1. Increase market leverage and activism. As national healthcare and practice-level expenses, such as salaries, benefits and malpractice insurance, are skyrocketing, Mr. Steen said large specialty physician groups need to be involved at every level — local, state and national — to make sure their concerns are heard. "If you're at the table, you have a better chance to navigate the process and have some input into the decision process," he said.
2. Retain and recruit. Mr. Steen said dollars are starting to be rerouted from specialists to primary care physicians, so it becomes paramount for a large physician group to not only retain its talented physicians, but also recruit the younger ones who are just entering the workforce.
3. Embrace and respect technology, or get left behind. Paper charts are turning into a thing of the past, and large specialty physician groups need to have solid health IT infrastructure, Mr. Steen said. This is especially important when choosing an electronic medical record vendor. What vendor a group hires is critical because a group wants an EMR vendor that can adapt to change and is "in it for the long run."
4. Minimize quality and image risks at all staff levels. Mr. Steen said it's very easy to look the other way when a physician who is lucrative to the practice is posing a significant risk in coding, quality, public relations or another facet. However, large specialty physician groups need to take off their blinders and make sure risks are kept to a minimum from all parties. "It's a small medical community no matter how big the city is," Mr. Steen said. "One physician, caregiver or employee can ruin an entire group's reputation."
5. Market your practice, and monitor its marketability. Large specialty physician groups need to market their practice and then understand what the market's perception of them is, Mr. Steen said. If the market has a negative perception of a practice — perhaps patients are providing disapproving reviews — the practice must be proactive to instill a positive perception through social media and outreach with hospital systems, physicians' lounges and other outlets.
6. Plan for the change of "entitlement" to "accountability." Whether accountable care organizations take shape or not, Mr. Steen said large specialty physician groups must hold their physicians accountable for quality, compliance, coding and patient satisfaction — and make sure they are on board with the new initiatives.
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