Who "owns" the patients? The rules on copays; Customize a schedule for a star worker; Would the IRS frown on this phone listing?
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Q:I'm leaving the family practice that I joined three years ago. When I came on board, I brought about 300 patients with me. May I "sell" these patients to the practice as part of my exit package? If not, what sort of compensation would be reasonable?
A: The answer should be spelled out in the contract you signed when you joined the practice. One consultant said that you could expect about $60 per patient record. But others cautioned that many groups don't pay exiting physicians for the patients they brought to the practice.
Q: What should I say if a patient asks me not to charge a copayment?
A: Tell her the truth: that you are required by law to do so. If the patient can't pay at the time of service, resort to your normal collection procedures. If she fails to settle the account, write off the amount as bad debt.
Q: Our salaried nurse practitioner is having child care problems that have made it difficult for her to maintain her contracted work schedule. Obviously, this disrupts patient care. But our doctors, staff, and patients adore her, so we don't want to lose her. What should we do?
A: Take her off salary and pay her for working hourly shifts that she and the practice agree to.
Q: Our six-doctor practice uses its corporate name on our stationery and Yellow Pages listing. Could each partner also have an individual listing in the phone book without jeopardizing our corporate status in the IRS' eyes?
A: Sure, as long as the individual listings are in addition to the corporate listing.
Do you have a practice management question that may be stumping other doctors, too? Write: PMQA Editor, Medical Economics magazine, 5 Paragon Drive, Montvale, NJ 07645-1742, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (please include your regular postal address). Sorry, but we're not able to answer readers individually.
Kristie Perry. Practice Management. Medical Economics Jun. 20, 2003;80:82.