Magazine article Medical Economics

Options for Larger Groups

Magazine article Medical Economics

Options for Larger Groups

Article excerpt

Most of the practice "sidelines" described in the accompanying article are low-tech and low-cost. Individual doctors and small primary-care practices usually can't afford the equipment necessary for high-tech services. Those require a big up-front investment, and a small practice may not use the equipment enough to generate the revenue necessary to pay back its cost within a reasonable time.

Larger groups, though, can make high-tech procedures pay. Here's what some group practices are doing to supplement their income.

On-site laboratories. Piedmont Family Physicians, a six-office group of 22 Virginia physicians, started its own full-scale laboratory last August. Twenty of the group's doctors formed a management-services organization, which bought the equipment and leases it to the practice.

The lab equipment includes a multichannel chemical analyzer that, with a reagent supply contract, cost $170,000, to be paid over five years. "The reagent is the main cost," explains Michael A. Okin, a partner in the MSO. "The machine itself cost about $80,000." The lab also has an automated cbc machine, and the group plans to add a prothrombintime machine.

Besides space for the lab in the most centrally located office, the group added a certified technologist to manage the operation, two laboratory technicians, and a courier who picks up specimens at the group practice's offices.

Cardiac wellness. "We started a transplant program three years ago, and we're doing very well with that," says Michael Spain, president of CardiologyTulsa, a 19-doctor group practice.

"About a year ago, we realized that in this area of Oklahoma, cardiology was adopting the disease-management approach," Spain says. "So we set up a committee to look into building such a program." The result was LifeSteps, a heart-disease management center that includes a lipid clinic and a congestive-heart-failure clinic. …

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