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CMS Seeks Comments on Medicare “DPC Model”

CMS Seeks Comments on Medicare “DPC Model”

“The Direct Primary Care (DPC) model is burgeoning as patients yearn for quality time with their doctor at an affordable price,” writes Marilyn Singleton, MD, JD in a recent oped.

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https://mailchi.mp/aapsonline/cms-dpc-model

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More on Medical Practice Business Costs

Unknown and Under-Appreciated by Many

By Rick Kahler CFP®

I recently talked with an administrator of a private medical practice about some of the financial challenges she faces in dealing with the medical system, insurers, and patients.

Some of the insights she gave me into the realities that private physicians face in providing medical care were rather disturbing.

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Here are a few of them.

Let’s start with the insurers who account for the bulk of their revenue. Many payments for procedures from insurance companies (including Medicare) are below the cost of providing the service. This forces physicians to make up the difference on other procedures or find other sources of income to sustain the profitability of the practice.

Conversely, in markets that have just one hospital, the insurance companies have no leverage. If the insurers won’t pay what the hospitals demand, the hospitals can threaten to drop out of the network, leaving the insurers with nowhere to send their insureds in those markets. The insurers end up agreeing to pay the hospitals more.

Charges for services provided in-house at the hospital can end up being substantially higher than those same services done by outside providers.

Example:

She gave me an example of a lab test that cost $1,500 to $2,000 at the hospital lab but $35 to $80 at an independent lab. Patients do have the option to direct the hospital to use an independent lab. But, how many people know that and will have the presence of mind to make the request? While it makes financial sense to price-shop if you have a high deductible HSA plan, there isn’t much incentive if your plan has low deductibles.

Collections

Another challenge is collecting from patients. She says a surprising percentage of Americans maintain checking accounts with no money or keep checks from accounts which have long been closed. While writing bad checks is a crime, those who game the system know they can probably get by with writing a low-dollar check because the cost of pursuing justice is much more than the check is worth.

Most companies would never do business with such a person again. Healthcare professionals tend to have a bias toward giving everyone services, so these same people do return requesting care. She said she and her physician employer have had huge internal arguments about this. Her position is that these people take advantage of the physician in a premeditated fashion and don’t deserve to be extended services. The physician argues that everyone, even deadbeats, deserves healthcare. Since the practice doesn’t provide life-and-death services, she was able to get the physician to agree that if someone has an outstanding bill they need to settle it upfront, in cash, before any new services are provided.

Then there are those who use credit cards and then fraudulently dispute the charges. Some providers let this go because of the difficulty of proving that the charge is legitimate. It requires photographs of customers during the transaction, copies of driver’s licenses, customers’ signatures on the paperwork, and notarized statements from the provider verifying that this was the person who received services and presented the credit card.

***

http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

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SSNs

A final interesting point concerned patients’ Social Security numbers. She said the only time these are ever needed is when an outstanding bill is sent for collection. Otherwise, they are never accessed or used.

Assessment

Finally, she was quick to add that only a small fraction of their patients premeditate stealing from them. She also stressed that not all insurance companies or hospitals behave unethically, and some do wonderful, humane acts of kindness. Nevertheless, the lack of integrity that does occur on both sides is infuriating and adds to the cost of health services.

Conclusion

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Dr. Michel Accad: Why Can’t We Pay Cash for Doctors?

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By Michel Accad MD

***

Money

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Dr. Michel Accad: Why Can’t We Pay Cash for Doctors?

About

Dr. Michel Accad is a practicing cardiologist who blogs for a medical audience at alertandoriented.com

Conclusion

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What If You Could Start From Scratch – Doctor?

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How would you restart your career in medicine?

[By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™]

[By Hope Rachel Hetico RN MHA CMP™]

dave-and-hope9We’ve known this physician-client-friend for 10 years, and while he didn’t tell us what he wanted to discuss, we knew it was important.

After exchanging pleasantries, he shocked both of us: He said he’s totally unfulfilled in his current job and wants to do something new.

We were floored because he is an outstanding doctor – at the top of his game. From the outside looking in, he appears to be “living the dream”.

After that bombshell, we asked him the question we couldn’t get out of our mind: “Are you afraid?”

“Yes,” he said; “Afraid and relieved.”

His relief stemmed from the fact that he is going to shed the tremendous demands of being a doctor at the highest levels. He was afraid because he didn’t know what was next.

We thought afterward, “What a courageous and totally refreshing move.”

ME-P Doctors, Advisors and Consultants

A Fantasy Reboot

That dialogue triggered a larger internal conversation within; and with others.

  • What would you do if you could start from scratch?
  • How would you proceed if you could just wipe the slate clean and restart your career in medicine?

For those quietly pondering a similar path, three great opportunities seem crystal clear.

First, we would create our own practice playbook. Discard the ready-made choices served up by your old practice. For the independent physician today, there’s almost infinite variety. The pleasure in creating your own approach is that there are so many options. Your patients will appreciate the greater choice and flexibility, too.

Second, we would whole-heartedly embrace technology; but not necessarily EHRs at this time. Rather, build your own HIT framework to complement your medical practice. Innovate across your entire operations – everything from medical records, to online appointment access, secure FAX machines, to patient portals and laboratory results reporting to your own mobile phone app. Freeing yourself from your current archaic technology will be life altering by itself.

5 new rules for how doctors interact with health care IT

Third, cull the difficult people from your life. These are the naysayers who weigh you down – superiors, colleagues or patients. Negativity is corrosive, and it always lingers. It also distracts you from giving others your best. While you’re at it, cull the skills you mastered to survive in your career so you can focus on those that really matter.

Non-Traditional Doctors

Case Model

So, we wanted to share one of the all-time greatest reboots we know because it shows what is possible if you believe in yourself.

A decade ago, one of our osteopathic physician clients delivered some bad news. She was quitting her job as a medical associate, to transition into her own direct pay practice.

At the time, this was unheard of: No one walked away from a potential medical practice partnership to become a solo physician. But, Sue had a different vision. She wasn’t fulfilled and she knew it. With the support of her husband, she decided there was a better way. So she started from scratch.

How did it work out?

Unbelievably well – but NOT overnight!

With our meager assistance, Sue’s been cash flow positive for the last 7 years, and now earns more money than before, with less stress; and she is the captain of her ship. A few colleagues who have worked with her have even gone on to achieve comparable success. She’s become a role model to others too, and she remains one our heroes.

The Decision

Starting from scratch may or may not translate into more money, but it often means this: More happiness in your life. Sue’s decision, just like our friend who bared his soul to us over coffee, were both made for the right reasons.

We wish our friend well on his journey, confident knowing that a happy ending is just over the horizon for him, too.

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Assessment

Send us your own success/failure story, so we might learn from you. Would you even stay in medicine or transition/begin another career; anew?

Conclusion

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3 Reasons Doctors Are Ditching Insurance And Offering Care For Cash

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Moving away from public healthcare and towards private models

[By Jessica Socheski]

jsWith the new healthcare system in effect, many doctors are moving away from public healthcare and towards private models. Instead of taking insurance, programs like the corporate wellness plans from MDVIP and other direct primary care doctors are choosing to deal in cash only with their patients. And in essence, they are cutting out the expense of a middleman insurance company.

Many doctors have taken it upon themselves to create a model that helps more than it hinders. Here are three reasons why doctors are choosing private healthcare over public.

1. The Patient Comes First

For many people, the new healthcare insurance price has skyrocketed, making it difficult to pay for healthcare let alone use it when needing a doctor. Direct primary care doctors provide their basic or preventative care that their patients can afford without using their insurance and meeting high deductibles.

Doctors who have embraced this model find they are able to offer their patients a variety of services for less money. This offers people the chance to receive quality care without paying an exorbitant amount. Without this model, many people would avoid the doctor all together, which could lead to serious undiscovered health problems.

2. Waiting Game

Since the Affordable Care Act, hospitals, urgent care, and public healthcare offices have noticed an increase in patients, leaving both waiting rooms and doctors inundated with patients. Unfortunately, this leaves doctors and nurses trying to juggle too many patients without enough help to accommodate them. Doctors are overworked and rushed, unable to spend a proper amount of time with a patient.

Consequently, the current healthcare model has pushed many public healthcare doctors towards privatized hair, leaving an even larger doctor deficit and nurse shortage in the public sector. But since these doctors have turned to private healthcare as their new business model, doctors have the time and availability to meet with their patients and build a relationship with them.

Under private healthcare, patients can schedule appointments with their doctors to have a proper visit where both the physician and patient feels they been given an adequate amount of time—the doctor for diagnosing and the patient for quality care.

3. Doctor Freedom

The direct primary healthcare model is not something entirely new. But it is just now growing in popularity as doctors and patients search for relief from a problematic system. Before congress passed legislation in 1973 that led to the expansion of prepaid health plans, the majority of physicians operated in a fee-for-service model.

Under insured health plans, physicians had little flexibility in determining what services they could provide and how to cut costs for their practices. Some insurance companies even dictate the hours during which doctors can be paid.

 Three Reasons Doctors Are Ditching Insurance And Offering Care For Cash

Image Source: http://www.newyorkmedicalservices.com

Assessment

By moving away from insured health, doctors are able to remove the shackles and dictate how they believe their patients should be cared for. Dr. Villarreal, a doctor in Laredo, Texas, states in regards to his direct primary business model, “To me, there’s no other way I would practice medicine. You feel like you’re a doctor again.”

Conclusion

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Understanding the Domestic “Shadow Economy”

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Is the US Economy Strong OR Not?

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA

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Dr David E Marcinko MBARecently, new highs for the DJIA and some better than expected jobs numbers pointed an outward sign of the US  economy’s continued — though sluggish — recovery from the Great Recession.

Workers in the Shadows

But, there may be another explanation for why consumers keep spending more despite higher payroll taxes and more pain at the gas pump.

Edgar Feige PhD Speaks

That reason is a thriving shadow economy, estimated to have reached as much as $2 trillion last year, according to a study (.pdf file) co-written by Edgar Feige, an economist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Assessment

A shadow economy is one where workers turn to employment that pays under-the-table. While that sometimes includes illegal activity, such as drug dealing, much of the shadow economy today appears to be in areas like service work such as babysitting; medicine, eye, foot and dental care; and working construction jobs for cash.

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Conclusion

And so, are new medical practice business models like retainer and concierge medicine, direct/private pay, or cash care more or less prone to participation in the underground healthcare economy?

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More on the Doctor Salary “WARS” – er! ah! … CONUNDRUM!

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Compensation Trend Data Sources

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By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA

[Editor-in-Chief] www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

Related chapters: Chapter 27: Salary Compensation and Chapter 29: Concierge Medicine and Chapter 30: Practice Value-Worth

 

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PERSONAL PREAMBLE

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Physician compensation is a contentious issue and often much fodder for public scrutiny. Throw modern pay for performance [P4P], and related metrics, into the mix and few situations produce the same level of emotion as doctors fighting over wages, salary and other forms of reimbursement.

This situation often springs from a failure of both sides to understand mutual compensation terms-of-art when the remuneration deal was first negotiated. This physician salary and compensation information is thus offered as a reference point for further investigations.

Introduction 

More than a decade ago, Fortune magazine carried the headline “When Six Figured Incomes Aren’t Enough. Now Doctors Want a Union.” To the man in the street, it was just a matter of the rich getting richer. The sentiment was quantified in the March 31, 2005 issue of Physician’s Money Digest when Greg Kelly and I reported that a 47-y.o. doctor with 184,000 dollars in annual income would need about 5.5 million dollars for retirement at age.

Of course, physicians were not complaining back then under the traditional fee-for-service system; the imbroglio only began when managed care adversely impacted income and the stock market crashed in 2008.

Today, the situation is vastly different as medical professionals struggle to maintain adequate income levels. Rightly or wrongly, the public has little sympathy for affluent doctors following healthcare reform. While a few specialties flourish, others, such as primary care, barely move.

In the words of colleague Atul Gawande, MD, a surgeon and author from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, “Doctors quickly learn that how much they make has little to do with how good they are. It largely depends on how they handle the business side of practice.”  And so, it is critical to understand contemporary thoughts on physician compensation and related trends.

Compensation Trend Data Sources

A growing number of surveys measure physician compensation, encompassing a varying depth of analysis. Physician compensation data, divided by specialty and subspecialty, is central to a range of consulting activities including practice assessments and valuations of medical entities. It may be used as a benchmarking tool, allowing the physician executive or consultant to compare a practitioner’s earnings with national and local averages.

The Medical Group Management Association’s (MGMA’s) annual Physician Compensation and Production Correlations Survey is a particularly well-known source of this data in the valuation community. Other information sources include Merritt Hawkins and Associates; and the annual the Health Care Group’s, [www.theHealthCareGroup.com] Goodwill Registry.

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Assessment

However, all sources are fluid and should be taken with a grain of statistical skepticism, and users are urged to seek out as much data as possible and assess all available information in order to determine a compensation amount that may be reasonably expected for a comparable specialty situation. And, realize that net income is defined as salary after practice expenses but before payment of personal income taxes.

Conclusion

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Cash May Soon be King in Hospital Care

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Forget About Health Insurance, Darling!

Only the little people pay with insurance.

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™

[Editor-in-Chief]

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

Like many other doctors, I remember my dismay when I saw uninsured patients paying full price for their medical care. Insurance companies used their market clout and patient volumes to negotiate discounts for their insureds that have always been unavailable to the uninsured, MSA, HSA participants or individual healthcare consumers.

The Insider Gossip

There is even industry hearsay that some charity-care and non-profit hospitals charge their indigent patients up to four times more than their insured patients in order to have huge write-offs [bad-debt expenses] so as to secure private and public monetary grants. After all; many non-profit CEOs are well paid, indeed.

But, the tide may be turning on the healthcare institutional level as cash becomes king in the new economy and world of healthcare 2.0

Cash Patients Rule – Insured Patients Drool

Of course, we’ve written about direct care, concierge care and cash care medical practice business models before on this ME-P. And, I’ve been ranting and raving, opining and testifying, as well.  It is being written about in the blog-o-sphere, on the hospital level, increasingly.

Link:  http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2012/06/hide-health-insurance-status-pay-cash.html

We even have an entire Chapter 29 devoted to the codified topic in our newest book The Business of Medical Practice.

Link: http://businessofmedicalpractice.com/chapter-29/

Source: Austin Frakt PhD’s TIE cartoon via Brad Flansbaum.

The Coming Payment Apocalypse

The days of paying more when paying cash may be coming to an end. Doctors and hospitals are starting to do what every other business has done since the beginning of time – give a discount for cash. States are beginning to require pricing transparency and hospitals and physicians are starting to publish their “cash prices” for all to see.

And, why not when it can take up to two years to be reimbursed a fraction of the billed amount from Medicaid and Medicare payers, and CMS, etc? Now, don’t get me started on some highly discounted private payers and managed care plans.

Assessment

What do you think of this trend as a healthcare provider; Financial Advisor, medical management consultant or patient? Are you in favor of this private business arrangement; or do you favor the proposed public Obama Care business model?  Is it even legal? How about keeping the status-quo?

Conclusion

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Pre-Reform Impact of Self-Pay Patients on US Hospitals

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Pre-healthcare reform, and full PP-ACA implementation, many hospitals experience significant uncompensated care costs from self-pay patients.  This infographic illustrates the variation in self-pay uncompensated care costs across US hospitals and regions.

Despite the uncompensated care risk, 1/6th of self-pay inpatients are scheduled admissions, though their procedures are much less elective than the procedures of the insured.

Conclusion

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About Guardian24/7 Premium Global Concierge Medical Care

What it is – How it works

[By Staff Reporters]

According to their website and TV infomercials, the principals of www.Guardian247.com developed the medical systems and protocols for the President of the United States [POTUS], senior White House officials and members of the President’s cabinet to ensure the best possible medical care anywhere in the world.

Today, the convergence of telemedicine technologies and reliable telecommunications has enabled a business model for this same level of service to be brought to the private sector – for the first time.

Telemedicine Enabled

Utilizing state of the art telemedicine broadband capability, and pre-positioned medical equipment, a team of former White House physicians administer services that are purportedly nearly as effectively as if they were on location, saving hours of time and anxiety for routine medical needs – and possibly saving a life in an emergency situation.

Like an Emergency Room

The company favors a core concept known as A ReadyRoom™ that is an installation of medical equipment, supplies and medications pre-placed and installed in a client’s primary residence and/or remote vacation home, jet or yacht. Custom-tailored to the needs and the client and his/her family and location, the ReadyRoom’s™ state of the art technology allows Guardian’s physicians to direct the proper use of the medicine, supplies and equipment either via telephonic or through advanced video teleconferencing links. The model is reminiscent of an emergency room; always on-call, available for use and expensive.  

Assessment

For those who recognize that their most important asset – is their health –  this company has a serious concierge medicine type solution that is not available to the masses. As CEO of Guardian 24/7, Jonathan Frye leads the company’s efforts to provide presidential-level medical care to clients; anywhere and anytime.

Conclusion

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Off Road Touring in Boston with Dr. Marcinko

How Doctors Get Paid

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]

Just before the Christmas Holidays, I flew up to Boston at the invitation of a pharmaceutical company to lead a managerial workshop entitled: “How Doctors Get Paid” [Treatment is only the beginning in the Changing Billing and Medical Reimbursement Climate].

Our goal was to inform drug representatives, and their regional managers, what value added information physician offices might expect from the pharmaceutical industry of the future.  

Topics of Discussion

The two hour interactive workshop included team projects, flip chart exercises, a mock role-playing session and the customary [hopefully energetic] ppt presentation. Other topics of discussion included:  

  • Health insurance payment evolution
  • Collapse of Medicare
  • Rise of managed care
  • Medical records documentation
  • ICD-9 and 10, HCPCS, DRGs and CPT® coding
  • ABNs, super-bills and HCFA 150 forms
  • Billing methodologies
  • Healthcare fraud, abuse and related policies
  • Capitation, HSAs, concierge medicine and RACs
  • Futuristic health 2.0 payment mechanisms, and more.

Assessment

Rest assured; these folks were a very knowledgeable and aggressive group; not like your father’s “detail men” of yore! They seek to … talk the talk, and walk the walk, of the Health 2.0 era.

Many thanks again to Helen, and Jon D, for the invite.

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Return on Investment Calculations for [Concierge] Medical Practice Marketing Initiatives

Calculating Tangible ROI for Intangible Activities

By DeeVee Devarakonda; MBA [Former CMO of Quaero, Inc]

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA [Publisher-in-Chief]Doctor with Advisor

Gone are the days when money was freely spent on medical practice marketing activities such as the yellow pages, radio or TV advertisements. And, today’s internet based business climate is especially harsh for ethereal programs that can not present a clear Return on Investment [ROI] for their existence. Concierge and cash-based medical practice marketing is especially vulnerable in this climate unless supported with a sound ROI argument.

The Challenge

A very basic challenge all medical practices is not only pooling the resources but also allocating them wisely. ROI arguments help practices make those choices. Typically marketing budget and outlay decisions focus on operating expenses like public relations, podcasts, webcasts and internet advertising. However, marketing can also involve capital investment decisions. To be successful, medical practitioners should learn to speak the language of business and build ROI analysis to support such initiatives.

How do you calculate the ROI for internet marketing initiatives?

Here are some basic steps to help you build the ROI scenario for your marketing initiatives:

  1. Detail the marketing costs:
  2. Estimate the revenue impacts:
  • Hardware – computers, servers, accessories
  • Software  – database, campaign management software
  • Implementation costs of hardware and/or software
  • Internal resource costs associated with the deployment of the capital improvement
  • Upfront investments in call centers, staff, equipment and so on.
  • Increase in patient response rates
  • Increase in patient conversion and practice acceptance rates
  • Increase cross-sell product and services ratios
  • Decreased account patient attrition rates
  • Increase in practice CM fees
  • Increase in average spend per patient/account
  • Increase in average number of patient transactions.

Practices can use past experiences to guesstimate the revenue impact; others like-minded colleagues.

Net Present Value

Once you calculate the revenue and cost impacts, you need to calculate the Net Present Value (NPV) of your marketing initiative. For a marketing project, if the NPV is greater than zero that means your project will make money; if it is less than zero – it will not (and you typically need a compelling business reason to implement a marketing project with an NPV less than zero).

NPV calculations include:

1) Investment – money you expend for the initiative at the beginning

2) Revenues – that accrue as a result of the initiative over a period – can be one time or a recurring revenue

3) Costs – that accrue as a result of the initiative over a period – can be one time or a recurring item

4) Discount rate – your accountant can give this rate.

5) Time Period – define the time period for which you would like to compute the NPV.

6) NPV is the cumulative differential between the revenue and cost stream discounted at the discounted rate minus the investment.

NPV=SUM ((Rt-Ct) / (1+r)t) – I

t=1

Given:

where t represents time, n  represents the number of time periods, R is revenue impacts, C is cost impacts, r is the discount rate and I is the Investment.

An NPV >0 means the project will pay for itself, <0 means the project does not pay for itself and an NPV of zero will give you a break even.

Assessment

Remember NPV is simply a guideline to help quantify the marketing results to make informed investment decisions. Note: NPV calculations that include assumptions also allow room for error. Spreadsheets help calculate the NPV for any initiative. Simple software can also help develop “what-if” scenarios with various values for NPV components and marketing options. The model can be used for non-marketing, or any initiative, as well.

Conclusion

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Introducing Dr. Leila M. Hover

Our Newest ME-P Thought-Leader

By Ann Miller; RN, MHA

[Executive-Director]

Dr. Lee Hover

Leila M. Hover, D. Med. Hum, has a varied background having worked in OB/GYN and as a Clinic Supervisor in a Planned Parenthood Center. She served as Director of a hospital medical library, and then as Director of Scientific Information in several medical communications/advertising organizations.

Interest in Concierge Medicine

Her doctoral dissertation topic was concierge medicine, in which she has a continuing interest.

Assessment

Dr. Hover is a member of the Institutional Review Board of the Atlantic Health System in New Jersey and the Bioethics Committee of Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey. She is also a principal at Information Developers, a medical literature research and document retrieval organization.

ME-P Shout-Out

And so, please give a warn ME-P “shout-out” to Dr. Lee Hover, our newest thought-leader. 

Conclusion

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Concierge Medicine and the “Zombie” Medical Practices

Continued Growth of Boutique Medical Practices Today

[By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA CMP™]dem2

The boutique, or direct reimbursement, or cash based medicine, or concierge medical practice business model requires an annual fee for personalized treatment that includes amenities far beyond those offered in the typical practice, or suggested by physician medical unions. Patients pay annual out-of-pocket fees for top tier service, but also use traditional health insurance to cover allowable expenses, such as inpatient hospital stays, outpatient diagnostics and care, and basic tests and physician exams. Typical annual fees can range from $1,500 to $ 5,000 per patient, to family fees that top $25,000 a year, or more. The concept, initially developed for busy corporate executives, has now made its way to others desiring such service.

A Higher Level of Care

Medical providers get to provide a much higher level of care and get to know their patients as they enjoy the incentive to spend appropriate time with them, and over time, get to know them within their unique social/cultural context as well (hence the house calls become important). Patients enjoy the access, the attentiveness, and are willing to spend cash to have the type of unhurried, contemplative time with physicians that is required to develop a trusted relationship and deliver high quality care. The financial remuneration potential is compelling as well.

Now, let us compare and contrast various parameters of traditional medical practice [third party reimbursement] with the same parameters of  so-called “new-wave” concierge medicine. Then, let the next-generation of doctors decide.

Current Traditional Model

  • patients seen at 15-20 min increments
  • 2,000 – 3,000 patients
  • Paperwork, administrative burdens, frustrations, and lack coordinated care
  • Impersonal experience (long waits, un-intelligible interactions with health care system)
  • Average Salary = $150,000-250,000

Concierge Practice Model Potential

  • direct relationship with patients
  • 300-500 patients
  • $1,500 – $3,000 access/retainer fee
  • Reduced overhead, positive interactions, care coordination and increased quality
  • Personalized experience (reduced headaches and paperwork with transparent pricing)
  • 24/7 access, same day appointments with multiple other amenities
  • Average Salary = $100,000 – $500,000

Enter the Franchisors

Concierge medical practices can be developed organically, or use a franchise business model [personal communication, Suzanne R. Dewey, Forté Partners, LLC, Williamstown, MA]. Examples of franchisors include:

Opponents and Pessimists

There have been plenty of opponents, within medicine and outside, to the idea of concierge practices almost from the first day.  For example,

The state of Washington’s insurance commissioner attacked the concept of practices offering all the primary care patients needed for a prepaid fee or retainer, arguing that such practices amounted to the business of underwriting health insurance. He said that the practices would have to meet all the regulatory requirements for such an insurance business, including establishing capital reserves and maintaining loss reserves for the payment of claims. It didn’t work, and besides, few concierge practices offer free traditional medical care once retainers are paid–most concierge physician’s bill insurance plans for all the services covered under their patients’ coverage.  The Medicare folks chimed in and managed to drive one physician out of business, arguing that he had tried to charge Medicare patients an extra $600 a year for services already covered by Medicare, hence he was guilty of illegal “balance billing.” Rather than fight Medicare over the issue, the doctor gave up and closed his practice. [C. Davis, “Big Problems for Medicare and Concierge Medicine,” Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine, 55:3, May/June, 2004 (www.ssvms.org)]” 

Attacking ME?

Objections to concierge medicine focus on both its causes and its effects, and some critics have even attack me, personally. For example, just look what “they” said in the online journal: “Health Care Strategic Management.”

Many critics argue that concierge medicine merely reflects physician greed and unconcern over the needs of the community. Indeed, a recent book by David Marcinko, Business of Medical Practice [Advanced Profit Maximization Techniques for Savvy Doctors], includes a chapter on “The Case for Concierge Medicine” (Ch. 24) as one of the ways ‘savvy’ physicians can maximize their profit, as if that is what medicine is all about. While the image of physicians may retain some Marcus Welby elements of their rushing to the hospital or a patient’s home in the middle of the night, most physicians would rather stay home and leave the job to someone else, it is argued”.

Nicht Schadenfreude

Just think! My mother always feared I’d be a no-body. Good publicity – bad publicity – just spell the name correctly. Schadenfreude may be defined as a “largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another which is cognized as trivial “ and I take no delight in the slow collapse of traditional medical practice models; or the economic, professional or personal pain of colleagues. But, I also often tell my critics – and clients – that although it’s awfully nice to be altruistic; I am always mindful of the competitive business adage: “no margin-no mission.” And, in as much as this attack was written in July 2005, I can only wonder if I was prescient, or just lucky? With all due respect, I believe it was the former, rather than the later. Why so? Well, just consider how fast www.ChoiceMed.com is growing. This stuff is not rocket-science.

www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.combiz-book1

About Concierge Choice Physicians

Concierge Choice Physicians: http://choice.md  is a national organization offering a hybrid business model. Physicians divide their practice between a traditional practice and a retainer practice. The retainer practice is limited to approximately 150 patients. A typical concierge practitioner may have 300-500 patients, while the norm for a traditionalist is about 2,000-3,000 patients.

Assessment – Whither the “Zombies”

I, also ruefully wonder how many “zombie” medical practices [practitioners] are out there? You know the kind – a medical practice with neither a good/bad balance sheet. One with only subsistence level operating performance; a practice that is not growing organically or thru merger activity. It is just barely existing as the doctor-in-charge slowly, agonizingly, milks it to death; or retires, whichever comes first.

Conclusion

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The Power of “ME Inc” for Physicians

Embracing a New Competitive Practice Culture

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]dem21

There are more than 900,000 physicians in the United States. Yet, the brutal supply/demand/demographic calculus of the matter is that there are just too many aging patients chasing too few doctors. Compensation and reimbursement is plummeting as Uncle Sam becomes the payer-of-choice for more than 52% of us. And, the government as payer will likely increase with the Obama Administration. So, going forward, it is not difficult to imagine the following four rules for a new-wave competitive medical care culture for all physicians.

[A] Rule No. 1

Forget about large office suites, surgery centers, fancy equipment and the bricks and mortar that comprised traditional medical practices. One doctor with a great idea, good bedside manner or competitive advantage, can outfox a slew of CPAs, while still serving the public and making money. It’s a unit-of-one healthcare economy where “ME Inc.”, is the standard and physicians must maneuver for advantages that boost their standing and credibility among patients and payers. Examples include patient satisfaction surveys, the rise of evidence-based medicine; outcomes research analysis, concierge medicine, direct reimbursement payment plans, and economic credentialing; etc.

 [B] Rule No. 2

Challenge conventional wisdom, think outside the traditional payer box, recapture your dreams and ambitions, disregard conventional gurus and work harder – and smarter – than you have ever worked before. Remember the old saying, “if everyone is thinking alike, then nobody is thinking”. Do insurance panel members think rationally or react irrationally?

However, you should realize the power of networking, vertical integration and the establishment of virtual medical practices, which come together to treat a patient, and then disband when a successful outcome achieved. Job security in this structure is achieved with successful outcomes, and perhaps not necessarily a degree in the near future. Medical futurists even presume the establishment of virtual medical schools and hospitals, where students and doctors learn and practice their art on cyber-entities that look and feel like real patients, but are generated electronically through the wonders of virtual reality units.

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

HOFMS

[C] Rule No 3

Differentiate yourself among your medical peers. Do or learn something new and unknown by your competitors. Market your accomplishments and let the world know. Be a non-conformist. The conformity of health insurance plans are an operational standard and a straitjacket on creativity. Doctors should create and innovate, not blindly follow entrenched medical society leaders into oblivion. Seek, and practice, health 2.0 collaboration with all stakeholders.

[D] Rule No 4

Realize that the present situation is not necessarily the future. Attempt to see the future and discern your place in it. Master the art of the quick change and fast but informed decision making. Do what you love, disregard what you don’t, and let the fates have their way with you. Then, decide for yourself if health plans adhere to any of the above rules?

AssessmentKung Fu

Regardless of the future de facto business model of the learned profession of medicine, current practice models are no longer the structure of choice. Rather, a more laissez-faire and highly competitive business model should be pursuedPhysicians have been slow to accept this philosophy.  Remember, as a physician, if you merely want a static job with promised security, pledged retirement benefits, limited goals and structured regulations; join a health plan panel and become their laborer.

However, if you desire more, such as the possibility of a dynamic career, the unlimited security of your brainpower, non-defined retirement contributions, infinite potential with rules you can create along the way; incorporate the power of ME, Inc., in everything you do. Remain a competitive professional and be a physician ... Get fly! 

Conclusion

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Defining and Understanding “Boutique Medicine”

What it is – How it Works

img_0566

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA 

http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

According to colleague Robert James Cimasi of Health Capital Consultants LLC in St. Louis MO, concierge or boutique medical practices began in the mid-1970s, and are now in many major metropolitan areas. Concierge medicine is described as a “return to old-fashioned medicine,” where physicians limit their client base and devote more time to each patient. Patients can usually get in to see their physician within a day, and most have 24-hour access to their physician by beeper or cell phone.

The Doctor’s Perspective

Physicians who turn to concierge medicine are typically tired of not having enough time with their patients and dealing with overbooked caseloads, and are looking for a way of balancing their lives while still providing quality care for their patients. Patients who have physicians in this type of practice appreciate the “perks” they get for paying a yearly fee — similar to “annual membership dues.” These fees can range anywhere from $1,000 per year to $10,000 per year depending on the patient’s age, benefits received, area of the country, and practice.

Patient Amenities

Amenities vary by practice, but some include longer physician office visits, increased access to physicians, e-mailed “newsletters” or condition-specific information, physicians accompanying patients on visits to specialists, and house calls. In order to provide more attentive care and amenities to patients, physicians often decrease their patient load to approximately 10-25% of their managed care load. Thus, most of their patients must find other physicians, leading to potential increases in the patient load of managed care physicians.

Elitist Patients

Although concierge medicine may provide many benefits for patients (including more, and in some cases, nearly unlimited access to their physicians), it has been met with some scrutiny. Some say that this type of medicine is elitist, that it is available only to wealthy patients who can pay the annual fees. Medicare beneficiaries who are members of a concierge practice have received political attention, because many politicians have said that the annual fees patients pay is a lot more than the Medicare rate and thus is illegal billing.

dhimc-book23

Critics

Critics also emphasize that healthcare needs to be first-rate for everyone, something that the current managed care system prevents. The implication that managed care means second-class medicine has also been a fear cited by critics.

Assessment

However, concierge physicians portray their clients as mostly middle-income people who are willing to pay more for this kind of care. Concierge medicine is not a substitute for health insurance. Patients typically keep their traditional insurance to pay for any tests or scans ordered by the physician.

MORE: https://medicalexecutivepost.com/2009/10/26/customer-relationship-management-and-the-nascent-concierge-medical-practice/

MORE: https://medicalexecutivepost.com/2009/10/26/customer-relationship-management-and-the-nascent-concierge-medical-practice/

Conclusion

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Direct Reimbursement [DR] and RiskManagers.Us

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Transparent Dental Benefits versus Confusion

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]

pruitt

“If you are not a part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.” 

Company slogan- www.riskmanagers.us

Meet Mr. William Rusteberg

Today, I met William Rusteberg on the PennWell forum when he replied to the thread, “Why the long NPI, BCBS-TX?” which I copied below, along with my response which includes a plug for Direct Reimbursement [DR].

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/forum/topics/why-the-long-npi-bcbstx?page=1&commentId=2013420%3AComment%3A26976&x=1#2013420Comment26976

Mr. Rusteberg represents a company called RiskManagers.Us, whose specialty involves the benefits market, yet it is not exactly an insurance company – just like there is no such thing as true dental insurance.  RiskManagers.us is a firm that works directly with businesses to identify and develop cost-effective benefits packages – emphasizing transparency and fairness.  Now that is refreshing, friends! 

Defining RiskManagers.Us 

Here is how RiskManagers.us describes itself: 

“We do not work for an insurance company, we work for you. As an independent brokerage, and consulting firm we can represent any licensed insurance company in Texas, Colorado, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Illinois & Florida.”

If one visits the Web site’s “Reference Library,” here are some of the topics offered:

·         Self Funding – Need a second opinion?

·         Texas leads in transparency issues

·         Can’t get claim information? HB 2015 May Solve Your Problem

·         Medical Stop Loss Through a Captive

·         PPO Discounts – Games People Play

·         PPO Networks – Shell Game

·         Can Hospitals waive Deductibles in Texas?

“What is a NPI number?” 

Mr. Rusteberg’s initial question on the PennWell forum simply asked, “What is a NPI number?”  Following my explanation, he wrote: 

 “It seems that many of those in your profession would do well in accepting cash only, or directly working with employer groups who sponsor dental/medical plans on a direct pay basis. We have had good success in doing this for our clients – we have one employer in San Antonio who pays medical care providers directly and quickly – providers like it and the plan pays a fair and reasonable rate, not relying on a PPO network to “re-price” claims. We have done the same on dental plans, eliminating the insurance company, PPO network and paying dental care providers submitted charges directly and quickly. We see little or no trend increases on dental charges using this method. In my view, insurance companies interfere in patient – provider relationships in a financially detrimental way.”

Thanks for your reply.

My Response:

I like you, William; 

What you describe sounds like my all-time, personal favorite dental benefits plan. It is called Direct Reimbursement {DR}, and it not only gives the employer the unlimited capability to design a plan which reflects the level of commitment desired by the company, but most importantly, it naturally preserves quality of care by allowing employees unlimited freedom of choice in dentists.  And that’s as good as the market gets. 

http://www.directreimbursement.com/

In addition, since there are no NPI requirements for DR, employees are also permitted see dentists who decline NPI numbers for ethical reasons. That increases employees’ choice by 50% over BCBS-TX clients, according to recent information provided by the Healthcare IT Transition Group.

http://www.npidentify.com/stats.htm#states

Little Management Needed

Just like the benefits plans you mention, with DR, very little money is spent on management because such policies are so simple and transparent that there is no room for profit-enhancing (wasteful) confusion used by unethical companies like BCBSTX, Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealth, Delta Dental, United Concordia, and so many other members of the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP).

Assessment

Without transparency and the invisible hand of freedom-of-choice, free-market competition for healthcare dollars disappears as fast as executive bonuses rise. We’ll see where it goes from here. It would sure be swell if a Direct Reimbursement representative takes interest in the conversation; anyone home? 

Conclusion

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Enhancing Revenue Cycles with Recondo

About SurePayHealthPayment Processing

Staff Reporters

stk305087rknConsumer-driven health care [CDHC], high-deductible health plans [HDHPs], medical and health savings accounts [MSAs/HSAs] are changing the rules of revenue cycle management for medical practices, clinics, retail facilities and hospitals. In fact, compared to other industry segments, health care payment processing remains extremely inefficient; for example, the retail segment settles payments for less than two percent of revenue, and financial services settles payments for less than one percent. Some health economists even estimate that if health care could settle payments even for 10 percent of revenue, savings would exceed $100 billion.

Graphs: http://www.recondotech.com/pdf/HSA-AHIP-January-2008.pdf

About Recondo Technolgy

According to the website, Recondo Technology was formed by a veteran team of experienced software developers with a singular goal: to build tools that help hospitals, offices and medical clinics accelerate patient payments and streamline claims to payers; especially in the emerging Consumer Directed Health Care model of US health care.

Product Offerings

Recondo is an early pioneer in verifying patient information, financially approving and clearing patients, predicting payment accurately, and automating the Medicaid/charity approval process. Recondo offers: 

· Real-time access to information that ensures payment sources for services are properly identified prior to, during, and after care delivery.

· Statement processing that handles approximately 300 million patient documents annually for healthcare providers throughout the country. 

Link: http://www.recondotech.com

Assessment

Accelerating the healthcare cash conversion cycle is a desirable business goal, especially if collection occurs at the point-of-contact. Nevertheless, all medical professionals should realize that their guiding principle should always be: Omnia pro Aegroto [all for the patient].   

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated; especially from our retail and concierge medical practitioners and subscribers.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Concierge Medical Practice Fee-Setting

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Pricing Decisions for Medical Providers

Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]

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Professional fee-setting and related pricing decisions for a concierge medical practice, like most businesses rather than most medical-entities, is complex and will significantly affect the doctor’s profits.

New Markets

When a concierge medical practice is first introduced into a local market, the physician-executive must make a choice between charging higher fees in order to recoup practice launch and development costs quickly; or charging lower fees and/or annual retainer subscriptions and extending his/her losses into the growth stage of the practice’s life-cycle. 

This is why consultants and franchisor’s suggest that it may be better to convert an existing practice in-situ, to a concierge model; than start the concierge practice from de-novo, scratch. Nevertheless, the choice should be a conscious one; rather than automatically made by default.

And, the decision will depend upon how target patients are expected to view the practice and its carefully selected medical services. 

Premium Pricing Strategy

If there is “premium-status or swagger” attached to concierge medical practice ownership, then a “price-skimming” approach might be used.  Price skimming, by definition, means setting initial professional fees high in order to achieve profits sooner; and then lowering them as the practice matures. Doctors who use this strategy will experience profits during the introductory stage of the concierge practice’s life cycle, and then reap organizational and operational economies of scale, down-line.

Early Adopter Strategy

If status is not an issue, the doctor may decide to charge lower fees in an attempt to achieve more rapid market local penetration and faster movement into the more profitable early-adopter stage.

A word of warning! If you set initial fees much lower than a price you can maintain and still make a profit, or have adequate working-capital set aside, it is imperative that you make the patient-subscriber aware of the fact that this initial low price is a special promotion that will be increased when over. Patients do not react very positively to unexpected large price increases and may believe the doctor is simply engaging in gouging activity.

Competition

If a doctor has competitors in the local marketplace, s/he can price services above, equal to, or below them.

Fees above one’s competitors implies that services are superior and deserve higher fees; while pricing below the competition level can imply the doctor is proving extra-value to patients in terms of cost-savings.

Pricing at the competitive level is the hardest strategy to follow for any concierge medical practice, but is the only appropriate one in an environment of pure competition. This is typically not yet the case for CM in most areas, to-date.

Assessment

Before settling on a specific fee schedule for your practice, make sure that you know the type of competitive environment that surrounds you and whether demand for your concierge medical services is elastic or inelastic.

Conclusion

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Concierge Medicine – New Wave or Drought?

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Boutique Medical Practices – Wave of the Future or Mirage?

[By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™]dr-david-marcinko1

Briefly, a new-wave boutique, or concierge medical practice business model requires an annual retainer fee for personalized treatment that includes amenities far beyond those offered in the typical practice. And, as doctors may not accept Medicare patients for two years thereafter, there is no going back to the economic oasis if the model doesn’t pan out.

Rather, patients pay annual out-of-pocket fees for top tier service, but also use traditional health insurance to cover allowable expenses, such as inpatient hospital stays, outpatient diagnostics and care, and basic tests and physician exams.   

Typical annual fees can range from $1,000 to $ 5,000 per patient, to family fees that top $20,000 a year, or more.  The concept, initially developed for busy corporate executives, has now made its way to those desiring such service; but the masses have been slow to accept the new business model. 

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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