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Useful Managed Care Patterns and Procedural Utilization Trends

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Part One of Two

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA


If you read this ME-P regularly or have read my earlier blogs, you know that I am writing a book on practice management for the private medical practitioner.

The Business of Medical Practice [Transformational Health 2.0 Skills for Doctors]; third edition: www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

Link: Front Matter BoMP – 3

And, a recent story in the Chicago Tribune on the difficult business life of private practitioners today reminds me that I need to keep my nose to the grindstone.

For example, knowing your medical contract negotiation objectives, gathering information on the choices of contracts and discount payment systems, and understanding the pitfalls to watch for when evaluating a contract are the keys to any successful negotiation process.

Reimbursement Contract Negotiations

According to the sanofi-aventis Pharmaceutical Company Managed Care Digest Series, for 2008-10, the following pattern and trend comparative information has been empirically determined and may provide a basic starting point for practitioners to share business management, facilities, personnel, and other records for enhanced contract negotiation success.



Procedural Utilization Trends

  • Among all physicians in a single-specialty group practice, invasive cardiologists averaged the most encounters with total hospital inpatient admissions down from the prior year. However, encounters rose for cardiologists in multispeciality group practices.
  • Echocardiography was the most commonly performed procedure on HMO seniors, followed by coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Group practices performed cardiovascular stress tests for circulatory problems most often.
  • CT studies of the brain and chest were the most common studies for HMO seniors, while MRI head studies were the most common diagnostic test on commercial HMO members.
  • Colonoscopy was the most common digestive system procedure on senior HMO members, while barium enemas were more common on commercial members.
  • Hospital admission volume decreased for allergists, family practitioners, internists, OB/GYNs, pediatricians, and general surgeons.
  • Internists ordered more in-hospital laboratory procedures than any other physicians in single-specialty groups.
  • Non-hospital MD/DOs used in-hospital radiology services most frequently, continuing a three-year upward trend.
  • Pediatricians averaged the most ambulatory encounters, down from the prior year.
  • Non-hospitalist internists ordered a higher number of in-hospital laboratory procedures than any other single medical specialty group, but allergists and immunologists increased their laboratory usage.
  • The number of ambulatory encounters increased for general surgeons, while group surgeons had the most cases. Capitated surgeons, of all types, had a lower mean number of surgical cases than surgeons in groups without capitation. Surgeons in internal medical groups also had more cases than those in multi-specialty groups.
  • The average number of total office visits per commercial and senior HMO visits fell, along with the number of institutional visits for both commercial and senior HMO members.
  • The average length of hospital stay for all commercial HMO members increased to 3.6 days but decreased to 6 days for all HMO members.
  • The total number of births increased for commercial HMO members served by medical group practices, and decreased for solo practitioners.
  • More than one-third of all medical groups use treatment protocols, rising from the year before. Multi-specialty groups were more likely to use them than single-specialty groups, who often develop their own protocols. The use of industry benchmarks to judge the quality of healthcare delivery also increased.
  • Outcome studies are most common at larger medical groups, and multi-specialty groups pursue quality assurance activities more often than single-specialty groups.
  • Provider interaction during office visits is increasingly coming under scrutiny. Patients approve of cardiologists more frequently than allergists and ophthalmologists.


Obviously, the above information is only a gauge since regional differences, and certain medical sub-specialty practices and carve-outs, do exist.

Part Two: Useful Managed Care Provider, Staffing, Activity and Financial Trends


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