Published 12/1/2007
Steven E. Fisher, MBA

Real world tips for a more successful practice

Symposium serves up healthy slice of business acumen

Conventional wisdom once held that the three “As”—ability, affability, and availability—were enough to guarantee a successful medical practice. But with decreasing reimbursements, rising operational costs, increasing regulations, and the constant threat of litigation, three other letters—MBA (Masters in Business Administration)—may be just as important today. According to the most recent AAOS census, however, less than 1 percent of AAOS members have that MBA degree.

As many orthopaedic surgeons have discovered, working harder is not a long-term solution; working smarter is. But to work smarter, you need to develop and apply basic business management skills, the same kind of skills business students learn. If you don’t have time to stop practicing and return to school—and most orthopaedists don’t—you can still improve your practice management skills, using the educational resources offered by the AAOS. (See “Targeted learning” below.)

Practice management for practicing physicians
AAOS-sponsored courses are a great way to learn about several areas of practice management in one sitting. If you haven’t already signed up, consider attending the Practice Management Symposium for Practicing Orthopaedic Surgeons, scheduled for March 4, 2008, immediately prior to the 75th Annual Meeting in San Francisco. You’ll immediately be able to apply the information presented to improve your bottom line.

Under course director David Teuscher, MD, the symposium will provide ways to maximize your office’s revenue potential and optimize its operational efficiency. Here’s a sample of what to expect.

In the morning session, David A. Halsey, MD, will discuss offering additional services through your practice, such as durable medical equipment, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scanning for osteoporosis, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), including extremity MRIs, and physical and/or occupational therapies.

Stephen P. Makk, MD, MBA, and Michael Q. Freehill, MD, will discuss the benefits of adding medical orthopaedists, physiatrists, and rheumatologists to your practice. They will also cover the use of allied health professionals, such as registered nurses, physician assistants, and athletic trainers. Karen Zupko will repeat her top-ranked presentation from 2007 on ensuring that your practice receives payment from payors and patients for services provided. And finally, Frank A. Pettrone, MD, will present strategies for effective marketing, including practice promotion via the Internet.

Learn while lunching
Kimberly J. Templeton, MD,
will give a brief presentation on the Bone and Joint Decade, and David Lovett, JD, of the AAOS office of government relations in Washington, D.C., will discuss election year issues and challenges during the luncheon.

The afternoon session will begin with a review of financial statements and budgeting, presented by William R. Creevy, MD. Discover the pros and cons of outsourcing and other techniques to effectively manage personnel from Patricia Brewster and David Demchuk, two talented practice managers. Rosemarie Nelson will provide a framework for evaluating and selecting electronic medical record systems. And finally, find out how alterations to physical facilities can make huge differences in both productivity and ergonomics from Richard Haines, a renowned orthopaedic office architect.

Bring your staff
The Practice Management Symposium will be of value to both orthopaedic surgeons and their practice managers and senior administrative staff. In previous years, the event has been a virtual sell-out, so early sign-up is encouraged. Register for the symposium online through the AAOS Annual Meeting Web site,

To sign up for the Symposium, you must also register for the Annual Meeting. The fee for AAOS members and their administrative staff to attend the Symposium is $420 per person ($520 per person for nonmembers, in addition to the meeting registration fee).

For more information on the Practice Management Symposium for Practicing Orthopaedic Surgeons, contact Steven E. Fisher, MBA, at sfisher@aaos.org or (847) 384-4331, or Marty Krawczyk at krawczyk@aaos.org or (847) 384-4337.

Targeted learning
Given the busy schedules (and unpredictable workdays and nights) of most orthopaedic surgeons, getting an education in practice management skills depends on the effective use of specific (and flexible) resources. The AAOS has multiple resources available, depending on your specific needs and learning style.

The on-line Practice Management Center and AAOS Now articles can help when you have a focused question or problem. Using the search feature of the AAOS Web site can direct you to articles that address your question, such as what you need to do to comply with the Privacy Regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). You can access the Practice Management Center directly at www.aaos.org/pracman

Audio-courses can conveniently fit your schedule because you can listen to them at any time. AAOS audio-courses provide important information on general topics, such as strategies for managing professional liability risk. More information on the AAOS Practice Management Consults programs (which are available on CD or as MP3 pod-casts) is available at www.aaos.org/pmc

The AAOS Practice Management Self-Assessment Examination (SAE) gives you the opportunity to assess your knowledge on specific practice management areas. Featuring 100 multiple-choice questions and offering up to 10 AMA PRA Category 1 CME credits, the exam covers 13 different topic areas—from coding and reimbursement to financial and personnel management, as well as compliance issues, practice governance, liability management, facility management, and medical ethics—and explains why one answer is preferable to the others. References for further study are also supplied. The AAOS Practice Management SAE is available at www3.aaos.org/education