Thursday, December 6, 2018

Bonus SoundPractice Podcast - Is That a Candy Cane in Your Pocket?

Holiday work parties are a time for fun and celebration. But when a little relaxation and alcohol mix, the line between professional and unprofessional behavior can get blurry. In this episode we cover some do’s and don’ts to make sure your holiday party is an embarrassment-free zone.
Go to or listen wherever you get your podcasts, such as iTunes or GooglePlay.
Our Holiday Gift to you!
Enter our drawing to win 1 of 3 copies of the new book by Mike Sacopolus and Susan Gay"Tweets, Likes, and Liabilities: Online and Electronic Risk to the Healthcare Professional," published by Greenbranch Publishing. Available at or at  Here's how to enter the drawing:

  1. Send an email to with suggested topics you'd like to hear in our podcast series or,
  1. Send us your most outrageous (but true) holiday work party story. Send to and you'll be entered in the book drawing.

Good luck and Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Our Best Pricing for the Year! 50% off Greenbranch Publishing

All Greenbranch Publishing Practice Management and Business of Medicine Products*

50Off your total order!
Books, eBooks, Articles, Conference Recordings, The Journal of Medical Practice Management and FAST Practice - any product* at
Order online and use discount code "Green"
(no quotes) at checkout. 
Deal expires Tuesday Nov. 27 at 11:59 PM (Eastern).
Cannot be combined with other offers.
*Offer does not apply to
the MPM Network Club.
Need to order by Phone?
Call 800-933-3711 or send email and mention discount code "Green" to customer service.

Thank You and Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Hints for Young Healthcare Executives Who Manage Older, Experienced Staff Members

The number of executives holding high corporate ranks while still in their twenties and thirties has grown substantially of late. This may bring challenges to organizations, since such young leaders may supervise employees decades older than themselves. However, there are a number of strategies young executives can use to bring harmony and balance to these relationships. 

1. One strategy such leaders can use is to be clear with what you expect. As the heads of departments organizations, young leaders need to set the tone for those who report to them.  Be clear with your expectation and directors, and communicate as much as possible to avoid ambiguity. 

2.   Another way to improve relationships is to communicate with older employees consistently. If you have regular conversations with older employees, you’ll develop an understanding of their motivations, working attitudes, needs, and values. Then you’ll be better able to develop an appropriate organizational strategy. Bear in mind, meanwhile, that all older employees are not all the same; after all, an employee who is ten or more years away from retirement may have different priorities than one a year away. 

3.  In addition, it’s important for young leaders to address weaknesses of older employees supportively. Don’t assume ahead of time that older staffers are likely to resist learning new things, such as how to use emerging digital technologies. Encourage and help such older workers to adapt to changes through the use of manual demonstrations, tutorials, and training programs. Give these employees the benefit of the doubt, and be patient. 

4.   Also, it’s important to tap into the experience of older staff members, as they have a lot to offer. Consider that they may be able to provide you with valuable information and insight. Often, they can offer guidance and advice that can help you shape better strategies. And by tapping into their experience, you can make older employees feel appreciated and motivated as well. 

Unfortunately, a fair number of younger executives have negative opinions of older workers, whom they may perceive as inflexible or having a dated knowledge base. This leads to hard feelings, misunderstandings, and needless turnover. Such prejudices can also create a toxic workplace culture among those with the deepest understanding of the business. 

The truth is, no organization can do without the insight and institutional experience that lives within senior employees. Taking advantage of their knowledge is critical to keeping up with market forces, developing realistic plans, and avoiding past mistakes. 

In addition to the steps outlined above, practices can solicit the involvement of older employees in building better processes, since they’re well aware of which approaches have worked and which have fallen short. Leveraging this experience can make the difference between failure and success for your practice, particularly in key areas such as revenue cycle management, customer service, clinical management, and marketing. 

Leveraging the experience of senior staffers can also help keep your practice afloat as changes hit the healthcare industry. Experienced staffers who have “seen it all” can help stabilize your practice as it works to adapt to such changes, and they can provide useful feedback to less-seasoned employees on how to weather transitions. 

Ultimately, the key is to treat all employees as valuable and able to offer unique advantages to your organization. If your practice takes advantage of each staff member’s strengths, it’s far more likely that it will thrive as healthcare delivery continues to evolve.   The Journal of Medical Practice Management   
Fast Practice (800) 933-3711 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Personal Rebranding for the Healthcare Practice Executive

Even successful executives sometimes take stock of their situations and decide they want to strike out in a new direction, pursue different opportunities, or advance within their own industry or company. They’ve worked hard to build a sound reputation, but sometimes that very reputation becomes a liability for trying something new. They are prevented from pursuing something new by people who can’t picture them in the new situation. This post focuses on individuals in healthcare leadership who want to—or find themselves forced to—change direction. If you find yourself in a such a predicament, it’s time to “rebrand” yourself. 

In a medical group practice, we face change and resistance almost every day. Physicians, of course, have been trained and socialized to avoid risk; and while that may be good medicine, it’s not always good business. A group administrator with years of experience in a cardiology practice might want to pursue an opportunity with an orthopedic surgery group. The orthopedists might see her CV and think, “Pretty impressive, but this person has never dealt with orthopedics’ unique issues,” and move on to the next résumé in the stack.

Others might want to change their roles within their organization. Maybe a billing supervisor would like to take on broader administrative responsibilities when the office manager position opens up. The doctors have been pleased with her work, so moving her out of the present position makes them nervous. Besides, they just can’t quite “picture” her running the whole business operation.

Physicians aspiring to leadership roles within their groups may face some of the same challenges, too. The strategic steps outlined below can help you rebrand yourself—that is, guide people to change how they perceive you and your abilities. If you can alter that perception, they might take a chance on you. Changing your reputation and what others expect of you requires a five-step strategy in support of your vision:

1. Define your destination. Start by determining where you really want to invest your energy; assess your current skills and those you need to acquire. Use personal research, find a mentor, or go back to school to get what you need.

2. Leverage your points of difference. The background and experience you bring to your new endeavor makes you unique. Figure out how to make your differences work for you, not against you.

3. Develop a narrative. Create a convincing story that explains how your past fits into your present. Don’t explain the transition in personal terms—such as, “I was bored; I needed a change”—rather focus on the value your prior experience brings. It’s not about inventing a new persona—it’s a shift in emphasis that should prompt others to say, “I can see you doing that.”

4. Reintroduce yourself. Establishing and developing new contacts will prove to be the easy part. The harder task is reintroducing yourself to your existing network. Most people don’t pay close enough attention to the details of their friends’ and contacts’ lives and careers. That means strategically re-educating people who know you or are acquainted with you. If you have some serious negative baggage to address, you will find it necessary to discipline yourself to stick strictly to the new image you want to project.

5. Prove your worth. Unless you can show evidence of your skills through past successes, you will have a hard time getting someone to trust you enough to employ your new abilities. Proving your worth is not a one-time endeavor—you’ll have to show your success over and over again.

Even in our personal lives, we will experience resistance from friends and family when we want to make changes—even changes that improve our situations. There’s something frightening about the unknown: “Better the devil you know than the one you don’t” sums up the tendency for people to tolerate even a devilish situation with which they’re familiar rather than strike out in search of something better.   The Journal of Medical Practice Management   Fast Practice (800) 933-3711 or 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Announcing: "Tweets, Likes, and Liabilities: Online and Electronic Risks to the Healthcare Professional," by Michael Sacopulos and Susan Gay

Electronic medical records, websites, cellphones, email, and social media have created tricky new legal problems for healthcare practices. The digital world, namely social media, offers healthcare practices a vehicle to attract patients and potential employees but also presents risk to healthcare providers. This book will give practices the knowledge and tools to reduce liabilities and provide a “roadmap” to that world.
Although physicians, practice managers, administrators, and risk managers of practices and health systems know these issues are important, there is a dizzying array of issues (and interpretation) on the Web. Staff member have difficulty in identifying areas of potential risk, lack of a strategy to address electronic risks, and lack of tools to address electronic risks.
This essential book will give you peace of mind by flagging areas of risk – and then provide guidance and templates to address the risk.
Find out what’s important, and what’s not, in this easy-to-use guide. Selected topics include:
  • No more guessing: a Social Media Policy for Your Employees
  • Reviewing the social media profiles of employment candidates? We'll give you state by state guidelines.
  • Train Your Employees on Cyber Security Basics
  • Don't Let Your Website Turn Into a Law Suit
  • The only Mobile Device Policy you'll need
  • How you can be hacked through your website, “Contact Us” feature.
  • I know the perfect guy for you. He put together the website for our church.” How to select a website designer
  • The skinny on SSL Certificates and why you need one
  • Who Owns the Content in our website?
  • Patient photos on your site
  • Astroturfing – Fake Reviews, Real Consequences
  • Are generic HIPAA training models enough?
  • Focus on the Biggest Cyber Risks First – we'll give you the roadmap
  • BONUS! Templates for your mobile device policy, social media policy, business associate agreement, photo and video release, plus others!
Table of Contents
Section I
Introduction: Patients, Physicians, and Social Media: The State of the State
  • Social Media and the Hiring Process
  • Social Media Use and Policies in the Healthcare Practice
  • Cybersecurity
  • Your Practice Website
  • Online Reviews and Ratings
Section II
Social Media and the Ghost of Employees, Present and Future
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Federal Antidiscrimination Laws
  • State Laws on Social Media Policy in the Hiring Context
  • Best Practice Advice for Using Social Media When Hiring
  • Best Practices for Employers When Conducting Online Social Media Searches
  • Social Media Policies for Employees: The Illusion of Control
Section III
The Content You Create – Internal Risks and Management
1. Don't Let Your Website Turn Into a Law Suit
  • How to Minimize Risk and Improve Compliance
  • Hacking is Not Limited to Networks
  • Cents and Sensibility
  • Where Oh Where Can I Find a Good Web Developer?
  • Conduct a Risk Assessment with Vendors
  • Contract Terms
  • The Business Associate Agreement (BAA)
  • Disclosures, Consents, and Terms...Oh My
  • Website Content and the Role of the Federation of State Medical Boards
  • Site Security, HIPAA Compliance, and You
  • Specialty Vendors Requesting Access to Your Website
  • Accessibility for All
  • Risk Assessment Questions for Web Developers
  • Checklist
2. Licensing Boards: Ethical Duties in the Cyber World
  • HIPAA Considerations and Best Practices to Avoid Breaches
  • Case Studies: Misguided Mistakes and Egregious Errors
  • Overview of the Federation of State Medical Boards’ Model Guidelines for the Appropriate Use of Social Media and Social Networking in Medical Practice
3. Practical Cybersecurity for Physicians: How to Develop Policies, Procedures, and Effective Training
  • Why Preparedness is Worth the Effort
  • Focus on the Biggest Risks First
  • Develop/Update Policies
  • Security Policy
  • Social Media Policy
  • Mobile Device Policy
  • Written Procedures Are a Must
  • Design an Effective Training Program
  • Ongoing Training and Monitoring are Critical
Section IV
Patient Satisfaction and Online Reviews—Managing Risk and Your Online Presence
  • Patient Satisfaction is a Vital Metric
  • Taking Charge of Your Online Presence
  • Embracing Online Ratings
  • Monitor Yes. Respond? Maybe, Maybe Not
  • Economics of Good Reviews
  • Correlation with Clinical Outcomes
  • Patient Satisfaction Tips
Section V
Template Gallery/Resources
1. Business Associate Agreement
2. Pop-Up Notice on Website Prior to a Patient Communicating with Your Office
3. Terms of Use for Your Website
4. Healthcare Practice Security Policy
5. Photograph and Video Release
6. Social Media Policy for the Healthcare Practice
7. Mobile Device Policy
8. Data and Electronic Sanitation and Disposal Policy

(800) 933-3711 

Authors Mike Sacopolus and Susan Gay

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Good Documentation and a “Clean” Firing can Help Protect your Practice

Without being mean and cold-hearted, a manager needs to keep communications with the terminated employee short and simple. The more you talk, the more trouble you can stir up. Firing an employee is never easy. You have to be careful and thorough to make sure you haven’t said or done something that could be used against the practice in a wrongful-termination lawsuit. It’s important that you clearly document the history that led up to the termination, and it’s critical that the record shows that you have treated the terminated employee the same as you treat everyone. Lawyers look for evidence of discrimination—especially if the worker is part of a “protected” class. 

In trying to make a firing easier on the employee, many managers and physicians trip themselves up with legally clumsy mistakes. Here are five pointers for avoiding some of the common errors:

1. Keep the discussion short and direct. It’s tempting to unload on the failing staffer with a history of underperformance and mistakes. Each problem you raise gives the employee a chance to argue each point. If the worker tries to draw out the conversation, tell him or her that “there’s nothing left to talk about.”

2. Be clear that this is a termination. Trying to soften the blow can relay a mixed message—a firing sounds more like a last-chance warning. Leave no room for misinterpretation.

3. Tell the truth about your reason to fire the employee. If you’re firing the staffer “for cause,” don’t call it a layoff. Calling it a layoff (or eliminating a position) can affect unemployment claims. Worse, you can get in legal hot water if you then turn around and hire a replacement. Similarly, don’t call an economic elimination a performance-based firing. You likely won’t have the records to back up your claim.

4. Calm the remaining employees afterward. Don’t lie, but don’t divulge too much information either. Tell remaining staffers only what they need to know to assure them that the decision was fair and that their own jobs are not necessarily in jeopardy.

5. Take the former employee to the door immediately. Don’t let a terminated employee talk with other staff members. Have someone (probably yourself) accompany the worker back to his or her desk to collect personal items. While this can feel like you don’t trust the employee, it also protects him or her from being wrongfully accused of unprofessional conduct or theft.

Once you’ve made the decision, though, make sure the employee understands that there’s no room for discussion or negotiation. If you allow him or her to talk you into allowing one more chance, you will only extend the process and delay the inevitable firing. You’ll lose credibility with the under-performer and with other members of your staff.

Good documentation, fair practices, and a “clean” firing will help protect your practice and will remind the rest of your staff that you mean what you say about performing up to standard.   The Journal of Medical Practice Management   Fast Practice 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Nothing in Your Revenue Cycle Takes Care of Itself. Five Mistakes Providers Make.

Healthcare providers with sub-performing accounts receivable will do well to take a close look at these five broad areas. This advice is especially important to high-volume billing offices affiliated with hospitals and healthcare systems. It’s not uncommon for institutional departments to falter in any of these five areas.

1. Not staying current with payer requirements. Payers often develop new tools and processes that can help you avoid slow payments and rejected claims. 
Make sure you have the latest technology (system updates), manuals, and contact information in place.

2. Failure to monitor the entire claims process: Without thorough monitoring of each step, staffers will waste countless hours analyzing denials and delays. The bottleneck that’s choking your cash flow may hide in a process you’ve inadvertently ignored.

3. Not resubmitting rejected claims: If you don’t feel you have access to data to support your claim, you might be reluctant to resubmit the rejects.

4. Failure to verify patient eligibility: Fully one quarter of practices never verify patient eligibility and copayment amounts. With constantly rising copayments, this can cost a practice dearly.

5. Not recognizing trends: Focusing on one claim at a time without stepping back to look at the
bigger picture will prevent you from seeing correctible errors in your processes.

Without a specific assignment, no one has time to analyze charges going out to make sure billing requirements have been met, and no one has time to analyze payments and adjustments coming in the door. The problems described in this article require analyzing trends and identifying where you’re missing out on revenue opportunities. 

The take-home lesson: Nothing in your revenue cycle “takes care of itself.” You must deliberately plan to analyze and evaluate your processes so that it becomes part of your routine. Otherwise, you could have a significant “leak” draining potential income from your practice.

Visit us at for The Journal of Medical Practice Management or our Abstracts and Commentary Newsletter, Fast Practice.