What Really Goes On At A Radiology Practice Partners’ Meeting?
I can remember back during my radiology residency many years ago. Every so often, the radiologists at my hospital would meet secretly outside the hospital for their partners’ meeting. As the radiology attendings rapidly left to abandon their shifts to get to this meeting, I thought perhaps the partnership was just like the secret societies such as the Freemasons or the Illuminati. Maybe, they had a secret handshake? Or, could they be plotting the overthrow of the hospital or government? What was really was going on at the partners’ meeting?
Most likely, you also wonder what goes on during the partners’ meeting since you have never experienced anything like it before. Moreover, you are an outsider, not privy to the business of private practice. Yet, one day many of you will also become a partner in a radiology practice. So, today I am going to reveal the secrets behind what partners discuss at their business meetings. Therefore, pull up a chair, read this post, sit back, have a drink, relax, and enjoy. Now, you will learn the truth behind what the partners discuss at a partners’ meeting!
As you might expect, at most meetings a business manager often discusses the current state of a practice’s finances. Are reimbursements declining? Do new potential sources of revenue exist? What imaging modalities are trending higher? Should the practice renegotiate insurance contracts? For some of you, your eyes may glaze over when you hear about the finances of a practice. However, these discussions are essential for continuing business as usual. And, yes, radiology is not just about health care. It also needs to run positive income to pay the employees, the fixed costs, the partners’ salaries, that end of the year Christmas party, and more. Most meetings involve financial discussions.
Long-Term Strategies- Mergers, Acquisitions, And Partnerships
Nowadays, practice size has trended upward. In order to reduce costs and maximize profits, many practices must evolve to create larger entities so that they can use economies of scale. What do I mean by that? Essentially, practices can distribute fixed costs among a larger group of employees, thus saving money for the practice. Therefore, you probably hear a lot about practices merging or private equity firms buying out practices to save on costs. Well, partners meetings are very common private forums for discussing these issues. In addition, you can expect practices to talk about ways to maintain good relationships with the hospitals and clinical colleagues as a long-term strategy. This all happens at some partners’ meeting
Manpower Issues/ Human Resources
Almost every practice has its fair share of issues with employees. Perhaps, some physicians do not meet the expected requirements of the practice. Or maybe, clinicians have been complaining about certain practice members. Partners meetings are the appropriate forums to discuss these practice problems. In addition, partners discuss hiring new employees to meet the demands of the practice. Partners will talk about these problems and attempt to come up with solutions to match the manpower to the needs of the practice.
One thing that is constant in any practice is change! Whether it be new imaging modalities, increasing requirements of films to be read, or losing business to other clinicians, the scheduling demands must meet the appropriate workloads. In order to maintain maximal efficiency, partnerships will broach better ways to schedule partners and employees. In this same vein, practices will also debate vacation policy schedules as well as the appropriate workloads for daily and weekly rotations whose needs may differ over time. These items commonly enter into the typical partners’ meeting.
Beauracracy and Compliance Issues
Every year, governments come up with new rules and regulations for practices to follow. A few years ago it was ICD-10 codes. Now we have new quality improvement mandates set by Medicare. Whether it is for maintenance of certification or hospital credentialing bylaws, these items constantly change and can be crucial for maintaining the practice and complying with the law. All partners need to be kept aware of the newest compliance issues for the successful running of a practice. What better forum than a partner’s meeting to discuss this?
Insurance And Benefits
In this category, I will include malpractice, health, life, and disability insurance as well as pension plans and yearly bonuses. Partners need to approve the renewal and/or disbandment of these annual benefits depending on the costs and overall contribution to the practice and partners. You wonder how they come up with these policies. Well usually, this occurs at the partnership meeting!
Lastly, although residency issues do crop up that can affect the practice. (If you have a practice that has a residency), the practice may or may not discuss it in a partnership meeting. But, occasionally, sometimes they do make it to the partners meeting agenda. The discussion could be about new residency requirements, a site visit from the ACGME that all partners need to plan for, a specific resident issue, a problem resident, and more.
The Secret Partners’ Meeting- Final Thoughts
In order to maintain a practice, a partners meeting is a necessary evil. And, as you can see, the agenda of a partners meeting can fill up quickly. In fact, depending on the time of year and the number of issues at hand, meetings can take hours and hours of time. Yet, the partners meeting is an important aspect of a quality partnership and business. So, the next time you see the partners disappearing to attend the partners meeting, at least, you now have some faint idea of what happens. Although you may never get to learn the secret handshake (or the nitty-gritty financial details), you now know what to expect from that secret partners’ meeting. And no, it’s most likely not just about discussing you!