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Published 5/1/2008
Stephen P. Makk, MD, MBA; Steven E. Fisher, MBA

What’s up with practice management?

According to Joseph D. Zuckerman, MD, AAOS first vice president, practice management support from the AAOS will be the “next best thing” and the focus of his term in office. He’s already taking steps to meet that goal. Practice management support from the AAOS is good and getting better.

Online support
The online Practice Management Center (
www.aaos.org/pracman) now contains more than 150 articles and white papers on practice management–related topics. Whether you want to know “How best to utilize physician extenders” or are looking for “Tips for effectively marketing your practice,” you can find valuable information online. Be sure to check out the Question of the Month and the Advice Center.

You’ll also find primers on “Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)” and “Picture Archive and Communication Systems (PACS)” available for downloading at no charge. A third primer, scheduled for publication in 2009, will focus on “Effective Personnel Management.”

Learning opportunities
The annual Symposium for Practicing Orthopaedic Surgeons, held the day before the Annual Meeting commences, continues to receive excellent reviews. Every year, the symposium is different; up to half of the topics and speakers are new.

Each fall, the “Building Essential Skills (BES) for a Successful Practice” builds and expands on information provided to attendees of the practice management symposium. The third BES course will be held Oct. 17-19, 2008, in Washington, D.C. Presenters include orthopaedic surgeons, practice executives, and outside consultants.

The annual Residents’ Symposium is a complimentary half-day program on practice management designed specifically for orthopaedic residents. Practical information on the legal and business aspects of orthopaedics is provided. In conjunction with the symposium, AAOS is now offering a 2-hour Basics of Coding course.

Practice Management Consults, a series of audio-programs on practice management topics, are available in both CD-ROM and podcast formats. Moderated by David A. Halsey, MD, the consults include physicians, practice executives, advisors, and expert consultants discussing topics such as pay-for-performance, managing liability risk, holding the line on overhead, and digital radiography.

Members of the Practice Management Committee (PMC) have served as moderators and directors for Annual Meeting Symposia and Instructional Course Lectures on topics such as “The totally electronic office: Optimal solutions,” “Stark: The law, the exceptions and how to make it work,” and “Implementation of electronic medical records in orthopaedic practices.” Additional courses are in the planning stages for the 2009 Annual Meeting.

The Practice Management Self-assessment Examination—100 multiple-choice questions covering all aspects of practice management—is available in hard-copy and on-line formats.

Member benefits
In January 2007, AAOS rolled out a Group Purchasing Program for orthopaedic surgeons, powered by Esurg Corporation, a unit of Henry Schein, Inc., the largest distributor of supplies to physicians’ offices nationwide. Under the program, AAOS members can save 15 percent or more on a large array of medical/surgical, pharmaceutical, and office products.

The response has been very favorable, with participation exceeding expectations. Even if you continue purchasing some items from existing distributors, you may benefit from lower prices due to the competition from Esurg.

New initiatives
In March, the AAOS Board of Directors approved two new initiatives, as well as a request for additional staffing in the practice management group.

The Orthopaedic Practice Database will be a compendium of information on orthopaedic practices, linked to the Academy’s database of individual orthopaedists. This will facilitate research on the educational needs of physicians who practice in different-sized offices. It will also enable the Academy to tailor practice management-related programs, products, and services by practice setting.

The Practice Advisor Database will consist of a roster of firms that provide consulting, legal, accounting, and other advisory services to orthopaedic surgeons. To be listed, firms must pay a nominal fee and provide three letters of reference from satisfied AAOS members who have used their services. The database will be searchable by multiple criteria, including the firms’ service offerings, location, and ownership (such as minority or female).

The following additional new practice management initiatives will be implemented in the future:

  • An agreement with the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) to purchase and resell selected MGMA texts to AAOS members at discounted prices
  • The introduction of mini-practice management courses that will be offered on the evening before surgical skills courses
  • The development of regional practice management courses
  • to be held before regional orthopaedic association meetings
  • A technology boot-camp to help AAOS members implement and use technologies such as EMR and PAC systems in their offices, with hands-on learning
  • The introduction of additional affinity programs, such as disability and life insurance, for Academy members
  • A multimedia program to help orthopaedists navigate their careers from initial practice selection to retirement planning and more

This is just the beginning. The AAOS will quickly become the “go-to” resource for orthopaedic practice management information and assistance. The Academy already has a head start, with two staff who have extensive experience in orthopaedic practice management. During 2007, under the oversight of the PMC, AAOS staff provided one-on-one member support, responding to more than 200 questions on subjects ranging from the Stark III regulations through the logistics of buy-outs and buy-ins, to payment for on-call coverage.

With today’s economics, taking advantage of the practice management opportunities available through the AAOS only makes sense.

Stephen P. Makk, MD, MBA, chair of the AAOS Practice Management Committee, can be reached at (502) 897-6579 or smakk@lbjs.net

Steven E. Fisher, MBA, manager of the AAOS practice management group, can be reached at (847) 384-4331 or sfisher@aaos.org

Who’s behind it all?
The Practice Management Committee oversees AAOS practice management initiatives. The committee reflects varied practice settings of AAOS members, with solo practices, small private practice groups, large private practice groups, academic groups, and practice executives all represented. The practice executive is always a member of the American Association of Orthopaedic Executives (AAOE), formerly the BONES Society. Current members are:

Stephen P. Makk, MD, MBA


Robert H. Blotter, MD
small group


Aleksandar Curcin, MD


Michael Q. Freehill, MD
LFP participant


Thomas J. Grogan, MD
solo practice


Jon Michael Maxwell, MD
solo practice


Emmett T. McEleney, MD
LFP participant


Frank A. Pettrone, MD
large group


Charles E. Rhoades, MD
large group


Thomas E. Wolfe, FACMPE
practice executive


Adolph J. Yates Jr., MD
academic practice


Michele M. Zembo, MD, MBA
academic practice


Steven E. Fisher, MBA
staff liaison