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Fall 2008

Taking Control

Tony Mira
President and CEO, ABC

As I suggested in my last column, the summer should be a time to rest up and plan your strategy for the balance of the year. There must be a reason why Halloween comes in the fall. This is often the time when some unforeseen circumstance or sequence of events seems destined to undo all our best laid plans for the year. Certainly the recent events on Wall Street bear testament to the truth of this.

It has always been my belief that we always have a choice. We can complain about the unanticipated complications that are the source of such frustration to so many of our clients or we can choose to take control of our circumstances. While this is often easier said than done, experience has taught me that every cloud does, indeed have a silver lining if you are willing to look for it. Take our business. As I constantly tell our employees when they grumble about how hard it is to get paid properly from certain payors: “If it were easy our clients wouldn’t need us!”. The same can be said for providing a comprehensive anesthesia or pain service. If it were easy, the hospitals wouldn’t need you! As is the case for us, the key is to remind administration just how complicated it is and to make it clear why and how the service you provide is the most appropriate for their needs.

I can only hope that some of the very timely and insightful articles in this issue of the Communiqué will help you accomplish this noble goal. We have been interested in Dr. Gilbert’s approach to quality management for quite a while and consider ourselves fortunate that Southeast Anesthesia Consultants has chosen to partner with ABC in the distribution of the Quantum product, because it embodies the spirit of taking control of your own destiny in the operating room. Certainly no one has more insight into the challenges of hospital contracting that Mark Weiss, Esq. and we are grateful to him for his sage advice and guidance. By the same token, Abby Pendleton, Esq. lays out exactly what you need to know if you want to take control of billing compliance and ensure that your practice is never compromised by non-compliant documentation and billing. As important as these previous articles are, be sure to pay special attention to Paul Kennelly’s discussion of ways to make your relationship with your billing service work consistently. His insights and suggestions only underscore our rationale in making him part of our team. After all when it comes to the service business there is nothing more important than setting realistic expectations and staying in communication. We are also glad, once again, to be able to include comments by Shena Scott. We are great believers in and supporters of the MGMA and its AAA. An MGMA membership is definitely a good way to maintain the upper hand in managing your practice. No matter how interesting all the other parts of this issue may be, Karin Bierstein’s review of locums rules is especially timely and relevant.

I know there was a time, at least so many older anesthesiologists like to say, when they could show up, provide good care, and go home at the end of the day knowing that they had made a difference in patients’ lives and a good living. Many now complain that they feel frustrated on both counts. Change tends to have that effect on all of us; we long for the good old days. As is so often said, very often the beliefs and strategies that got us to where we are today will not get us to where we need to be tomorrow. It can be a hard reality to accept and so we persevere by analyzing the trends and anticipating the future. The good news is you are never alone. As this collection of articles should clearly attest there are lots of good ideas; you just need to make sure they are your good ideas.

Please let us know if we have hit the mark with this collection of practical tips and professional advice. I have long submitted that being committed students of this industry is the only thing that makes us successful in this business. Let us learn together and continue to share the insights and best practices that distinguish the most successful strategies for continued success in the ever-changing and always challenging business of healthcare.

Thanks for your continued support.