their medical information over the Internet
- Doctor’s Digest — The Medical Home Concept
The concept of the medical home is built on the idea of patient-centered care that will enable you to focus on your patients rather than the total volume of patients you see. Primary care physicians have supported this idea for some time, but only now is it gaining steam as government payers and insurance companies search for an approach that will make primary care more effective, more accessible, and more affordable. Nothing less than the future of primary care may lie in the balance.
- Doctor’s Digest — Managing Email
When it comes to e-mail, which kind of doctor are you: one who accepts e-mail as an unavoidable part of your professional life and deals with it accordingly, or one who would prefer to get rid of it altogether? If e-mail is going to remain a part of your life, and most likely it is, then it may make sense to become as proficient as possible in dealing with it.
- Doctor’s Digest — Scheduling Patients
The broad range of your professional activities makes it a real challenge to stick to a strict schedule of 15-minute appointments day after day. Fortunately, there is more than one way to schedule your workday. The trick is finding a method that meets your own needs as well as those of your patients.
- Doctor’s Digest — Timesaving Tips
If you’re like almost every other doctor, saving a little time each day is a goal that is perpetually just outside your reach. But if you can take a few minutes out to put some simple time-savers into play, you may be surprised by the increase in your efficiency and the time you save. Here are ten suggestions from the experts
- Doctor’s Digest — The Importance of Communications
Today we realize that communication skills can be taught, and learning them is not about being a nicer doctor; its about being a better doctor. The first formal studies of patient communications were done about thirty years ago, and they have slowly led to enormous changes in the medical school curriculum.
- Doctor’s Digest — The Patient Interview
In the field of patient communication, nothings more important than the clinical interview. Until the 1970s, there was no model for the interview: the physician simply asked the patient questions about signs and symptoms, and tried to put it all together to come up with a diagnosis. But now theres been an explosion of research into physician-patient communication, and as a result, you can now choose from at least eighteen different models for the clinical interview.
- Doctor’s Digest — The Practice Environment
It may be a little surprising, but physician-patient communication doesnt always happen between the physician and the patient. Sometimes that communication is well under way before you even say hello. Kris Baird, a healthcare practice consultant in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, tells her clients, Everything speaks. She explains that everything your patients see and experience helps form an overall view of your practice.
- Doctor’s Digest — The Patient as Decision-Maker
With the advent of consumer-driven healthcare, or CDHC, your patients may now find themselves in the unique position of making a lot more of their own medical decisions than in the past. The questions then arise: how prepared are patients to assume this responsibility? And how can they get the information they need to help them choose healthcare?
- Doctor’s Digest — The Health Insurance Dilemma
The American health insurance system faces the vexing challenge of supporting high-quality medical care while trying to control rising costs. In recent years, physicians have had to cope with an alphabet soup of insurance innovations, from HMOs and PPOs to DRGs and RBVUs. And now there’s still another ingredient in the mix: CDHC.
- Doctor’s Digest — How Will CDHC Impact Healthcare?
Are your patients turning into consumers? For a lot of people, the word “patient” implies sub-servience, while the word “consumer” acknowledges the important role that people can play inchoosing their own healthcare. Since physicians think of themselves as healers rather than sales people, this shift in terminology may represent a pretty revolutionary change in the way patients and physicians interact.
Guide to Well-Being
- Doctor’s Digest — Exercise
Although we’re all familiar with the health benefits, exercise is a hard sell within the physician community. There’s just not enough time in the day for it, we tell ourselves with a shrug, and we let it go at that. But there are ways that you can fit exercise into your daily routine no matter how busy you are, if you just make up your mind to do it.
- Doctor’s Digest — Stress
Stress management experts are seeing consistent signs of stress among medical personnel, including marriage troubles, overeating, and physical problems like insomnia, headaches, and lower back pain. One thing you can count on: the stress of practicing medicine will always be there. So it’s going to be up to you to recharge your battery on a daily basis.
- Doctor’s Digest — Volunteering
Volunteering is a wonderful way for a physician to reach new heights of personal satisfaction and growth. The reasons for volunteering are as diverse as the people who do it. Their main motive is usually to help other people, but there are plenty of other benefits as well.
- Doctor’s Digest — The Emergency Plan
Physicians don’t have to look far back to remember an emergency, whether a severe local blizzard or a national crisis like the attacks of September eleven. Since that day, the healthcare world has changed its outlook on disaster preparedness, and doctors now have a heightened awareness of the urgency of the issue. Still, most of us have not taken adequate measures to prepare our practices for an emergency.
- Doctor’s Digest — Preparing the Staff
We’ve learned one thing from every medical disaster we’ve ever been through—whether pandemic flu, a smallpox epidemic, an outbreak of SARS, or the attacks of September eleven. And that one thing is this: that emergency planning on the part of the medical community is an absolute essential. One important aspect of preparing your practice for an emergency is knowing the personal readiness of your staff.
- Doctor’s Digest — Communicating in an Emergency
What does your office need to do to prepare for an emergency? The answer to that question will depend on the structure and focus of your particular practice. Obviously, an ambulatory surgery center will have more complicated needs than a small outpatient practice. But the important thing is to ask yourself various contingency questions, such as this: How would we contact our patients if they were suddenly forced to leave town? And how would we access patient records if our office had to shut down?
- Doctor’s Digest — The Concept of Evidence-based Medicine
How do you feel about EBM? Some physicians hope that EBM will be able to speed up the time it takes for new treatments to move from bench to bedside. Others don’t share that optimism. They worry that EBM may encourage “cookie-cutter medicine” that will minimize the unique relationship between the physician and the patient. It’s possible to debate the merits, but it seems clear that EBM is going to influence the practice—and the business—of medicine for many years to come.
- Doctor’s Digest — Implementing Evidence-based Medicine
Applying EBM to your practice can enhance the performance within your office and improve your patient outcomes. But exactly how you decide to apply EBM will vary greatly depending on the size and nature of your practice.
- Doctor’s Digest — Evidence-based Databases
EBM is a data-based concept, and the amount of data streaming in from claims data and electronic medical records is getting more and more voluminous all the time. Not only that: an estimated 82 randomized, controlled trials are published every day. Physicians just don’t have time to review all the literature that may apply to a particular patient’s situation. There has to be some kind of selection process. What are your options?
Personal & Professional Growth
- Doctor’s Digest — Avoiding Burnout
EBM is a data-based concept, and the amount of A lot has been written about physician burnout—how to recognize the signs and symptoms and how to get back on track. But the best course is to avoid burnout in the first place. The challenge is to find a workable balance between your work and your life so that burnout can never happen.
- Doctor’s Digest — Continuing Medical Education
Almost every state in the country requires physicians to complete a certain number of hours of continuing medical education, or CME, in order to maintain their medical license. But CME is important for another reason, too: it offers you a chance to stay clinically current, challenged, and invigorated. The current issue of Doctor’s Digest, entitled “Personal and Professional Growth,” offers the following information about how to make CME a convenient and helpful addition to your professional life.
- Doctor’s Digest — Working Part-time
Although physicians in some specialties tend to work more hours than others, the average physician clocks significantly more than the standard five eight-hour days. Physicians in anesthesiology, obstetrics and gynecology, general surgery, and urology report averages above 60 hours per week. Dermatology, emergency medicine, and pathology doctors clock in on the low end, but still hover around 46 hours per week. Once a physician makes the decision to scale back to part-time, the question becomes how to do it.
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