Memo from the Editor: Size doesn't matter

May 9, 2003

Our cover story this issue is about going into solo practice.

 

Memo From The Editor

Size doesn't matter

Marianne Dekker Mattera

Our cover story this issue is about going into solo practice. It looks at how four doctors have abandoned groups of various sizes and found a fulfilling life in medicine on their own or, in the case of one of our four, with one other physician. It's a path an increasing number of physicians are taking—for a number of reasons.

Those doctors will look to us for the kind of help we've been providing for 80 years—good solid practice management information that will help them run a successful business. In this issue alone, they'll find coding tips, a HIPAA update, advice on how to negotiate an office lease and how to organize a billing operation to optimize collections, a piece on what to do when an insurer denies coverage, and a clip-and-copy letter to patients that tells them how to appeal that insurance denial. There's also our every-issue Practice Management Q&A column.

But guess what: Medical Economics isn't just for solo docs. I've heard the argument from time to time that doctors in groups don't need to read about practice management and finance because they're only employees with no stake in the management of the practice. Or because they have a practice administrator or senior partner who handles all that stuff. Or because they joined a group so they could concentrate on patient care and not have to worry about business.

The thing is, though, if you're in a group—large or small—and you don't understand the business of medicine, there's a good chance that you may be missing the opportunity to deliver better care to more patients. Or that the business administrator or senior partner will make a decision that's best for him or her, with little regard for its effect on your practice style or your wallet. Or that you'll be doomed to employee status forever.

Granted, you may not take an active role in the day-to-day running of the practice, but you have to know enough to have input on the issues that affect your day-to-day practice life. That includes staffing issues, personnel policies, billing and coding, scheduling issues. You've got to keep up to date on the latest changes in Medicare reimbursement, health plan credentialing, government regulations, and office technology. Otherwise, you're in danger of working in a practice that doesn't live up to its potential, and you won't be able to live up to yours.

If you're in a group and you think there are areas of practice management that you'd like to know about but we aren't covering, we invite you to drop us a line and let us know what those are. But we also urge you to read some of those articles you think don't apply to you. You may be pleasantly surprised to see that they're helpful for doctors in all practices—solo, partnership, small group, big group. That's because when it comes to the basics of good business, size doesn't matter.

 

Marianne Mattera. Memo from the Editor: Size doesn't matter. Medical Economics May 9, 2003;80:9.