Typically, a consultant is brought into a urology practice for a particular project such as conducting an operational assessment, but just as importantly, once the consultant has gained this familiarity with the practice, he/she makes a great mentor.
The manager of a urology practice has tremendous responsibility and influence over the practice’s business operations and financial success. The constant changes mandated by government and health care reform and understanding how these factors affect the practice place additional responsibility upon practice administrators and managers. Sometimes a manager can, quite frankly, feel overwhelmed. Urologists can play an integral role in providing much-needed support for managers during these challenging times, while taking important steps to keep the practice grounded even when the earth seems to quake.
How can you do this? Give your practice a check-up. If you have a professional business adviser, such as practice management consultant, he/she can provide an objective assessment of the practice’s performance and explore ways the practice can build on its strengths. If you have not worked with a consultant in the past, now would be a good time to do so. Perhaps your practice accountant can recommend a health care management consultant. The consultant can then become the personal mentor and coach for the manager and work with him/her to develop a roadmap for the future.
Typically, a consultant is brought into a urology practice for a particular project such as conducting an operational assessment, but just as important, once the consultant has gained this familiarity with the practice, he/she makes a great mentor. The consultant will provide important guidance and support for the manager, identify opportunities to expand on what you are already doing right, and help ward off potential problems.
Recognize opportunities in reform
The consultant can be a great coach, encouraging managers to recognize that although health care reform brings some unwelcome changes, it also brings incredible opportunities. For example, practices that have met the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ criteria for meaningful use are already seeing the financial benefit of additional reimbursement from Medicare, which will increase even more in future years. In addition, the National Committee for Quality Assurance recently developed a program that recognizes qualifying practices as “patient-centered specialty practices (PCSP).” This designation does not currently offer the enhanced reimbursement that is received by primary care practices that are recognized as patient-centered medical homes. Instead, the PCSP recognition will likely provide future benefits for urologists, perhaps helping connect the practice with an accountable care organization, attract opportunities to negotiate with patient-centered health plans (resulting in payment incentives from those health plans), or simply give you an edge against the competition.
The emphasis on being patient centered is just one aspect of a very complex and convoluted health care reform landscape. So how can a urology practice administrator or manager possibly be expected to keep on top of this and so many other mandated regulatory changes? Perhaps you expect too much when he/she has to manage day-to-day operations, resolve staff problems, and analyze practice finances.
If you already have a relationship with a practice consultant, you have someone you can call on to guide the physicians, keep you abreast of pending strategic changes that need to be addressed, and provide critical support for the team’s manager. The consultant makes an excellent coach and mentor and arms your entire urology practice with a complimentary skill set and important business acumen.
Consultants have many potential uses
A consultant should not be thought of as someone who is simply called in for a specific project and never returns. The consultant can be called upon to advise the practice on emerging business problems, prepare and deliver annual summary benchmarking reports, conduct a leadership retreat, develop a strategic plan, help evaluate your service mix, and determine the value of adding new services.
Consider the consultant your “on-call” adviser-someone who will work closely with the entire management team and provide tools to resolve emerging issues and meet the anticipated challenges of health care reform.
Consultants are dedicated to staying on top of new regulatory requirements and follow health care reform’s initiatives closely. The urology administrator or manager gains fresh insight and outside industry information when he/she is working with a consultant who lives in the trenches of reform, has a clear understanding of the challenges a urology practice faces, and knows what it takes to be a top-performing urology practice.UT