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2017
Oct 27

Health Care Group Newsletter – Fall 2017

Fall 2017


Using Social Media in Your Practice
Amanda Gutierrez

Technology continues to grow and expand. In today’s evolving society, individuals look to social media to be informed and connect with one another. If you are interested in enacting a social media strategy for your practice, it is important to know the pros and cons to these platforms. This article explains reasons to use social media, current popular platforms and tips for connecting with your audience.

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Why Should You Try It?
The most popular platforms today are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and LinkedIn. For physicians, the primary reason to use social media is for marketing purposes and to keep people informed. For instance, a medical practice can use social media to:

  • Reach out to new patients and increase their target demographics;
  • Develop and increase brand awareness and product/service availability for new and existing patients;
  • Develop patient loyalty and a positive referral base;
  • Improve patient retention; and
  • Increase communication with patients.

It is also important to be aware of the platforms currently in use. For example, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are a few of today’s primary outlets, whereas AOL chat rooms, Myspace and Google Plus have lost popularity. Using a platform that no one else is using will not help you market your practice. Identify which platforms your patients use, create a practice-related group and invite them to join. However, do not overextend your presence across all of the sites. Instead, choose a few platforms to connect with your patients.

Furthermore, it is also a good idea to advertise your practice’s availability, build patient relationships in a HIPAA-compliant fashion and provide updates about services and promotions. Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram have paid advertising options on their platforms. It may be difficult to evaluate their effectiveness, but it is possible to target your audience and limit costs by placing a cap on the ad after a certain number of clicks.

Why Should You Not Try It?
There are plenty of good reasons not to use social media. For one, it can be difficult to evaluate your return on investment because determining whether or not a social media presence actually brings in new patients or helps retain existing ones is hard to ascertain. Furthermore, patient privacy is extremely significant and should not be violated. If you don’t follow the best practices, potential violations of HIPAA could arise with social media usage. Additionally, you potentially run the risk of irritating or offending followers if you express personal opinions on social media. This could affect your practice’s online presence and client relationships.

What are the Best Practices?
You should assign one person in your practice the role of monitoring your social media presence. Here are some tips on how to use social media professionally and effectively:

  • Set Guidelines and Stick to Them
    Let HIPAA be the core of those guidelines.
  • Have a Good Reason
    Use it for a specific reasons, such as engaging with patients or marketing your practice.
  • Be Professional
    Develop a social media presence and persona that represents your professional self.
  • Pay Attention to Security Settings
    This will limit who can view and interact with your posts.
  • Use it Regularly
    Sporadic use is not effective. You can take advantage of platforms that allow you to schedule posts for future dates and times.
  • Link to Relevant Content
    This can be original content or permissible content from another source.
  • Be Brief
    Social media posting should be similar to chatting at a cocktail party, not delivering a college lecture.
  • Do Not Provide Medical Advice
    You should never, under any circumstances, provide specific medical advice on social media. This could lead to legal liabilities. Instead, refer followers to visit your website or to make an appointment for a consultation.

Is it Worth Your Time?
Like most things related to marketing, it is important to pay attention to what does and does not work. If social media starts to become a chore that takes more time than it returns in benefits, seek other marketing strategies. Clearly, your first responsibility is to tend to your patients and medical practice. Social media is simply a tool to explore for enhancing patient relationships and growing your practice.

For more information, contact Amanda Gutierrez at agutierrez@orba.com or call her at 312.670.7444. Visit ORBA.com to learn more about our Health Care Group.
© 2017


Co-Management Arrangements: Rewarding Quality and Efficiency Can Be a Win-win
Jason Flahive, CPA

In the pay-for-outcomes healthcare world that the industry is moving toward, there is an increasing emphasis on the quality of care. One way for physicians and other medical providers to improve the efficiency and quality of their services is to use the system of clinical co-management to implement a rewards structure for participants. This article describes co-management arrangements and discusses their control issues, legal implications and how they can be beneficial to everyone involved.

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Everyone benefits when physicians and other medical providers improve the efficiency and quality of their services. So, how can you ensure that these benefits become tangible and generate real incentives to encourage your practice to continue to improve over time? One method is to use a clinical co-management system to implement a rewards structure for participants. However, in order to make a co-management arrangement work for your practice, you must first understand its ins and outs.

Co-Management Arrangements
Co-management arrangements are most commonly set up through a management company—organized as a separate legal entity, usually an LLC—owned solely by physicians or jointly by the physicians and the hospital.

Under a co-management arrangement, a hospital coordinates with the LLC to take responsibility for clinical and operational management of hospital-related facilities and service lines, such as surgical centers or satellite primary care clinics, with the goal of improving efficiency and quality of care.

Any relationship with a hospital must achieve goals set by both the physicians and the hospital itself. If only one party benefits, the relationship will be short-lived. It is also important for the hospital to realize that every action in pursuit of market share and goal fulfillment has an economic impact on its physicians.

Typically, the parties create a compensation agreement that involves a base payment commensurate with the fair market value of the management services provided, plus an incentive fee tied to efficiency and quality objectives. Both parties should seek independent valuations by experienced appraisers to determine the fair market value of the two compensation components.

Control Issues
Co-management may be appealing to physicians who want to closely integrate with a hospital, while simultaneously maintaining their independent practice and not becoming employees of the hospital. With such a close-knit working relationship, the parties must trust each other completely.

Furthermore, the hospital must accept that it will surrender some control over its operations, whereas the physicians must understand that they will take on substantial managerial and leadership responsibilities within the hospital.

In addition, governance by the management company is critical to the success of the arrangement. If it is a true partnership of physicians and hospitals, the management company’s participation should equal or exceed that of the hospital. This should not be an issue with for-profit hospitals. However, tax-exempt hospitals may insist on 50-50 equity arrangements and reserve powers to protect their charitable missions.

Proceed With Caution
When a hospital and a group of independent physicians collaborate, a number of legal questions emerge. For example, the Anti-Kickback Statute may be violated if the co-management agreement induces physicians to refer patients to the hospital. The Stark Law requires that compensation in agreements between a hospital and physicians should not be tied to the value or volume of referrals for designated services. However, a co-management arrangement may be able to take advantage of several available Stark exceptions.

Furthermore, the Civil Monetary Penalties Law must also be considered. This law prohibits a hospital from making payments to physicians as inducement to reduce or limit services. Consequently, co-management deals should avoid incentive fees based on achieving cost reductions.

Lastly, 501(c)(3) hospitals cannot use a co-management arrangement to confer private inurement, private benefit or excess benefits to the physicians.

Best Advice
Deciding whether a co-management arrangement is right for your practice can be difficult. You will need the advice of knowledgeable professionals, such as health care advisors and attorneys. In the right circumstances, a co-management arrangement can be a win-win.

For more information, contact Jason Flahive at jflahive@orba.com or call him at 312.670.7444. Visit ORBA.com to learn more about our Health Care Group.
© 2017

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