Pediatric Practice Management Seminar You Don’t Want To Miss

The content in many practice management seminars or conferences are either too generic (the one size fits all medical specialty approach) or too specific (subspecialty focused) in my view. As a result, it makes it difficult sometimes to figure out how to apply the lessons from other medical specialties to pediatrics.

If only there was pediatric specific seminar, where everybody in attendance speaks yScreen Shot 2014-11-21 at 10.10.07 AMour language (the language called Pediatrics), are aware of my specific challenges and when I receive advice, tips, suggestions or recommendations, it is provided with in the context of pediatrics. Wouldn’t that be great?

Well, our prayers have been answered.

My friends at the Pediatric Management Institute have put together an awesome line-up of speakers (Disclosure: I’m one of the speakers. But I’m not including myself among the awesome ones), presentations and case studies for a one day seminar in the San Francisco/Oakland area that you will not want to miss.

This one day seminar packs a lot of information. Here’s a glimpse of the topics that will be discussed:

  • Coding, The Basics and Beyond
  • Set Your Practice Prices Fairly and Easily
  • Brave New World: Future Pediatric Models
  • Key Performance Indicators for Pediatric Practices
  • Easy Methods to Collect Patient Balances
  • The 5 Legal Issues To Watch Out For In a Pediatric Practice
  • Top 10 Coding Lost Opportunities
  • Five Concepts to Maximize Your Marketing
  • When to Add Another Provider to Your Practice
  • ICD-10, Ready or Not!
  • Patient Recalls
  • Budgeting for a Pediatric Practice

Whether you are an expert in practice management, employed by a large health organization or just starting to learn about how to properly manage a medical office, this seminar offers a valuable learning opportunity.

But wait… there is more!

The PMI team is holding the seminar at the Holiday Inn & Suites Oakland Hotel Airport , which as the name implies, is right next to the Oakland airport. No need to rent a car or arrange for additional transportation. You’ll be right there. Fly in. Attend the seminar. Fly out.

For a PDF on the topics, speakers, location and date (Saturday January 24, 2015)  click on the link: Pediatric Management Institute Seminar

Psst…. one more thing.

If you use the code “PediatricInc” when you register, you will receive $75 off your registration. How cool is that? This offer is exclusive to PediatricInc readers. Now you can bring someone along and save $150.00. If you bring one more person, you’ll save $225.00… it’s like the gift that keeps on giving. 🙂



You Need To Read This If Your Practice Is In Illinois

A few weeks ago, I went to a luncheon at our local hospital to learn about the IL Managed Care rollout. I left the luncheon with one thought, this is going to be messy. Perhaps worst of all, the expectations is for doctor offices to clean up the State’s unorganized, information lacking, poorly executed rollout.

The transition to Manage Care is affecting 1.5 million people in the State. Many of those children that are potentially in jeopardy of losing their primary care provider.

Messy is still the word d’jour. Although information is coming out slowly, rollout is complicated and confusing.

Many Unaware

I know many practices are unaware of the Manage Care rollout despite having a healthy number of Medicaid patients. Others have yet begun the credentialing process with the plans.

Patients are also lost. They just want to make sure they keep their primary care provider. But the enrolling process is confusing and practices don’t know what to tell patients or how to help them. At least the ones I’m aware of.

I’ve put together a summary that I’m hoping will help you and your practice get a better idea of the managed care rollout out. If you are a bit turned around and need clarity, read on.

What We Know So Far

  • All Medicaid patients who live in or around Chicago will need to enroll in a new Medicaid managed/coordinated care plan and select a participating PCP. The State of Illinois has mailed letters informing patients to choose from as many as 19 plans.
  • Medicaid eligible patients have 60 days to decide on a plan. If they don’t chose a plan before the 60 day deadline, patients will be auto-assigned to a plan using an algorithm.

The State says their priority with the algorithm is to keep patients with their PCP to ensure continuity of care. But many pediatric practices have yet to enroll with the new plan. What then?

  • Your practice must sign up with at least one of the new Medicaid plans if the practice wants to continue seeing Medicaid patients.
  • Be aware that it might take a few weeks for the plan to submit provider names once the practice is credentialed. Consequently providers may not be listed in the broker enrollment system which will confuse patients.
  • Be aware that Medicaid enrollment brokers are calling patients directly urging them to enroll in a plan while on the phone. Advise patients, verbally in person, they should avoid making decision in haste while on the phone until they know which plan will allow them to keep your practice as their PCP.
  • Your practice can send a letter to their Medicaid patients with a list of the plans the practice has chosen to work with, but you must use a template provided by the State. Click here to see the template.
  • Practices can advise patients “in person” that if they encounter problems during the enrollment process, they ought to wait before signing up with a plan. Patients have up to 60 days after they received the letter to enroll. Auto enrollment will begin mid November 2014.
  • If your patients have already enrolled in a plan that doesn’t include your practice as a PCP, they are able to switch plans within 90 days after enrollment. After the 90 day period, they will only be allowed to switch plans once a year.
  • If you are having trouble being listed in a Medicaid plan provider network in the broker’s enrollment systems, contact the plan administrator.

Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has a website with resources. I found the resources to be confusing. It seems most of the information is for the manage care plans, not for providers. But you may have better luck than me. Link

Please Share

If you come across information that you think may be helpful, please share it in the comment section.

I hope this information is helpful.


On a Related Note: Where is the AAP’s IL Chapter in all of this? As of the date I published this post, the chapter’s website had no mention of the manage care transition.
In their 2013 annual summary, the chapter reported that the most substantial challenge they need to overcome is understand an address why members are not renewing their membership. Clearly, providers don’t see the value in being a member.  It seems to me that the chapter missed a big opportunity to guide and help IL practices navigate this messy rollout, thus showing members and non-members the chapter’s value.  
I also think they could have used their influence as child advocates to shed light on how the lack of clarity is jeopardizing the continuity of care for numerous IL children. 

10 Question You Must Ask If You Want Your Project To Succeed

clarity.001When you observe large organizations, the kind that have MBAs, experienced managers and directors, a savvy CEO and a lot of resources, you would assume they succeed at every single project they do. They have the brain power, the money and the experience. Why would they not succeed?

But the reality is, projects fail all the time. They take longer than expected, are often over budget, conflicts emerge, sometimes people get fired, others quit and the project is doomed.

Why is that? Why do projects fail? Why do they fail despite the talent, experience and resources, etc?

Not long ago somebody explained it to me like this. The reason projects fail is because the people that are working on the project don’t know what it is they are doing. There isn’t a unity, a clear goal, a finish line that all involved are working together to reach. The fundamental issue is this:

In both large and small organizations projects fail, not because of lack of skills, resources, talent or experience, but rather because of lack of clarity.

If lack of clarity is the core reason projects fail, how do we make sure we have the clarity? The answer is somewhat underwhelming. It consist of asking the right questions. Questions that get to the essence of the project.

Here are a few you and your team can ask to get you started on the right path.

What is the project?

It is important to write down the project because writing it down actually means something. If you have it in your head, you don’t really have a project. You just have an idea. Furthermore, writing down what it is that you are trying to accomplish will be a solid reference for yourself as well as your team members.

When is it due?

This one seems obvious. But in my experience, we don’t set dates nearly enough. Putting a date down will provide a sense of urgency. It will also keep people focus while keeping procrastination at bay. The more specific you can be with the due date, the better.

Who is responsible for this project to succeed?

You may be tempted to add all the team members involved, but ultimately, it is better if there is somebody that is THE responsible person. Think about it in terms of a professional sports team. The coach is ultimately responsible for the team to win even though it is the players that are tasked with the execution.

Who is your customer?

List the names of people that you are trying to please. It could be your boss, your patients, your patient’s parents, voters, the board of directors or anybody else. It is important to list them because there is a good chance that you might lose sight of why you are doing this project. And when you do, it is helpful to know who you are doing this project for.

Who are the authorities, influencers and gatekeepers?

These are the people that actually matter to the project. These are the only people you need to pay attention to. Define who they are. Everybody else, you can ignore.

Who is essential to the success of your project?

In every project, there are key people that must embrace the project for it to succeed. This group of individual are not the same as the authorities, influencers and gatekeepers. These can be committees, specialized groups, financial backers, that without their involvement you are dead in the water.

What does perfect look like?

Often times, we start out a project without really thinking about what the end results is supposed to look like. Consequently, we lose direction. For this question, it is important to be as specific as possible. Much of the clarity comes from answering this questions appropriately. Take your time with this one. It is an important questions and should not be taken lightly.

What does failure look like?

Failure is an important aspect of a project one must consider. For starters, failure is almost a sure thing. Thus, understanding what it looks like helps one steer away from it.

How would you plus it?

Here is the stuff you put down when one says, “you know what would be cool?” List 5 or 10 things that would make your project that much better. But make sure addition to the projects become distractions that can delay the timeline or take away from the final product.

How would you minus it?

Just like adding little things to make your project a little better, there are other things that you ought to consider that don’t add anything to the project. These are the things that if you take away from your project, you will actually improve it. Steve Jobs asked a version of this question frequently. I don’t remember the quote exactly, but I remember somewhere reading Jobs saying something like, you know when you are done, not when you can’t add anything else but when you can’t take anything else away.

Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list. Notice, for example, budgeting isn’t addressed. It’s absence doesn’t mean it isn’t important. However the purpose of these questions is to help you and the team begin defining the project in a way that is clear and concise for the benefit of all.

What would you add to this list of questions?


Editorial Note: These questions were inspired and others borrowed from Seth Godin’s book Ship It. 

Deceptively Easy Way to Improve Your Practice, Guaranteed

On a piece of paper, write down this question:


It doesn’t have to be written exactly like I wrote it. Any variation will do. Then, make copies. Several of them. For the next few days or even weeks, hand each parent that comes to visit your office the sheet of paper with the question on it. While they wait, they will have plenty to think about out. You can ask them to use the remaining space – as well as the other side – if they require more than just a few lines.

I just saved you $5000 in consulting fees. Not to mention provided a way for you to have specific and practical ways  to make your pediatric office 10x more awesome than it already is.

You’re welcome…

How to Deliver Exceptional Service In a Medical Office

I wrote a piece for FiercePracticeManagement last week that I wanted to share with you all.

The piece talks about an experience I had while I was on vacation. I was trying to reschedule an appointment I had the next day with my doctor. The experience turned into a little ordeal that frustrated the heck out of me.


One part I didn’t mention in the piece due to word limit constraints is that during all this rescheduling fiasco, I was out of the country. Thus, I was using very expensive international pre-paid minutes while I was trying to connect with the doctors’ offices ( I had to deal with two offices). Even the otherwise non-big deal of being put on hold for several minutes felt as if money was falling out of my pockets never to be seen again.

I also had a terrible internet connection that was at best very, very slow, and at worst, non-functioning. All that added to my frustration.

If you are interested in reading about my ordeal as well as learning my thoughts on how I think is the best way to avoid these type of fiascos in our medical practice, click on the link below

Empower employees to bend the rules to wow patients.

Oh, and if you liked the piece, show some love in the comment section. Or share it with your friends and colleagues by using the social media sharing tools on the site.

Sharing The Practice Management Love: Patient Recalls

It is better than sitting around in September wondering why our patient count was lower this year than last year and then using the economy as an excuse.


The inter-tubes provide many resources on how you ought to run your business, how to get a better job, how to increase sales, how to have your resume read or how to get your next promotion. But you hardly ever hear a person tell you what they actually did to increase sales or land a new job or get that cool promotion. It is all about things YOU should do. Never, this is what I did.

Maybe it is a safer bet to tell others what to do because opening up and sharing what you’ve done may lead to criticism.

So at the risk of getting criticized, this is what I’m going to be doing. Instead of posting the Top 10 Things Your Medical Practice Needs To Do To Survive Tough Times, I thought I would share some of the things we’ve been implementing in our practice to remain a viable business.

Some of the initiatives we’ve been doing for some time, others we started as a result of the economic downturn, increase competition in the area and parents delaying care due to medical cost. Nonetheless, these are real life examples of what a real practice is doing to stay afloat and navigate through economic catastrophe, managed care fiascos and general business challenges.

In the next couple of days, I’m going to be posting these initiatives. So make sure to check back often.

Here is my first post in the series:

Patient Recalls (Well Child)

In the next couple of months, we start gearing up for school physicals. I feel this year, it is going to be different than years past. We are in a recession and many are anticipating parents delaying medical care due to the economic turmoil, high deductibles, lost of insurance or many of the other excuses people are using not to go the doctor. Therefore, we have been a little more proactive in our effort to bring patients back in for their yearly check-up anticipating a dip in patient visits.

We started by running a report of children that are due for their five-year physicals. We all know kids need school physicals to enter kindergarten, so why not give parents a heads up (call, note, letter, postcard) and schedule them in when there is plenty of availability and time.

Not only is this quality of care, but it also helps us ensure patients don’t delay care or go some where else.

Our first day, we called about ten families. Roughly six of the ten families we called made appointments. Parents even made appointments for the siblings of the 5-year old. So, ten calls resulted in about 12 appointments. Not bad considering we just started.

Many parents will say they don’t want to schedule something yet or later cancel the appointment, but that is OK. It is better than sitting around in September wondering why our patient count was lower this year than last year and then using the economy as an excuse.

Are you seeing or expecting patient delaying care? What are you doing to ensure your numbers don’t decrease? Hope you share it with me and rest of the people that visit this blog.

Next post I’m going to be talking about some of things our office is doing to reduce cost.

When Patients Leave The Medical Practice

…the ones that leave were not our patients’ in the first place.

No matter how well your medical practice does, some patient/parents are going to get mad at you. In fact, they might get so upset, they may leave the practice. I’m not talking about the ones that leave because their insurance changed or they moved. I’m talking about the  ones that leave because something ticked them off.

The feeling is not good of course. My doctors often wonder, was it something I said? Did they not like me or my advice? Was it personal? Did my staff do something I was not aware of? I thought the parents agreed with my plan, what changed their minds?

We know we can’t please everybody. Nonetheless, it still hurts; especially when you have worked hard to have a practice that is the best medical practice one can have.

We’ve come to terms with the fact that some will leave. The way we look at it is: the ones that leave were not our patients’ in the first place.

If patients (or their parents) are unable to recognize the value our practice provides, then they are not truly our patients. Therefore, it is best they leave so we can focus on the patients that appreciate the doctor’s opinions, education, knowledge, guidance, clinical expertise, time, advice and staff.

In business, we often hear the customer is always right. And to some extend, the patient is always right; because they are in essence our customer. Until of course, the patient’s “need” conflicts with their “wants.”

One exception.

What if one of our “best” patients decides to leave?

Then we need to find out why. Because a parent/patient that values our medical practice, is a “customer” worth keeping.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are we doing the right thing? Should we look at it differently? How do you deal with patients that leave the practice?