Selecting Practice Management Consultants Wisely

Business Education Needed for Physicians and all Medical Colleagues

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™


While the doctors consult, the patient dies

-English Proverb

There are many self-help publications, online resources and management guru’s purporting to impart business information to their physician clients. Within the current managed care climate, economic malaise, and specter of nationalized healthcare following the 2010 health insurance reform legislation, medical business consultants are all the rage.

However, in the same vein, physician bankruptcies are mounting, medical student loan delinquencies are increasing, physician finances are friable and medical and ancillary practices are closing at record numbers. What gives?

Do Doctors Lack Business Knowledge?

Perhaps the answer lies in the lack of real business, accounting, financial and managerial acumen by the average practitioner? This growing concern is prompting more and more doctors to seek the help of a healthcare consultant or financial advisor. But, just what does a practice management consultant do, what credentials are needed to be in the business, and how can a healthcare advisor help you coordinate all aspects of your practice’s life? 

Here are two examples of major practice management fiascos.

Corporate Medicine and Doctor Super-Groups

As the managed and healthcare care crisis exacerbates, and Obama Care [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] unfolds over the next eight years, there will be many examples of irrational practice management behavior on the part of physicians, and no specialty is immune.

Just collectively reflect a moment on colleagues willing to securitize their practices a decade ago – and currently with so the so called medical super groups – and cash out to Wall Street for riches that were not rightly deserved. Where are firms such as MedPartners, Phycor, FPA and Coastal Healthcare now? A survey of the Cain Brothers Physician Practice Management Corporation Index of publicly traded PPMCs revealed a market capital loss of more than 99%, since inception; despite their various heath 2.0 re-incarnations. And, how will modern financial regulatory reform, Dodd-Frank, the SEC, insurance company and banking controls resulting from Wall Street’s 2008-09 economic debacles, impact physicians?

A Southern Gentleman and Solo Physician

Or, consider the personal situation of a solo Southern primary care physician who learned an accounting lesson the hard way when he asked his CPA to appraise his business. Upon sale, his attorney brother-in-law drew up the contract, as he was pleased the practice quickly sold for its full asking price. What he didn’t know, but would soon discover, is that accounting value or “book” value — the figure his accountant gave him — is far different than the fair-market value that he could have received for his long years of toil. Was the CPA wrong? Not really. Was the gentleman doctor incorrect? No. Both were merely operating under a different set of practice management terms, and accounting definitions, without communication or knowledge of each other’s perspectives. 


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