October 2001 Bulletin

AAOS online Practice Management Center to help members be efficient, effective

We all know that medicine is a lifelong learning experience. What we have found in the last decade or so is that the learning experience should not be confined to medical diagnoses and treatments, but should include the skills of managing our practices.

The primary mission of the AAOS is to provide the members with the educational services they need to provide quality musculoskeletal care. When managed care began to exert a profound influence on how we practice and care for our patients, the AAOS added a new dimension to our education programs to help members learn new skills—how to formulate business plans, analyze and negotiate contracts, and more.

The AAOS provided assistance on practice management issues in nationwide conferences, Annual Meeting Instructional Lecture courses, books, Bulletin articles, CD-ROMs, audiotapes, Advisory Statements and Health Policy Alerts.

As reimbursements continue to decline and expenses increase, it is imperative that we learn how to manage our practices like cost efficient and effective businesses. Starting this month, AAOS will greatly expand its efforts in providing assistance and education on practice management information that you can read and download from our home page. We will launch the Practice Management Center in the Orthopaedic Campus located in the Medical Education section of our home page at www.aaos.org.

The AAOS marketing department conducted focus group sessions and surveys of orthopaedists and members of the BONES Society, the national organization of orthopaedic practice administrators, and found a strong desire for information on practice management issues.

There is a strong interest in billing and reimbursement, customer service, staff relations and hiring and interviewing. Orthopaedists and practice administrators also want benchmarking information, orthopaedic-specific document templates online, and a directory of contacts for practice management professional services.

The Practice Management Center will include content for the young orthopaedic surgeon just getting started and the established orthopaedist who needs tools and resources for everyday practice. Alan Morris, MD, chairman of the Council on Health Policy, told the Board of Directors meeting on Sept. 8, 2001 that the first item in the Practice Management Center will be an online version of an AAOS book, "Practice Management for the Young Orthopaedic Surgeon." Some of the topics are choosing a practice, guide to traditional solo and group practices, legal and contractual issues and personal finance.

Dr. Morris said that as the Practice Management Center evolves the content will include templates and other resources on compliance plans, patient history/examination forms and surgery consent forms. Documents also will include patient satisfaction information; staff employment contracts, policies and procedures; consultation requests; and telephone logs. The Practice Management Center will include a bibliography of practice management-related publications and other resources, including links to helpful web sites.

Once the Practice Management Center is up and running we will create a directory of practice management products and services. The directory would include how to select practice management consultants, products and services; a list of individuals and practice management consultants and companies that provide information about related products and services; and more.

Staff in the health policy department is working with the CPT and ICD Coding Committee to identify the most frequently asked coding questions and answers to be placed in the Practice Management Center.

A project team has been formed to determine how a CPT coding assistance service could be developed and provided to AAOS members and their staff. Also, a staff team is developing a practice-based membership database that would make it possible to collect information on orthopaedic practice characteristics and operations. The information would be published in the Practice Management Center and could be used by orthopaedics to "benchmark" or compare their practices to other practices and identify problems with their business operations.

The Practice Management Center is an outgrowth of the planning for "The AAOS in 2005." The initiative is designed to reshape and streamline the AAOS to function efficiently and effectively. Research conducted in preparation for the 2005 initiative showed practice management is one of the three most important areas of interest and concern among orthopaedists. Led by David Halsey, MD, then chair-elect of the Board of Councilors, a 2005 practice management project team, working with the health policy and marketing departments, launched a thorough investigation of the specific practice management services and needs of orthopaedists and practice managers.

Dr. Halsey’s objective is to build the definitive core knowledge and to have the AAOS become the definitive resource in practice manangement.

Richard H Gelberman, MD

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