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Physician Practice Perspectives

Promoting a medical practice used to be a matter of posting an ad in the Yellow Pages® and sending out direct mailers, with radio and billboard ads thrown into the mix for larger or more ambitious practices. And while some of those methods are still an effective way to market a practice, they’re not enough in a world driven by social media and mobile technology.

For most practices, marketing requires at least a working knowledge of social media and the internet and the means or ability to leverage those tools into brand awareness. And while just having a website was enough a decade ago, most sites will be lost in the online wilderness now without the proper keywords that allow consumers to find them.


The rapid pace of change in healthcare has made it difficult for many practices to keep up with administrative tasks related to billing, claims, EHRs, and quality reporting—prompting many to outsource jobs to third-party vendors. And while most practices try to avoid the expense of farming work out, the complexity of some tasks makes it more efficient and cost-effective to hire an outside vendor rather than risk overwhelming their own employees.

It’s not something that every practice is doing, but it’s becoming more common in an era where burnout rates among physicians are reaching all-time highs, driven in large part by the demands of nonclinical work.


While proponents promote telemedicine as a way to reduce costs, a new study suggests telemedicine may actually generate higher healthcare costs when offered as an alternative to face-to-face visits.

The study, released in March by RAND Corporation and published in Health Affairs, analyzed the behavior of more than 300,000 people with access to telemedicine services and found they spent an average of $45 more per year than patients without access to telemedicine. The study authors concluded that access to telemedicine generates additional physician visits and the use of services that patients would not have otherwise pursued.


Telemedicine is still a niche business for physician practices and one that’s been slow to expand due to restrictive policies that make billing for services a challenge. But some analysts say the industry may be just a few years away from gaining real traction in the maret.

While major health systems like Kaiser Permanente have already made telemedicine an integral part of their operations, opportunities to enter the telemedicine market are still limited for most small- and medium-sized practices. That’s part of the reason that - like many technology-based mediums - the mainstreaming of telemedicine has been slow to arrive despite the hype.


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