The New and Improved AGS Practice Management Toolkit Solves “Back Office” Needs
“No one ever told me how to manage a practice…It’s not something they taught me in med school or residency…where do I start?”
Geriatricians and other healthcare professionals who are focused on the care of older adults know a lot about the determinants of clinical quality and effectiveness, but, perhaps, not as much about the nuts and bolts of organizing a practice, sustaining it, and managing to stay abreast of Medicare rules and regulations, billing, and many other “back office” issues. In addition, many of us who are already in practice may be considering new professional roles within geriatrics—in addition to or outside of office practice. The newly reorganized and updated AGS Practice Management Toolkit is an excellent and well-thought-out resource that is a “must read” for anyone entering geriatrics, exploring new venues in the field, or looking for a refresher that pulls together many current useful components.
The Toolkit content is now helpfully organized within five overarching sections: “The Basics,” “Financial Matters,” “Operations,” “Professional Development and Leadership,” and “Strategies for Success.” In addition, items of particular interest to those caring for older adults are highlighted in a bulleted format, with references and helpful links provided.
In “The Basics” section, material covers the range of practice models, contracting, and professional liability—all key areas of current concern, especially given the growth of Medicare Advantage and other coverage arrangements. Coding and billing issues, plan structures, and more are discussed in the “Financial Matters” section. And the specific features of electronic health records (EHRs) relevant to geriatric care, and other operational issues, are addressed in the “Operations” section. Since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is mandating EHRs within a few years, many of us are, appropriately, concerned about the cost and effectiveness of these systems, conversion expenses, privacy issues, and, especially, the systems’ ability to communicate with other medical record systems. A review of the content in this section can help us formulate suitable questions for vendors and better inform our approach in this area.
One of the advantages of a career in geriatrics is that—with awareness of the impact of the “graying” of the nation increasing among both members of the public and policymakers—the variety of care settings and the breadth of professional opportunities is expanding. Efforts, in every care environment, to adapt and find solutions that address the growing demand for excellence in geriatric care are also creating new opportunities. Roles within education, industry, government, and other segments of our society are also multiplying, as leaders look to those with training, skills, and experience in understanding the needs of older adults. For these reasons it will be helpful to review the information in the “Professional Development and Leadership” section of the updated Practice Management Toolkit, which includes basic information concerning some of these new roles, as well as advice on evaluating job opportunities and fostering strong leadership principles. Pointers on disseminating geriatric care principles and promoting contemporary management strategies, also very helpful, are included in the final section of the Toolkit, “Strategies for Success.”
Throughout each of the sections, informative case studies, practice and other tips, examples, and basic information of greatest relevance to geriatric practice—such as advice on utilizing the services of other team professionals and optimizing reimbursement through Medicare—are discussed.
I believe you’ll discover a wealth of useful and well-organized information in the revamped AGS Practice Management Toolkit, which will make our roles as practitioners more fulfilling, more efficient, and more satisfying professionally. The Toolkit, accessible via AGS’ members-only MYAGS portal at www.americangeriatrics.org/myAGS/login.asp, will be available shortly. I look forward to your comments about it, and hope to see them addressed in future revisions to the Toolkit.
Dr. Spivack is Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Columbia University, New York, NY; Consultant in Geriatric Medicine, Greenwich Hospital, Greenwich, CT; and Medical Director, LifeCare, Inc., Westport, CT.