Saturday, February 14, 2004

Happy Heart Day!

Like I've said before, keeping up with writing a blog is harder than it looks.

But I am still here. And not only here, but just about ready to go live. Finally!

So although I haven't been posting, I've been busy. I missed my 2nd target start date of Feb. 2nd, but I only just received my city business license a week ago, so I couldn't have started much earlier anyways. My business cards and stationary will be ready for pickup later this morning. Just in time for me to hand them out at my office's Open House today. I've invited about 60 of our closest friends, relatives, kid's teachers, as well as the entire Kaiser clinic where I had worked for the past 13 years. It's the "official" christening of my new practice before I start officially seeing patients on Feb. 17th. If I have any, that is.

In the past few month, I've also ordered lots of medical supplies from Moore Medical. I had also checked out Henry Schein and Besse Medical, but it was taking so long for me to compare prices between them that I just decided to pick the one that had the lowest prices on the first 3 items on my list, and start ordering like crazy. So far, I've ordered about $2000 worth of stuff. Being a family physician, I've got to cover a wider range of needs than other doctors. I need gyn stuff (speculae, cytobrushes, nitrazine paper, pregnancy test kits), derm stuff (verruca-freeze for cryotherapy, scalpels), cards stuff (Nitrostat, ASA, EKG supplies), emergency and wound care stuff (sutures, sterile gloves, bandages, epi-pens), injection stuff (Kenalog, lidocaine, needles & syringes), peds stuff (baby scale, vaccines which need to be refrigerated, vaccines that need to be frozen), and the list goes on and on.

I set up an account with Unilab/Quest so that I can send patients for blood tests.

Other basic medical office stuff include hazardous waste disposal, special cleanup stuff for spilled "fluids", sharps disposal, exam table paper, gowns. My mother-in-law has been making custom-made patient robes, so I'll get to see them this weekend when we visit her. I got set up with First National Merchant Bank to accept credit and debit cards.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get my HP 6110 All-in-one to scan into my Mac Powerbook so far, despite several days of trying. It prints, faxes and copies just fine, but always hangs when I try to scan. I've read some posts which mention that HP hasn't released drivers yet for the Mac's latest OS X. If I can't get it to work by Tuesday, I'll have to either get a new scanner, or just copy things with the copier, then bring the copy home where I can use my home scanner. But at least I haven't had to worry about any viruses or worms since my Mac is immune.

I've got as much furniture as my tiny office can hold. There is some space on the walls for artwork. I'm finally having my medical school diploma framed, and it'll be ready in about 2 weeks. My application for hospital privileges is slowly making its way to the appropriate committee, and I've been told to come in on the 26th to pick up my ID badge, and received an invitation to a "New Physician" lunch on March 5th. So I guess I'm in.

I still need to apply to insurers so that I can accept insurance payments. So far, I've only applied to Aetna, because all the others wanted to know if I had hospital privileges yet. Aetna sent me back a provider agreement, but no fee schedule. So I left a message for them to send me one. It doesn't make sense to me to agree to accept their payment for services rendered without me knowing how much I should be paid. Fortunately, I got a provider number so that I could fill out credentialling info online at CAQH, the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare. That way I only have to fill it out once, and the info can be sent to Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and other insurers.

Now I'm up late working on a brochure I can hand out tomorrow at my Open House. I'm also going to give out reprints of a newspaper article about Dr. Gordon Moore and his unique "solo-solo" practice model. After I start, I've got to gear up marketing to get new patients. I've already signed up to do blood pressure checks at the local Senior Center's health fair next month. Plus I've offered to give free medical lectures at the Senior Center once a month. So far, I'm pegged for "Mad Cow Disease" in April.

I plan to place ads in the local weekly newspaper. My idea is to take a photo of various South Pasadena families to show that I can take care of everyone in the family. Since I have no patients yet, I've asked some of our friends who have helped me get this practice going if they would be willing to pose for the photos, and they've all said, "Yes!".

And strangely enough, I received a call at my office from someone who found my name through this blog to ask about a physician for a relative. I had never dreamed that this blog would be a way to find patients. It's barely even read by the intended audience. But if it helps even one person considering a solo medical practice, then that makes me happy :-)