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WORKING WITH DOCTORS

Nearly 7 in 10 physicians now employed by hospitals and corporations, says report

Once upon a time, a medical degree was a ticket to life-time self-employment. That no longer seems to be the case—at least not the “self” part of the phrase. For years, hospitals and health networks have been gobbling up physician practices at increasing rates. And now a new study from the Physicians Advocacy Institute (PAI) finds that, as of the beginning of 2021, just 30 percent of all physicians in the U.S. are practicing medicine independently. The remaining 70 percent are employed by hospitals, private equity firms, health insurers or other corporate entities. Whither the independent physician? In addition to being a fixture of the U.S. health care system, the independent physician has been a part of Americana itself perhaps best captured in the paintings of Norman Rockwell. But now… . . . read more.

MANAGING PATIENTS

How medical practices can improve pricing transparency

By Tolu Ajiboye At least 10 million Americans have lost their health insurance due to the coronavirus pandemic and no longer have employer-sponsored health coverage linked to job loss as a result of the pandemic. With these shifts, more and more patients are paying for healthcare services out-of-pocket. Patients’ price sensitivity will also likely be heightened by these circumstances, which could have a negative impact on medication adherence. Consequently, it is critically important for medical practices to assess their current price transparency level and develop ways to improve it. Recent data reveals that nearly all patients want information about costs for healthcare services. An Accenture survey reported that “91% of consumers would like pricing information from providers in advance of care”. Here are some ways you can increase price transparency… . . . read more.

MANAGING PATIENTS

5 steps for managing a clinic efficiently

By Tom Greenhalgh Improving medical office efficiency requires evaluation and planning. If you’re constantly running behind schedule and chaos is standard operating procedure, these 5 steps can help you get and keep your practice running smoothly. Track and observe First things first: spend a few weeks tracking the flow of patients through your practice. You’ll want to know how many patients you see each day, how much time you spend with each patient, how many patients are there for the first time, and which days are most popular for first-time visits. This information can help you identify when your patient load is at or over capacity and allot an appropriate amount of time for each visit. Offer online scheduling The majority of medical practices that offer online scheduling see a… . . . read more.

WORKING WITH PATIENTS

5 ways to boost health literacy, improve medication compliance

By Lisa A. Eramo Let’s face it. Prescription medications are difficult to pronounce, and their regimens can be complex. Take three Pill As with food, one Pill B in the morning, and two Pill Cs right before bed. For patients with multiple chronic conditions and/or dementia, these challenges are even greater. They may find themselves asking, “Why am I even taking this medication? Perhaps it’s okay to skip a dose once in a while.” What’s something that can make a big difference in terms of medication compliance (i.e., taking medications on schedule and as prescribed)? Health literacy. Only 12% of U.S. adults have the health literacy skills needed to manage the demands of our complex health care system. When stress or illness comes into play, the ability to absorb and use health… . . . read more.

MANAGING PATIENTS

The growing importance of value-based care during COVID-19

Lisa A. Eramo bio Quality over quantity. It’s the fundamental concept behind value-based care (VBC). Providers are paid for rendering care that improves outcomes and lowers costs. During COVID-19, VBC is critical, and in many ways, the transition couldn’t have emerged at a better time. Here are five reasons why: Skyrocketing healthcare costs Healthcare costs have been on the rise long before the pandemic struck, and they certainly haven’t slowed down. VBC incentivizes providers to cut costs by using lower-cost—but equally as effective—drugs and devices. Practices can work with their life science reps to learn more about the value proposition for certain medications, devices, and more. VBC also incentivizes providers to perform procedures in lower-cost settings (i.e., outpatient vs. inpatient facilities). Each of these actions will help level out the… . . . read more.

MANAGING PATIENTS

Putting patients first is the best way of enhancing the doctor-patient relationship

By Dr. Neil Baum bio There is nothing in my practice of medicine that equals the joy of focusing on my patients and making every effort to ensure each encounter fosters a positive experience. Well, maybe one thing: positive outcomes. In my experience, the patients with whom I’ve developed close and trusting relationships seem to be better at following treatment plans, which helps improve positive outcomes. For decades, research has found strong indicators that the quality of the doctor-patient relationship impacts health outcomes. One significant finding is that the physician’s knowledge of the patient’s disorders and emotional state is associated positively with whether the physical ailments get resolved. Evidence shows that patients who feel they are not heard or are not respected by their doctors suffer poorer outcomes. A study from Massachusetts General Hospital… . . . read more.

COVID-19

What do I say to patients who ask about my team’s vaccination status?

By Paul Edwards bio As vaccinations continue to be distributed to more and more members of the American workforce, one of the recurring questions we are getting concerns how to respond to patients who ask about whether or not your team has been vaccinated. Patients might pose this question over the phone before their scheduled appointment, or might ask it to one of your employees during their visit. Your employees’ health information is protected In response to such a question, it’s important to remember that your employees’ personal health information is protected in just the same way as your patients’ health information. Therefore, it is generally not a good idea to offer information to your patients that might expose any of your employees’ inability (or unwillingness) to get vaccinated. If… . . . read more.

TECHNOLOGY

Google search interest in “telehealth” spikes 317% because of pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has brought a world of change, some of which might be permanent. Will we ever again pack concerts with close to 100,000 people or jam into subways like sardines? Will mask-wearing and social-distancing carry on long after the pandemic has ended? Has online shopping delivered the final nail in the coffin for brick-and-mortar shopping? Will traditional education give way to virtual learning? Will telehealth services and online doctors replace a sizable chunk of in-person doctor visits? That last one is entirely possible according to a new study completed by OnlineDoctor.com. By tracking national and state-by-state Google Search trends over a two-year duration, OnlineDoctor found there’s been a massive uptick in consumer telehealth interest since just about the exact day a national state of emergency was declared in… . . . read more.

Tool

Model waiver of COVID-19 infection liability sign to post at your medical office

As long as COVID-19 remains a threat, you run the risk of being sued by clients, vendors, guests and other visitors (“visitors”) who claim they contracted the virus at your office facility as a result of your inadequate safety measures. One way to limit liability is by conspicuously posting a sign at the entry of your facility indicating visitors’ agreement to waive their rights to sue you for COVID-19 infections by entering the office. Although there’s no guarantee that a court would enforce such a waiver, the Model Sign below uses fairly conservative language that has been found to be enforceable in other situations. Caveat: The inclusion of the phrase purporting to insulate you against your own negligence in Sections 3 and 4 is fairly risky and you may want… . . . read more.

CONSUMER FRAUD

Warn your patients not to fall for COVID-19 scams

Pharma companies, diagnostics manufacturers, labs and other parts of the healthcare industry have done a commendable job in pivoting in response to the current public health crisis. Sadly, it seems that you can say the very same thing can also be said about the scammers. On Nov. 23, the OIG issued a new alert warning the public about fraud schemes related to COVID-19. The face of COVID-19 fraud The OIG says that scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to collect personal medical information of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to commit identity theft and fraudulently bill federal health care programs. And if Medicare or Medicaid denies the claim for an unapproved test billed, the beneficiary could also end up being responsible for the cost. OIG describes the different methods… . . . read more.


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