I was lucky enough to present at the latest American Academy of Orthopedic Executives (AAOE) conference. Just as the Orthopedics Today Hawaii conference provides physicians with a great opportunity to hear what colleagues are trying, the AAOE conference allows orthopedic administrators to learn about trends, compare notes and brainstorm. If your administrator has not been attending AAOE, you may want to encourage him or her to consider it.
At this years conference, I heard about an interesting alliance a large insurer had approached independent orthopedic groups asking how the insurer could help the physicians preserve their independence. The insurance company was concerned that the current wave of integration would give a few large hospital systems too much clout in negotiations. As a result, the insurer is open to ideas, including increasing reimbursement to physicians, as a means to keep the physicians independent. In essence, the insurer approached physicians to ask how can we help?
I don't know that insurers around the country will be rushing to offer to increase your reimbursement, but the current rapid change in the industry means that you may have new opportunities to convert former adversaries into partners. Whether it is merging with the group across town (see an earlier blog discussing divisional mergers here) alliances with hospitals that have previously not been physician friendly or getting help from insurers that have been slashing reimbursement, this is a great opportunity to wipe the slate clean and explore new relationships.
If you value your independence and autonomy, this is a great time to consider what will help you keep it. Make a list. Whether it is providing more ancillaries, increased reimbursement, serving a larger catchment area or lowering your overhead, develop a list. While brainstorming, dont worry about the possible barriers; keep an open mind. Then, once you have the list, consider whether some ideas that you might have previously dismissed might now be possible. If insurers are actively offering increased reimbursement, you never know what else might be possible.
If you have some thoughts about this issue, please post them as comments. If you prefer to remain anonymous, please send me an email at email@example.com, and I will include the idea in a later post.
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