Published 11/1/2008
Thomas J. Grogan, MD

You can’t afford to miss this opportunity

Why attend the Practice Management Symposium for Practicing Orthopaedic Surgeons?

I have been in solo practice for more than 20 years. I spent years learning, developing, and honing the skills necessary to provide outstanding orthopaedic care to my patients.

Like every other AAOS fellow, I am under constant attack by a third-party “army” of insurers, adjusters, and the U.S. government (Medicare/Medicaid), whose sole mission seems to be finding ways to pay me less for the work I do. My patients are being forced to pay more out of pocket through ever-increasing deductibles and co-payments. It may be a “win” when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services backs off on a further cut to Medicare reimbursement, but my office overhead seems to go up every year.

Give up a day for what?
I pay overhead (about $1,000 per day) every day, whether I am in the office or not. In addition, for every day I do not work, I lose billable services of about $5,000 per day. My days off are few and far between—and when they happen, I would rather spend time with my family than hang around with a bunch of disgruntled doctors. So why would I—or you, for that matter—fly to the 2009 Annual Meeting in Las Vegas a day early to attend a one-day course titled “Practice Management for the Practicing Orthopaedic Surgeon”?

The answer is simple: We may not be able to afford “not to” much longer. The business of orthopaedics is not as easy as in the past. We need tools, information, and practical case examples that we can implement to improve the financial health of our practices. We need to understand how to manage costs and still provide excellent care to our patients. We need to learn how to measure our own cost-effectiveness, determine where we can implement change, and then measure the impact of those changes to see how much better off we are.

In my solo practice, I need to understand exactly what it costs me to see a patient and how I can measure this cost. How much revenue do I produce per relative value unit of work? How can I use that information to select which, if any, contracts I will sign? How will this affect my reportable income? How can I implement cost-reduction strategies to lower my overhead without adversely affecting my patients or myself?

We need to learn these lessons for ourselves because it is our practice and our future. We need to resist the urge to delegate such important information to someone who may not have our ultimate best interests at heart.

In my opinion, the AAOS exists to inform us, educate us, and advocate for us. Attending the Practice Management Symposium for Practicing Orthopaedic Surgeons is one thing we need to do for ourselves. If you care about your patients, your practice, or your income, attending this symposium should be a priority.

Register today!
The Practice Management Symposium for Practicing Orthopaedic Surgeons takes place on Tuesday, Feb. 24, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. This year’s event focuses on techniques for maximizing revenues and strategies for improving office operational efficiency.

The fee for AAOS members and nonphysician orthopaedic practice executives is $390 per person. Administrators will also need to register for the 2009 Annual Meeting and pay the appropriate fee. For more information and to register, visit the AAOS Annual Meeting Web site (http://www.aaos.org/am2009) and click on “2009 Other Educational Programs.”

Thomas J. Grogan, MD, is co-director of the 2009 Practice Management Symposium for Orthopaedic Surgeons and a member of the Practice Management Committee.