Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Physician recruitment agreements: 4 things to consider

Many young physicians I work with are excited to enter into recruitment agreements with hospitals and medical practices in rural and health care shortage areas. The incentives for such arrangements can include a hefty signing bonus, relocation allowance, student loan forgiveness, income support, and other benefits which collectively add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

However, recruitment agreements do not always work out well for every physician. Before you consider signing a recruitment agreement, consider the following and consult with counsel familiar with such arrangements:

1. Realize recruitment money is not “free.”

Many physicians are under the impression that they only need to stay for the forgiveness period and never repay a dime. In fact, arrangements set up to comply with federal law generally treat amounts paid to physicians as “loans.” Physicians may not pay tax on those amounts as received, but will report the income and pay tax on those dollars as they are forgiven.

For a physician being loaned large sums to entice them to the community, this can be a lot of extra dollars to pay in taxes. Imagine if the total of practice support, educational loan repayment, relocation dollars, and signing bonus adds up to $450,000 (plus interest). The loans are to be forgiven over a three-year period following the end of the support period. The physician is making $200,000 at the time forgiveness commences. This means that each year, for three years, the physician’s taxable income will be reported as approximately $350,000 (this is $200,000 salary plus one-third of the $450,000 loan plus interest) and not just $200,000.

Taxes on the extra funds can be substantial and hard to afford for many. Since repaying the debt/walking away from it are not viable options, physicians need to understand the arrangement they are walking into and accept only the support they require.

2. Complete due diligence before entering into a recruitment arrangement.

Some key questions include:
• Have other physicians been recruited to the particular hospital before?
• What happened in those situations? (If the physician is being recruited to join a physician’s practice with hospital support, this question can be especially important.)
• Does the practice owner really want a partner or is your specialty really needed?
• Have other physicians been unsuccessful in joining him or her in the past?
• Will the practice owner(s) be threatened by the new doctor coming into the community?

It can be an unpleasant surprise to be stuck in a practice and community where you are unwelcome.

3. Secure recruitment and income support agreements with the practice.

If a medical practice is involved in the recruitment arrangement, it is essential that such recruiting practice take an active responsibility in the arrangement. This includes meeting an affirmative commitment in the written recruitment documents to properly bill and collect for the recruited physician’s services and to provide monthly documentation of income and expenses. Recruitment/income support agreements are too often signed without involvement of the practice, which means the burden of default falls on the physician.

The income support portion of a recruitment arrangement generally requires a hospital to pay out the difference each month between the receipts generated by the physician and the established monthly promised amount (taking into account expected expenses). Whatever amounts the hospital pays out become part of the recruited physician’s loan. If amounts are not being properly billed and collected by the practice, the receipts from the physician’s services will be artificially low, and the physician will draw more on the hospital loan than necessary. If monthly reports are inaccurate and/or not provided to the hospital, this can cause a breach of the recruitment agreement and can trigger repayment of the loaned amounts. These types of failure should ideally be the responsibility of the practice and not the physician.

4. Understand termination stipulations.

Another significant issue in recruitment arrangements is the termination of the physician from the practice without cause when there are still loan amounts to be forgiven. Given the typical remote rural/healthcare shortage area, it can be impossible for a physician to remain in the community to practice and earn forgiveness following termination. This may be due to the cost of practicing in the area or the loyalty of referring physicians and patients to the existing practice.

For this reason, unless the physician has engaged in wrongful conduct, I advise my physician clients that the practice should bear some or all of the responsibility for the loan should the practice terminate a physician without cause or breach the arrangement. Keep in mind, as well, that if a physician is terminated and must for any reason remain in the community, it is essential that there either be no non-compete (or a very limited one) that reasonably allows the physician to continue to meet his or her obligations to earn loan forgiveness in the community.

Physicians may be eager for the financial rewards offered by recruitment deals, but they also need to understand that such enticements can become a tremendous burden. Recruitment agreements should be properly negotiated by physician counsel to obtain the best possible outcomes for all parties.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

10 Ways to Market Your Business on Social Media

Investing in social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote your business and acquire more leads. Over the past decade, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social platforms have redefined the way people do business. Organizations all over the globe now rely on social media to share photos, new offers, achievements, and other important information. Each social media platform offers a unique opportunity to share your message with your target audience.

Since the business world is highly competitive, finding innovative ways to stand out requires creativity. Here are some tips to help you effectively market your business on social media.

1. Know Your Targeted Audience

It is crucial to know your audience before targeting them. When running a business, keep in mind the location of your establishment and your website. You want to encourage the right type of people to visit your business premises or site such as employment seekers, potential clients, and suppliers. After determining your audience, develop social media strategies that address their needs.

2. Educate Your Fans and Followers

Your customers and audience may follow you on social media platforms to stay updated. Social media offers a rare opportunity for businesses to advertise their services and products. Businesses can use their social media accounts to promote new offers, hold lucky draws, seek feedback, conduct quizzes, and disseminate crucial information. 

3. Add Photos of Your Products

Attractive social media posts don’t necessarily have to be in the form of written texts. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, you can easily attract high-quality leads by posting images. Share photos related to your work environment, team members, and significant achievements to increase your online visibility. Come up with interesting and unique ways to market your products and services across a variety of social networks.

4. Create an Interesting Online Persona

When leveraging social media marketing, it can be easy to get too promotional. Focus on creating the right combination of special offers, services, promotions, prizes, and other engagement tactics. Using a set of social media messages, your business can gain recognition and build a solid brand name.

5. Share Your Achievements and Rewards

Sharing achievements is one of the best marketing strategies for start-ups, midsize organizations, and even large-scale businesses. People always like to follow the best and the most notable brands. If your business has recently won a major award or a positive mention in any of the leading publications, let people know about it.

Social media is a major platform for people to search information about brands and businesses. If you are getting positive customer reviews, it’s always a good idea to share them.

Community involvement serves as the cherry on top of all your marketing efforts. By harnessing the power of social media, you can get people talking about your business. The more online engagement you create, the more customers your business is likely to attract.

6. Check Out Your Competitors

With several established businesses as well as new entrants out there, it is often difficult to stand out from the rest. Staying knowledgeable about your competitors is a good way to enhance your marketing techniques. To obtain a competitive edge, be on the lookout for:
How often your competitors post updates on social media platforms
What time of the day your competitors post
Which types of posts get the maximum engagements
Are there any other platforms your competitors are relying on

Conducting a customer survey can boost your social media marketing efforts. Use your information wisely to develop marketing tactics for customer engagement, and then put them to the test.

7. Create Blogs

Creating blogs that focus on your business is a simple marketing technique, but only a few organizations consider this tactic. You don’t have to be a fine writer, and you can easily hire a qualified individual to write catchy and relevant blog posts for your business. Writing blogs actually benefits both parties; the blogger gets to add a new project to his or her portfolio while the business receives publicity. To boost your online publicity tenfold, get in touch with influential bloggers with lots of followers or consider writing guest posts.

Writing blogs is an easy way to reach out to your target audience. You can offer simple DIY tips, share industrial insights, or offer useful suggestions that address the reader’s needs. Make sure your blog posts are relevant to your industry and contain the perfect blend of information and emotional appeal to convert a reluctant reader into a loyal customer. 

8. Notify Customers

Keeping customers updated is another effective marketing approach. Let your fans and followers know about new and exciting offers by regularly updating your social media handles. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are some of the best social media platforms to attract your customers by publicising what’s happening inside your organization.

9. Appreciate Your Employees

If your employees consent to this, take their photos and share them across your social media accounts. Come up with short, witty, and creative descriptions for all the photos you share. These photos will give the impression that you value the people who work for you. Appreciate hardworking employees on your Facebook page. The more you appreciate your team members on social platforms, the more positive publicity your business receives.

10. Conduct Photo Contests

If you want to get a large amount of user generated content (UGC), hold a photo contest on your social media account. A photo contest is a great way to get customer engagement. Those who submit their photos will keep checking your social media page for updates and encourage their friends and family members to sign up for the contest, resulting in high website traffic.

Some of your ideas may not work at first, but there is no need to feel disheartened about it. Stay consistent with your social media marketing efforts and you may end up expanding your customer base exponentially. If you don’t have a presence on social media, sign up today. If you haven’t updated your social media handles in quite a while, do it now.

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Analyze Your Practice Data to Optimize Profits

These days it can be difficult to keep a medical practice in the black. You may have little control of many of the factors that determine how much money your practice makes, with payer’s fee schedules and unfunded mandates having many practices feeling boxed in. However, by analyzing your practice data, you may find areas where you are leaving money on the table.

Don’t Lose Your Patients

Many of the ways money slips through the cracks aren’t even known to the physicians losing the cash. One great example of this is call abandonment. Not answering the phone when it rings can cost you a bundle. Elizabeth Woodcock, president of Woodcock and Associates, an Atlanta-based physician practice consulting firm, says the call abandonment rate is as high as 28 percent in many practices.

As odd as it sounds, it’s easy to see how this happens. Some practices are so busy that no one has a chance to grab the phone before the caller gives up. A patient trying to make an appointment might go to the hospital or to urgent care or just call another physician. Online scheduling or scheduling through the portal can help with this. But if your patient base isn’t comfortable with those methods, you need to make sure someone answers the phone. “Most telecom systems offer an abandonment rate as a standard feature,” says Woodcock. Take a look at yours and see if you can recoup some lost income by addressing this problem.

Another way business is lost and doctors don’t even know it is when referrals “leak” out of the practice. Doctors in a multi-specialty practice usually refer patients to each other. A primary-care physician who wants a patient to see a cardiologist will naturally refer that patient to a cardiologist in the same group. However, if the receiving physician doesn’t follow up on the referral, the patient is lost to another practice. “We often see that practices are not following up on referrals,” says Woodcock. “If the staff in charge of calling patients to schedule appointments doesn’t make those calls in a timely manner, the business is lost, and the doctor will never even know.” Analyzing in-practice referrals to see if they are resulting in appointments could highlight a big leak you didn’t know you had. If your staff doesn’t have time to take care of this, “the solution,” says Woodcock, “is not hiring more people. You need to invest in a self-scheduling system.”

Check Your Fees

You may be billing for less than you’re entitled to. A careful analysis of fee schedules could earn you a raise. “Analyze your fee schedules and make sure your practice fees cover the allowable fees from your highest payer,” advises Tammie Olson of Management Resource Group, an Ocean Springs, Miss., a firm offering financial management and support services for the healthcare community. “For example, if you accept Aetna but set your fee schedule with the Blue Cross Blue Shield allowable amount, you may be leaving money on the table if Aetna reimburses more.” Olson also recommends taking a look at your payers’ fee schedules to make sure their reimbursements aren’t too low. “If you have a payer whose fees are too low, you might want to renegotiate your contract. If they won’t allow you to renegotiate, then you may want to consider dropping this payer.”

In most cases finding and fixing these problems takes little time and little or no expense. Ignoring them is like walking away from money.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Physician Compensation: Employed vs. Practice Owners

Is there a huge gap between what employed physicians and physician practice owners bring in?

Not at all, according to the annual Physicians Practice Physician Compensation Survey. This year's survey – broken into two parts (part two to be released next Monday) explored the differences in compensation between physician practice owners, employed physicians at a hospital or health system, and employed physicians at an independent practice.

According to the survey, taken by 618 physicians across multiple specialties and employment models, 69.5 percent of physicians who own their practice bring home more than $200,000 in annual compensation. This compares to 75.3 percent of physicians employed by a hospital or health system and 60.7 percent of employed physicians at an independent practice. One negative for practice owners is nearly 8 percent bring home less than $100,000 income per year, whereas only 4.1 percent of hospital employed physicians or 3.6 percent of independent practice employed physicians can say the same.

Employed vs. Independent: Doctors Speak Out

Here are more highlights from this year's compensation survey:

• Not surprisingly, [practice owners were more likely to have non-guaranteed income. At least 19 percent of practice owner physicians say their income came from 100 percent non-guaranteed sources; only 6.8 percent of hospital-employed physicians and 5.2 percent of independent practice-employed physicians said the same.

• Hospital-employed physicians and practice owners fell in line over compensation tied to productivity — 27.5 percent of practice owners said 100 percent of their compensation was tied to productivity vs. 27.4 percent of hospital employed physicians. Only 15.6 percent of independent practice employed physicians said this was the case for them.

• Most physicians — independent or employed — are only receiving a fraction of income due to patient satisfaction measures or value-based care.

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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Restaurant Website Design Requisites For Getting More Business

People usually visit restaurant and cafe websites for various reasons like to check out the menu, the right place for a first date, to book a table for Sunday evening or for small party arrangements. Your restaurant website is the first online space that the potential customers interact with. Chances are that they will make a decision to become your customer on the first impression they obtain from your website.

Therefore, it is crucial to have your restaurant website designed in a way to serve online visitors, engage them and most importantly, turn them into loyal customers. Below are some requisites each café or restaurant website needs to hold.

Consideration From Customer’s Point Of View

Just like how you take care of customer requests in the dining hall, ponder on what they wish for while visiting your website, and then design accordingly.

Logistic information

Basic information like address, email address, and contact number are commonly paced in the ‘About Us’ or ‘Contact Us’ web page. It is recommended to display this easy to read logistic information on your homepage as well as anchor it in a fixed spot on` each page for visitors to see basics in a glance. Moreover, add your location with an embedded Google Map, making it easier for visitors to get to your restaurant.


Menu needs to be placed in prominent place on the website. Menu page needs to be detailed. Adding items directly on the menu page takes some time when compared to uploading a PDF or scanned version. However, the payoff is worthy because the menu can be easily adjusted, design is consistent all through the website and keywords in your menu items can help to enhance Google SEO ranking. For example, you could check out this sample dinner menu, and get a much clear idea. 

Real food images

Visitors on your website will like to see the kind of food your restaurant serves. Stock images don’t reflect your restaurant style. Invest in a photographer and have them capture your culinary art, the food you really offer. Similarly, your interiors are also important. Display real images of the restaurant interiors, so that visitors get an idea of what to expect, when they enter the restaurant door.
Responsive website for better experience

With the increase in usage of Smartphone, people don’t need to be curbed to their desktop for browsing the web. Today, they visit restaurant website on-the-go [while in between task or in transit] looking for where to lunch or dine. Therefore, make sure to create a responsive website that are compatible on mobile devices automatically. Your website should be easily accessible on a tablet, mobile phone as well as on desktop large screens. 

Online reservations

Add a reservation app to your website for consumers ease and convenience. This will allow consumers to make reservations directly from your site. Thus, make sure that your website has smooth navigation through other pages. 

Friendly navigation

Navigation menu need to help visitors quickly find what they are searching for and where to go. Avoid overly lengthy drop downs or heavy icon option, because they take more time to load. The fonts should be readable and clear even on small devices. 

Consider SEO

SEO [search engine optimization] is all about making it easy for the search engines to find your website as per the relevant search terms. For restaurant websites, the big SEO driver is its menu, so post menus as HTML text instead of uploading PDF, which search engines cannot read.

For example, when someone in your area looks for ‘[Restaurant Name] Sandwich Platter’, the search engine ‘perceives’ your delicious platter posted on your website and shows it on top of result page.

Other good SEO friendly drivers are ‘About the team’ page with bios of chef and staff. The ‘Press’ web page that highlights write-ups and positive reviews.

The above restaurant website essentials can make it a potent marketing tool!

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