Magazine article Medical Economics

Selling to a Health-Care Firm: "Like Taking a First-Time Job"

Magazine article Medical Economics

Selling to a Health-Care Firm: "Like Taking a First-Time Job"

Article excerpt

George D. Harris of Palm Harbor, Fla., was happy as a solo FP until a year and a half ago. Then some long-festering problems--and a few newer ones--came to a head.

Although one of the first in his area to embrace managed care--he had built a high-volume practice rapidly by contracting with a number of large insurers and joining two local IPAs--he felt increasing pressure to do more with less. "My overhead was continually going up, and yet the managed-care plans and Medicare wanted me to accept bigger discounts," Harris explains. That meant seeing more patients each day just to keep his revenue from sagging. "It simply wasn't the kind of practice I wanted," he notes.

Managed care was also driving many of his long-standing patients into plans he wouldn't join. Many of the plans he did participate in were requiring an increasing amount of staff time to untangle knotty and, to his thinking, avoidable problems. "We had to become patient advocates," he says, "and that was wearing on all of us." Indeed, so great was the burden on staffers that, in frustration, they started demanding fringe benefits Harris himself didn't have.

Two other internal matters added to an already stressful situation. One was the press of administrative duties. Without an office manager--he had decided after many years that things got done quicker and better if he did them himself--he was responsible for hiring and firing and nearly everything in between. Then, about seven months ago, Harris' nurse went on maternity leave, and he was forced to call in a temp. "At this point," he recalls, "I knew it was time to start investigating some alternatives to my present situation."

He almost didn't have to, since within a two-week period this past summer he received a pair of offers--one from the local hospital; the other from Caremark International-owned Diagnostic Clinic in Largo, a multispecialty clinic that wanted to extend its primary-care network. …

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