AAOS Bulletin - August, 2006

Academy increases emphasis on practice management education

New course focuses on building skills for success

By Howard Mevis

An orthopaedic practice is a small business, and an orthopaedic surgeon must be both a skilled medical practitioner and an effective business owner to be successful. But while residency programs do a great job of teaching surgical skills, they aren’t so proficient at instilling the skills needed to build a successful business. All too often, orthopaedic surgeons must learn about financial management, strategic planning and practice governance “on the fly.”

It’s no wonder, then, that an AAOS member needs assessment survey found high interest in practice management information and education. To meet this need, the Academy has developed an action plan that calls for several new continuing medical education (CME) programs, including an audio “podcast” series, a self-assessment examination and a new practice management course.

The first step

The first “Orthopaedic Practice Management: Building Essential Skills for a Successful Practice” course will be held October 13–15 , 2006, in Chicago. Recognizing that a single course—even one as long as two or three days—would not provide sufficient time to present a comprehensive program, the Academy is committed to expanding practice management course opportunities in the future as part of the annual CME calendar.

In reviewing the data and approving the course concept, Edward Akelman, MD, chair of the CME Courses Committee, noted, “The survey data indicates Academy members recognize that they need to manage the business aspects of practice on a proactive basis. The CME Courses Committee agreed that we need to do more than provide targeted programs in one or two practice management subject areas. The action plan’s curriculum covers the breadth and depth of content that our colleagues need.”

Kevin J. Bozic, MD, MBA, and David A. Halsey, MD, planned and organized the first course. To help members build essential skills in practice management, the course focuses on both financial and organizational issues that represent the foundation of what orthopaedic surgeons need to know as well as focused subjects such as political advocacy.

How to decipher financial statements, how to use technology to improve efficiency and enhance revenues and how to maximize revenues by employing revenue-generating personnel and providing ancillary services are among the topics covered in the course. Organizational strategies, compensation/income distribution strategies, and billing and collections management are also included.

“All of us have a great deal of catching up to do when it comes to understanding how to lead our practices and ensure success,” said Dr. Bozic. “In designing the program, I decided early on to have orthopaedic surgeons as the primary faculty. Too many times, I have heard talks from consultants that lacked specifics.”

Orthopaedic surgeons and their practice managers are encouraged to attend together. The first-year program provides a wealth of information that cannot be found in any place other than a concentrated setting like a CME course. Primary topics include practice governance, patient service expansion, financial management and organizational strategy. There will also be sessions on health policy and technology.

Future programs

The new Practice Management Committee, chaired by Stephen Makk, MD, will collaborate with the CME Courses Committee in planning future programs. The committee will also coordinate the Academy’s activities in practice management and other educational programs. Additional components of the practice management educational initiative include:

• The Annual Meeting Practice Management Symposium, scheduled for February 13, 2007 in San Diego

• Practice Management Consults, a new audio “podcast” series (see related article)

• A self-assessment examination that will be introduced in January of 2008

In addition, the committee will develop education and information

materials for the online Practice Management Center.

“Orthopaedic surgeons are providing patient care in an environment that changes just about every day,” said AAOS President Richard F. Kyle, MD, speaking in support of the program. “We need to learn new skills in strategic planning and goal setting to position our practices for success. We need a better understanding of the day-to-day management of our practices, and must recognize that we are both businesspeople and health care providers. The Academy’s practice management initiative is designed to help members succeed on both fronts.”

To register or obtain more information about the CME course, “Orthopaedic Practice Management: Building Essential Skills for a Successful Practice,” contact AAOS customer service at (800) 626-6726 or visit www.aaos.org/courses

Howard Mevis is director of the AAOS department of electronic media, evaluation and course operations. He can be reached at mevis@aaos.org

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