Monday, May 24, 2004

I've been busy (and sick)

Haven't posted in a while because:
1) I got sick with a virus (cough, cough)
2) Got busy with a PowerPoint presentation to my daugher's 5th grade class on the respiratory system (hooray for snot!)
3) Was busy writing an article for California Family Physician magazine about practice transformation

I'm up to 26 patients seen so far, saw 3 last week. My last 5-6 patients have all had insurance (Blue Cross) for which I can bill later on, hopefully as an in-network provider. Business seems to be picking up a little.

I met with a marketing/PR guy for the 2nd time today, and he gave me a bunch of ideas on how to grow the practice. He thought the solo practice idea was unique and would be attractive to a lot of people. When I told him that I expected to get to a point in my practice where I would be busy enough to not have to do any more marketing, he laughed and said that I was dreaming. In his experience, you have to keep marketing to maintain business. He likened it to a patient saying "I'm done seeing doctors." after getting a one time check-up.

But he did have some interesting ideas on how to get more people to know about me, such as contacting the local PTAs and offering to give talks to them, or getting to know local real estate agents since they would be the ones to know about any new residents in the area. He also suggested direct mail, which I had considered before, and that I could offer to take local doctors out to lunch as a way of generating referrals. While probably true, it seems a little heavy-handed to me. But maybe that's what doctors do when they're trying to build up a practice.

Recently on the Practice Improvement listserv, there have been worries about the viability of Alteer, an EMR company that many of the doctors on the listserv have purchased. It is an impressive system and I considered getting it, too, but quickly decided that it's $25000 price tag was too rich for my blood. Given how unstable the market is for EMR systems, I was worried that I might still be paying off the loan to buy it after the company went out of business. Instead, I went with SpringCharts, not so well known, but much more affordable at $500 plus another $500 for annual support. One of these days, I'll write a little review on it. It's not a perfect EMR, but for me it gets the job done.

I also bought a domain name to make it easier for patients to find my website. $18 for 2 years is a pretty cheap deal.