Why Clinical Integration is Essential for the Future of Independent Physicians

med networkBy: Ben Humphrey, MD, CPE, MGO Healthcare Consulting – Guest Contributor

We’re past the tipping point and are proceeding headlong into new market-driven accountability for quality, cost and value.  As these large-scale changes progress, physicians who want to thrive and be positioned for long-term success will have to embrace new ideas and approaches in their practices.

A few years ago physicians in Ohio created their own physician-owned company to assist themselves with success in the changing world of healthcare.  Via their company, The Medical Group of Ohio (MGO), they created a clinically integrated physician network comprised of nearly 2,100 physicians.  The vast majority of these physicians are in small independent practices.  Being clinically integrated means the physicians are working together, using proven physician-created protocols and measures, to demonstrably improve patient care, decrease cost, and deliver value. Continue reading

Healthcare Reform Doesn’t Have to be All or Nothing

By: Jeff Cohen

pulling hairHealthcare professionals today are constantly faced with views of what’s changing in healthcare, and all of them seem equally convincing.  “One day, everyone will be employed by a hospital” is one of the favorites.  Not surprisingly, the proponents of that perspective tend to be….hospitals.  “Everyone has to merge their practices” is another favorite.  The proponents?  Large super practices, of course.

How does one sort through this?  Who’s right?  The truth is that everyone is seeing part of the whole and is “right.”  But being “right” doesn’t mean right for you.  My opinion? Continue reading

Discounted Fee Organizations Have Surprising Regulation

percentageThe idea of an organization which provides discounted fees to patients is not a new concept.  Organizations like independent physician associations (IPAs), even accountable care organizations (ACOs) and simpler discounted fee plans will be surprised to know that Florida may require them to be licensed by the  Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR), even though they do not handle pre payments and do not collect premiums.  That’s perhaps the most startling aspect of the regulations—there is no financial risk involved, and yet Florida law seems to require regulation.

Pursuant to Fla. Stat. 636.202(2), a “discounted medical plan organization” means an entity which, in exchange for fees, dues, charges, or other consideration, provides access for plan members to providers of medical services and the right to receive medical services from those providers at a discount.  A “discount medical plan” means a business arrangement or contract in which a person, in exchange for fees, dues, charges, or other consideration, provides access for plan members to providers of medical services and the right to receive medical services from those providers at a discount.  Fla. Stat. 636.202(1).  A discount medical plan does not include any product regulated under chapter 627, chapter 641, or part I of chapter 636 (governing Prepaid Limited Health Service Organization).  Fla. Stat. 636.202(1), which of course is no comfort to providers looking to garner or protect market share by discounting services or by creating a collection of discount services providers, which is typical of IPAs and “networks.”

Before doing business in Florida as a DMPO, an entity must be legally organized in a compliant way and must be licensed by the OIR as a discount medical plan organization or be licensed by the office pursuant to chapter 624 [Florida Insurance Code], part I of this chapter [Prepaid Limited Health Service Organization], or chapter 641 [HMO, Prepaid Health Clinic]. Fla. Stat. 636.204(1) emphasis added.  Each discount medical plan organization must at all times maintain a net worth of at least $150,000.

Providers looking to provide discounted fee arrangements in a simple and effective manner many be surprised to know how complex that endeavor in fact is.  Moreover, the discounts will likely (and ironically) have to be reduced in order to bear the state licensure and financial viability fees.  Go figure!

Marketing: Boldly Going Where No Practice Has Gone Before

By now, every physician has learned about ACOs, Super Groups, IPAs and the like. Virtually every “new” acronym and idea has revealed itself as a retread old one, so at least physicians are getting more comfortable with the new language of healthcare reform. And they are accepting that no one really knows what’s going to happen and how medical practice will ultimately be years from now.
Nearly every physician has asked in the past year or so “What do I do now?” And they have heard responses from every vendor which translates into “Buy my stuff.” Ask an IT person what to do…”Buy my stuff.” Ask an EMR person what to do…”Buy my stuff.” Ask a lawyer….ok enough.

What to do and when to do it in light of feared changes in healthcare is anyone’s guess. There is, however, one remarkably overlooked area of business which physicians have traditionally neglected and which they must focus on now more than ever—marketing.

Do you have a website? Do you know what SEO is and how it works? Do you believe that patients buy what you do and not just who you are? In the internet age when people buy mattresses online, sight unseen, physicians have to begin to learn about marketing.

Though years ago, practicing medicine was clearly a profession, it is now big business. And physicians who thrive will be those who embrace business practices, including marketing. This takes a huge shift in perception since most physicians look at marketing as an expense, not as a good investment.

If you were told that every dollar invested in marketing will yield five dollars in new business would you spend the money? If you were told that buying a stock will result in a five-fold yield over twelve months, would you invest? Physicians have to look as marketing as a good investment rather than simply as a cost. And those that do will likely grow and thrive.


ACOwatch: Kathleen Sebelius: Keynote Speech From 2nd Annual ACO Summit

6/28/2011: ACOwatch.com 
Remarks as prepared for delivery by Secretary Sebelius on June 27th, 2011, Washington, DC.

“Improving care is clearly the best approach to addressing rising costs – especially compared to recent proposals that would simply cut Medicare and Medicaid, without doing anything to address underlying growth in health care spending.  But it’s also clear that we are not improving fast enough.  So our challenge is to speed it up.”

Read more here: http://acowatch.com/

Jeff Cohen and Florida Healthcare Law Firm featured ACO interview on Medsider

Thank you @scottnelsonlive for featuring us on #Medsider today! Hear the interview here: #ACO http://medsider.com/interviews/accountable-care-orgnizations-interview-jeffrey-cohen-florida-healthcare-law-firm/


ACOs: The Interview We Want to See

http://www.xtranormal.com/site_media/players/jw_player_v54/player.swf