Practice management: The tie that binds

By: Annie Hayashi

By Annie Hayashi

First vice president announces new initiative
When Joseph D. Zuckerman, MD, was asked to become second vice president of AAOS, he had been out of a leadership position for only 2 years. But he soon realized just how much the organization had changed during that short time period—“new programs, new issues, reordered priorities—not in just one or two areas, but in all of our key areas of education, advocacy, research, and communication.”

As first vice president, he plans to continue with that tradition of dynamic change.

Joseph D. Zuckerman, MD

Focus: Practice management
Dr. Zuckerman’s priorities focus on practice management initiatives because, regardless of whether an orthopaedic surgeon is in an academic setting, a solo practice, or a large, multispecialty group, managing a practice is the “tie that binds” all orthopaedic surgeons.

“We can all benefit from improved methods to manage our practices,” he told the near-capacity audience during the Ceremonial Meeting yesterday. “Reducing expenses, increasing revenues, improving productivity, and responding to new requirements by insurers are issues that all practices face.”

Asking the audience members to think about their own practices, he posed this question: “What do you talk about?” In the final analysis, he suggested that his colleagues discuss their patients, but conversations about managing their practices take an increasing amount of their time “as reimbursement decreases and operating expenses increase.”

AAOS as the “go to” resource
Dr. Zuckerman acknowledged that Academy members have expressed a greater need for practice management knowledge and skills. “The good news is that over the past several years, the AAOS has allocated significant resources to the development of our practice management program. Our goal is to establish the AAOS as the ‘go to’ resource for our members for practice management,” he stated.

Some of the practice management resources he highlighted included the Practice Management Committee chaired by Stephen P. Makk, MD, MBA, and the two full-time staff in the AAOS headquarters who have extensive orthopaedic practice management experience.

“A full-thickness initiative”
Dr. Zuckerman outlined the following practice management programs that are a direct result of the efforts of the Practice Management Committee and staff:

  • An online practice management center with more than 120 articles and monographs on a host of topics
  • At least 8 pages in every issue of AAOS Now on practice management topics
  • One-on-one practice management support services for members

In addition, more than 1,000 Academy members, including 250 at this meeting, have attended continuing medical education (CME) courses on practice management. AAOS has also produced primers on Electronic Medical Records and Office Picture Archiving and Communication Systems to “help you incorporate these modalities into your practice.”

A highly successful group purchasing program, celebrating its first anniversary, enabled more than 220 practices to save substantially on office and medical supplies. “These savings go directly to your bottom line,” said Dr. Zuckerman.

In discussing the audio programs, Practice Management Consults, Dr. Zuckerman envisioned a day when “You can go to iTunes and listen to the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Bon Jovi, and David A. Halsey, MD. Now that’s a tough choice!” he added.

On the horizon
Dr. Zuckerman challenged his colleagues to take the practice management self-assessment examination. “It was an eye-opening experience for me, but I will tell you, it was a heck of a lot more fun than taking the Orthopaedics In-Training Exam (OITE) or the recertification exam.”

New programs on practice management will include a “Practice Advisor Data Base” that will provide a link to firms providing orthopaedic practice management expertise, practice management CME courses that can be presented at regional orthopaedic association meetings, evening lectures on practice management in conjunction with courses at the Orthopaedic Learning Center, and an affinity program “to provide options for reduced-rate life insurance and disability insurance.”

“Consider the potential,” he said. “If a group can improve their revenue and expense ratio by only 1%, those funds could help enhance how we care for our patients, our families and our other passions. Your Academy is here to help each and every one of us.”