Now your doctor’s practice can receive a business checkup, thanks to a new grant awarded to the Texas Medical Association (TMA).
People know physicians as healers, but the majority – nearly three-quarters of Texas’ medical practices – are small businesses, too. Yet physicians do not receive formal business training.
So doctors need help. Two-thirds of Texas physicians report having trouble covering payroll and other practice expenses because of difficulties in collecting timely or adequate payment from insurers and government payers. About one-third of Texas physicians are solo practitioners, while another 38 percent are in small groups of two to six physicians.
Navigating the financial challenges in this era of change in health care regulation can tax even the
most knowledgeable business mind, let alone someone who spent nights and weekends in medical school learning how to diagnose and treat illness instead of a business’ bottom line.
“If a physician’s practice is not healthy, he can’t effectively help patients,” said Carl O. Trusler, MD, chair of TMA’s Council on Practice Management Services.
So TMA created a solution. TMA’s Practice Consulting division will offer physicians a new program to better manage their medical practice, to help patients and measure how well they are doing. The TMA program’s four-pronged approach will:
- Create a continuing medical education-accredited primer on financial management for physician offices of all sizes and types,
- Provide a medical practice dashboard tool, featuring easy-to-read snapshots of performance measures and benchmarks most important to a practice’s success,
- Develop webinars and seminars to teach doctors how to make practice improvements based on practice performance measures, and
- Consult with medical practices requiring more extensive assistance including on-site training – for those who need extra help.
The Physicians Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that helps practicing physicians thrive and care for patients, is funding TMA’s new program through a $100,000 grant.
“This program will help physicians maintain financially and operationally viable practices – something they’re not necessarily trained to do in medical school or residency,” said Bridget McPhillips, TMA vice president of Membership and Business Development. “
The program will target newly licensed physicians and medical residents in Texas’ rural and underserved areas, although any physician (even those outside Texas) can benefit.
The Physicians Foundation has awarded other grants to TMA in the past. In 2006, the foundation awarded a $1 million grant to TMA to help more physicians adopt health information technology (HIT) in their practices. TMA surveys have charted doctors’ HIT adoption growth from 27 percent in 2005 to 60 percent now. TMA received subsequent grants to revise its popular Electronic Medical Record Implementation Guide for national distribution and to assist physicians with meaningful use EHR incentive requirements.
“TMA wants to help physicians because, in the end, if your doctor can’t survive as a business, she’s not there to serve your needs as a patient,” Dr. Trusler added.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing nearly 46,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 120 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.