2 New Jersey surgeons on how independent practices can thrive

Carly Behm -   Print  |
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With consolidation accelerating, some practices are strategizing how to remain independent.

Two surgeons from East Brunswick, N.J.-based NJ SPine and Wellness shared their advice for orthopedic practices with Becker's.

Ask Orthopedic Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to orthopedic surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting orthopedic care. We invite all orthopedic surgeon and specialist responses.

Next week's question: How will outside forces such as Amazon and Walmart affect healthcare in the U.S?

Please send responses to Carly Behm at cbehm@beckershealthcare.com by 5 p.m. CDT Tuesday, Sept. 21.

Question: What factors will best help an independent orthopedic practice thrive?

Note: Responses were edited for style.

Alok Sharan, MD. Spine surgeon at NJ Spine and Wellness (East Brunswick, N.J.): Orthopedic surgeons need to know two to maintain an independent practice.

Marketing: They need to have a clear-cut marketing strategy. Gone are the days when you could say “If I build it they will come.” Traditionally physicians have been able to survive because the demand for the care was greater than the supply. While this may be true in certain parts of the country, orthopedic surgeons have to think about their uniqueness and what service they can offer that differentiates themselves from others. Once that is defined, then they have to figure out what type of marketing channel they want to use to send out that message (i.e. Google ads, social media, billboards, radio, etc.). If an orthopedic practice can figure out how to maintain a steady source of referrals, then they do not need to rely on a large healthcare system to maintain a patient base.

Operational efficiency: Margins are becoming increasingly tighter for practices. As the downward pressure on reimbursements continues, physicians will have to figure out how to do more with less. Many practices join large healthcare systems or consolidate with other practices to reduce their fixed costs associated with administrative expenses. Currently there are tremendous digital technologies and start-ups that can help a physician maintain an independent practice at a low cost. If a physician or a practice can keep their unit costs low for administrative expenses (i.e. operational efficiency), then they do not need to merge with a larger entity.

Ammar Saymeh, DPM. Director of foot and ankle medicine at NJ Spine and Wellness: In residency, I was advised that if you do great work and treat patients like family, your business and practice will thrive. In addition to this, upholding an excellent level of care has only proven to be possible with surrounding staff and leadership who share the same goals. Being a part of a dynamic work environment with individuals who practice honesty and transparency will help you do the same with your patients. These are key factors to growing an independent orthopedic practice.

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