U.S. Physician Salaries Snapshot

As mentioned in a previous post, the demand for U.S. physicians is escalating.  Consequently, the salaries are increasing for many physicians and healthcare professionals.  A recent study by Health eCareers confirms this trend.  The study garnered responses from nearly 20,000 healthcare workers — including 1,710 physicians — across the United States.  The survey notes that the average annual salary for physicians is $255,648, with physicians in southern states making much less than those in other parts of the country.  Cardiologists topped the survey with salaries averaging $355,628 a year.  Surgeons came in second with an average annual salary of $288,588 and OBGYNs ranked third at $241,197 per year.  Family medicine brought up the rear with an average annual salary of $197,522.  Comparing 2016 to 2015, salaries for physician assistants increased 4.3% and salaries for nurse practitioners increased 5.3%.

The survey also queried satisfaction among the respondents and found that 34% of physicians were dissatisfied with their salary, compared to 32% of physician assistants and 30% of nurse practitioners.

Regarding physicians’ primary career concerns for 2017, the top three responses were:

  1. Low or no salary increase.
  2. Increased workload/patient load.
  3. Staff morale.

However, 80% of physicians reported feeling confident that they could find a favorable position should they decide to leave their current situation.

This last sentiment is undoubtedly the reflection of the physician shortage and thus the high demand for physicians throughout the United States.  The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projects a shortage of 90,000 physicians by 2025; that’s less than a decade out.  Of the 90,000 shortage, one-third are primary care physicians and two-thirds are specialists.  To see the physician shortage by state, check out the Workforce Data and Reports published by the AAMC.

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Contact ABISA for healthcare consultancy support or speaking engagements.

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Evaluating a Physician Partnership

Bringing in a physician partner has many advantages: A partner may help your practice grow and become more successful; partners allow you to share the workload and to combine skills with another provider; and you can enrich your practice by having a solid teammate. However, business partners can become your greatest asset or worst liability. Deciding whether or not to share your practice with someone else may be one of the most important business decisions you ever make. Deciding who you go into business with can be just as important.

There is no way to guarantee a potential partnership will work. Consequently, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of having a physician partner, and carefully analyzing the reasons for choosing a partner can help ensure that you find the right person to entrust with your practice. Identify what you really need from a physician partner before you start looking for one. Once you have completed this essential first step, you can begin the process of choosing a partner.

For starters, a physician partner should bring something different to the table than you do. If you’re creative, maybe you need a more detail-oriented partner. Or if you’re shy, you might need a good “people person” to balance the equation. If they’re similar to you, it might be more comfortable, but it may not be what you need. You need someone who complements your skills and personality.

Discuss your vision with your potential or current business partner. Evaluating a potential partner can be like trading life stories to understand if your business principles, company goals, and personalities are compatible. Take as much time as you need to make a well-informed assessment of whether your business partner is actually a suitable one. You should share a sense of vision and values but not have overlapping skills.

Assess the potential partner’s expectations on the time involved. Partners don’t have to spend the same amount of time, but it is important that they are on the same page as to each other’s expected time commitments. How many hours a day does your partner expect to put into the practice, and do his expectations meet yours? Your partner’s commitment has to equal yours. A partnership — especially one between friends — can start off with fun and excitement, but within a short time, the slog of every day catches up with you. If they’re not as committed to the business as you, they may lose their enthusiasm and may actually be damaging the brand every time you open your doors.

Try to evaluate potential partners without regard to emotional ties or friendship. Draw up a set of criteria that you’re looking for and simply judge how well a potential partner lives up to it. Your potential partner should also have questions for you and should want to know about your character, reliability, and expectations.

Of course you will want to weigh their standing in the referring physician community. A business partner who is adept at cultivating relationships with your referring physicians adds value to the practice. Also consider how they interact with employees and patients.

An attorney can help you build important information into such an agreement, such as how the work will be divided, what will happen if more startup money is needed, and how decisions will be reached. Although partnerships need to be written up, remember that people make partnerships work, not legal documents. And remember, the best time to address potential problems with your partner is at the beginning of your venture, before emotions run high. You can’t predict every potential problem, but a good healthcare attorney and consultant can help you work through some of the common problems and put a framework in place to help address unforeseen circumstances.

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Contact ABISA for healthcare consultancy support or speaking engagements.

Prerequisites for Strategic Planning

There are many different models and action steps for strategic planning.  Attempting to “jump right in”, however, is ill-advised.  Undertaking some basic pre-work will help to ensure better success for the strategic planning process.  Here are three perquisites for strategic planning:

  1.  Agree on a strategic planning process. You should provide an understanding of what strategic planning is and how it is done as well as discuss its potential value to the practice, in terms of providing a common vision and focus, with agreed-upon goals and strategies. Consider the costs of doing strategic planning, in terms of staff time and other resources – and what might need to be given up in order to develop a plan.  If the practice is in crisis or is financially or organizationally unstable, it may be difficult or unwise to enter into a strategic planning process until the immediate problems and needs have been successfully addressed.  Consider whether the practice is “ready” for a long-range plan or whether it may best focus on a short-term plan, perhaps doing a one-year plan and then undertaking longer-term planning at the end of that year.  If strategic planning seems appropriate, consider what procedures or steps can be used to establish and implement a strategic plan.  Next, agree upon a process and establish responsibilities for the various steps in the process.  Your practice may also want to include an outside facilitator or consultant who will assist with the process and with preparation of the strategic planning document – or this may be done by staff.  Be sure to allocate sufficient staff time to the strategic planning process.  Depending on the size of the practice, it may be necessary to reduce the regular workloads or responsibilities of staff and physicians who are expected to play a key role in developing the strategic plan.
  1. Carry out a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) in order to provide an understanding of how the practice relates to its patients, community, and competitors. Look at changing demographics, community values, economic trends, the implications of new or changing laws and regulations affecting the practice — and consider their impact on your practice and the patient population it serves. Consider opportunities and challenges related to practice resources and reimbursement.  Also, look at actual and potential collaborators and competitors.  Depending on the size of your catchment area, this process may involve something as extensive as a community needs assessment with interviews, focus groups, and e-mail surveys that is conducted by a consultant, or may be limited to a small number of informal discussions with referring physicians and key community leaders.  The internal component of the analysis may include a number of components or approaches. …You may want to assess current practice performance in terms of financial and staff resources, services offered, and outcomes.  Try to understand how patients or stakeholders in the broader community view the practice.  Once you have this information, be sure to further analyze the reasons for perceived weaknesses.  It is often valuable to identify critical success factors for the practice.  This step is not always included in strategic planning, but can be very useful.  Try to understand what factors are necessary to the future and continued success of the organization.  These may be factors like relationships with referring physicians, practice strategies, governance structure, and staff skills and personalities.  Depending on the size of the practice, you might want to review or formalize organizational values and operating principles.  Some practices have written values and principles which guide their decision making and their ongoing activities.  These can be very helpful in “defining” the practice.  A consultant can be hired to assist with the SWOT analysis, contacting stakeholders to provide an external view and staff to obtain an internal assessment.  The result of the analysis should essentially be an investigation of practice strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats.  This may be oral or written, and requires careful review and discussion by those involved in the strategic planning process – everyone should be familiar with the findings before strategic planning decisions are made.
  1. Identify key issues, questions, and choices to be addressed as part of the strategic planning effort. This may mean specifying “strategic issues” or questions that the practice should address, and setting priorities in terms of time or importance. If there is little disagreement about issues and priorities, it may be possible to move immediately to the practice vision and then goals. If there is no agreement on general directions and practice goals, it may be important to explore issue priorities and identify critical choices.  This might be done in several ways.  For example, you may want to ask those involved to identify strategic issues from the SWOT analysis, with individuals identifying a specified number of such issues and indicating why each is strategic, including the benefits of addressing it and the negative consequences of not addressing it.  The consultant working with the group might work to identify strategic issues emerging from the SWOT analysis, and then prioritize them in terms of importance, timing, and feasibility.  The result should be a set of strategic issues that will be addressed as part of the strategic planning process, and a second set that will not be addressed or will receive limited attention during the process, but will be considered by physicians or appropriate staff.  Whatever the method used, the issues discussion should generate some level of agreement about issues or choices to be considered and decisions to be made as part of the strategic planning process.

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Contact ABISA for healthcare consultancy support or speaking engagements.

Healthcare Mobility Strategy

We all know that mobility is changing the world, from the way we think to the way we work, live, communicate, and more.  And that mobility is not stopping when it comes to healthcare.  Unfortunately, regulations such as HIPAA and HITECH are speedbumps in the adoption and proliferation of mobility in healthcare (including the acceptance of telehealth initiatives).  In fact, HIPAA may need to be “updated” to take into consideration the changing environment that is storming through the healthcare industry.  Nonetheless, healthcare leaders are continuing to evolve their IT mobility strategy.  Spok, Inc. recently revealed the results of its survey regarding mobility strategies in healthcare:

91% of those surveyed said their physicians are allowed to use their own mobile devises at work; compared to 50% of nurses and 18% of housekeeping staff.

78% of respondents claimed to have goals in place to improve physician-to-physician communications as well as nurse-to-physician communications.

78% of those surveyed stated they support smartphone use, but only 8% support smartwatches/wearables.

63% of respondents claimed to have a mobility strategy in place – up from 44% in 2014.

62% stated smartphone and tablet users have access to EMRs.

58% of those surveyed said they have goals in place to improve alarm fatigue; 68% stated they are making improvements to nurse call and patient monitoring alerts to mobile devices.

54% noted that their workplace experiences challenges with its infrastructure-WiFi coverage; 47% claimed to experience trouble with cellular coverage.

43% of respondents stated data security poses a challenge.

15% of those that do not have a mobility strategy in place named budget constraints as the reason; 30% said they didn’t’ know why; 17% have a verbal strategy but nothing in writing.

With mobility at the forefront, today’s healthcare organizations are starting to be driven by the application economy.  Security is obviously a huge consideration when considering enterprise mobility options and alternatives.  Indeed, managing mobility within the healthcare arena is complex. However, the reality is that it’s set to become even more complex as the Internet of Things and the proliferation of connected devices gathers pace and momentum.  Mobility is fast becoming to be no longer an option for the hospital or medical practice.  It’s essential and the time to start getting it right is now.

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Contact ABISA for healthcare consultancy support or speaking engagements.