Choosing Our Battles

Last week I attended PCC’s Pediatric Practice Management Conference in Burlington Vermont.  I decided to jot down my thoughts on the conference as I flew back.


As usual, PCC put on a great conference. They lined up great speakers with great topics. For example, there was a talk on finding and keeping the right people by Tim Rushford who is a Senior Project Manager for the Medical Practice Start Up Group. Tim showed us how to take a more proactive approach in employing people that fit our practices’ vision for success, share practice values and work ethic, and enhance our corporate culture in an effort to create a healthy and productive environment in our offices.

Chip Hart from PCC gave an excellent talk on how to manage the “Business Side of Vaccines.” He presented practical and easy steps to follow in order to determine the real cost of vaccines. Chip emphasized that the cost of the “vial” is just part of the cost. We must also consider everything that goes into the administration of the cost. That means figuring out the cost of the syringe we used, to the time it takes the nurse to prepare the shots, to the cost of the VIS sheets we give out.

Meetings, Sharing, Socializing

One of the things I enjoy most about the conference, is getting to know people from all over the US that actually manage pediatric practices. These are people that talk my language and I talk theirs… I love it.

It is always nice to hear what other people are doing in their practice, what are their challenges as well as share some of my troubles and successes and get their perspective on them.

Not gonna lie… sometimes I get overwhelmed

I often get overwhelmed when I hear everything that the speakers suggest we ought to be doing but are not. Things like waivers, charging for forms, charge late fees for people that don’t pay their balance on time, charge a service fee for people that call in credit card payments over the phone, charging for no-shows, having 3 people check every claim that goes out, doing vaccine reconciliations to see if we are wasting vaccines or having the doc check and vet every single EOB.

What makes it worse is, as the speaker is suggesting all these things we ought to be doing to not lose our shirts on the business, there is always a group of people that acknowledges and nods in agreement as if saying: “well of course, who doesn’t do all that..? Pff!”

OK, they don’t actually say that; but in my mind, their body language suggests they are saying that in their heads.


It is not until I talk to other attendees during the break that I feel better when they confirm that they don’t actually do everything the speaker was saying either.

Whew… what a relief. I’m not the only one.

Lessons Learned

Here is the thing… I’m not saying that just because others compromise on certain things, that gives me an excuse to compromise as well. I think the things we are learning should all be considered because in fact, in some way or other, these recommendations will enhance our practices in some way if we implement it appropriately.

However, all these suggestions and recommendations from the speakers require effort, planning, resources, time and often money. And the truth is, some will fit in our practices, and others won’t. But that is OK.

As it turns out, even the speakers that have practices of their own have their own perspective on what is important and what is not. They don’t do everything either and they often do contradicting things. One on hand they’ll make a big deal about why it’s important to do XYZ or otherwise, we lose money, but on the other, they admit doing something else that in my mind probably cost them more than not doing XYZ.

Choosing our battles

In this complex world of private practice — where we are trying to find common ground between offering medical care and not lose money– it is by belief that we have to choose and fight our battles.  Some battles are worth fighting for, while others are not. Because we can’t possibly fight them all.

But that is what the conference is about for me. Learning from the speakers and the attendees, which battles are the best ones to fight.

How about you?

Did you go to the PCC’s practice management conference? What did you take away from the experience? Did you like it? Did you have complaints? I know some PCC employee read my blog. So I’m sure they’ll take notice if you post your thoughts here.

4 thoughts on “Choosing Our Battles”

  1. What an excellent post – and I don’t say that just to pat PCC on the back. It’s difficult for us to get the view from the other side of the fence, no matter how hard we try, and you’ve provided some excellent insight here.

    Years ago, we added the “lab” to our UC to allow practices who see something at a class the chance to jump straight into their own systems and make changes, run reports, re-configure, etc. to help keep the “overwhelming” feeling down. The instant gratification helped a lot…but not everyone at our conference is a PCC client, as you know well.

    Can you think of other things we can do to help folks organize their thoughts and prioritize the changes that they do need to make? I’ve always said that if you can work on only 2-3 things you learn from a conference, it will more than pay for itself…a list of 15-20 (which a PCC can easily generate!) is too much.

    Perhaps you can teach a class for us next year at the end of the event called, “How to bring the changes home…” Really.

    As always, thanks for the comments and compliments. Sorry I didn’t get a chance to sit down with you – as the events get bigger (I think we had 200), it’s harder to see everyone.

    1. I can put down some thoughts on the conference (and the speakers)… you know me… I may not be an expert, but I have opinions…. and lots of them.

      I’d be happy – and honored quite frankly – to teach a class at the conference sometime. In fact, one of my recommendations is to have a panel of your best PCC practices (comprised of billers, PM, office managers and doc’s) discuss how they address certain issues, what success they’ve found in doing certain things and how they’ve overcome some of the challenges we all face. Consultants and vendors are good resources for these things, but they are not always front-line. And having a several sessions with a panel of “front-line soldiers” I think would provide a lot of value.

      PCC can easily generate a huge list of things to-do… no doubt, so I agree, 2 to 3 things can make a big difference. And I guess that was partially the thought behind the post… determining what 2 to 3 things should we adopt or which 2 or 3 things fit best our practice.

      I’ll let your excuse that you were too busy slide this time…. but for the next conference, you owe me a drink.


      1. > I have opinions…. and lots of them.

        Excellent – lay them on us.

        > one of my recommendations is to have a
        > panel of your best PCC practices…
        > discuss how they address certain issues

        Actually, we have done that from year-to-year. Did you get a chance to attend either of the EHR panels? I thought those went really well. It’s a tough thing to wrangle clients, though – if you think about it 🙂 I’ll make sure your input gets back into the loop, though!

        I owe you many drinks!

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