Office managers play a pivotal role in guiding practices’ day-to-day operations as well as long-term strategy. Today’s private-practice administrators, however, face an array of complex challenges:
- Attracting and retaining talent amid inflation and staffing shortages
- Remaining financially viable while preserving autonomy
- Offering convenient tech tools to engage patients
In this episode of The Break Room, we explore solutions to these common obstacles with Mike Gebel, CEO of McIntosh Clinic, a multispecialty practice located in Thomasville, Georgia, and President of the Georgia chapter of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).
What is one of the most urgent, complex challenges private practices face today? And how can Office Managers and Practice Administrators help solve it?
We’re a 30-year-old practice that was started by a group of individuals across multiple specialties. As of today, I have one of the founding original members left. So we are definitely staring at the graying of the physician population. So what can we do to recruit new talent? How can we prepare an offer or a set of benefits to entice younger physicians?
One of the issues we face from a recruiting perspective is being a practice where the physicians are the business owners versus employed by a hospital or large health group. We don’t traditionally have the deep pockets to match their contracts, so what we try to do is create an offer that creates interest amongst physicians. So far, that approach has been successful, thank goodness, because that benefits package is partially funded by our success in value-based care. I have internal medicine physicians who work four and a half days a week, 48 weeks or so a year, and whose take-home pay is in the top 5 percent for their specialty.
To really thrive in both value-based and fee-for-service care, it’s incredibly helpful to have the support and resources of an experienced partner. What were your criteria for — and benefits of — a partnership?
We resisted the idea of something like Privia for a long time. We were in a Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) with a group a few hours north. “This is easy,” we thought. “We can do it ourselves.” After a couple of years, we quickly disabused ourselves of that notion. You can absolutely do it, but I don’t think you can do it well. Working with our board of directors to really look at the long-term viability of the clinic, we realized that to succeed, we’d need to partner with like-minded private practices that share similar goals, beliefs, and approaches to medicine.
We had all of the data, but I couldn’t begin to tell you where to start. So Privia’s resources allow us to take a targeted look at things that actually make a difference.
That’s where we’ve really leveraged our relationship with Privia. Value-based care churns out data in amounts that is like, jokingly, drinking from a firehose. You just can’t do it. You need somebody to help you organize all that data into something that makes sense and is actionable. That was part of what ruined us in our previous MSSP arrangement. We had all of the data, but I couldn’t begin to tell you where to start. So Privia’s resources allow us to take a targeted look at things that actually make a difference.
What makes having a foot in both worlds (or, rather, mostly in the fee-for-service world while we start to put a foot into the value-based-care world) difficult are the models’ different challenges and skill sets. On the fee-for-service side, Privia helps with online scheduling to ensure we’re maximizing our schedule density, and by offering tools like CODER+ to remove some of the tedious box-checking from physicians’ processes and free them up to do more physician-based tasks. And then there’s your revenue cycle management team to proactively notify us about changes so we aren’t playing ping-pong with payers and sending a claim back and forth six times.
All of that support improves our efficiency. The more efficient I can be, the more streamlined a business I can run, which then decreases overhead, which then allows the physician owners to take home more money at the end of the year, which in turn makes for happier doctors, which is what I’m here to do.
As the CEO of McIntosh Clinic, Mike Gebel oversees an 80-person team, including 12 board-certified physicians across primary care and multiple specialties. Additionally, he serves as the President of the Georgia chapter of the MGMA, which unites a diverse array of medical practice managers to drive advocacy, education, and patient-focused care. In his free time, he enjoys fishing, traveling, and spending time with his wife, Mary, and their three children.