Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Happy Anniversary!

Two years ago today I left my secure but overworked job as a staff physician in a managed care organization and opened a solo family medicine office ala the Gordon Moore hi-tech, low overhead model.

As I've pointed out before, my practice is atypical of most solo practices (even for a Gordon Moore-type practice) so this should not dissuade anyone who might be thinking of going solo. Most of the solo physicians that I know of who are trying this model generate a higher income than me. I am fortunate to have a spouse (Hi, honey!) who has a well-paying job so that I have the luxury of being able to grow my practice slowly. So that being said, here are my current statistics (last year's numbers in parentheses):
Unique patients seen since practice opened: 523 (201)
Patient visits: 1194 (357)
Average # visits per week: 18.1 (14)
M:F ratio: 49.5% male, 50.5% female
Average age: 37.7 years old
Oldest patient: 97 years old
Youngest patient: 2 months old
Sources of patients: Word of mouth 32%; Relatives of current patients 22%; Insurance provider list 19%; Paid advertisements 7%.
Payor mix: PPO insurance 81%, Cash 15%, Medicare 4%, HMO 0%
Average charge per visit: $133.73 ($114.27)
Average payment per visit: $74.31 ($70.06)
Total charges: $112,400 ($40,785)
Total collections: $54,976 ($17,515)

Bottom line, my practice continues to grow slowly but steadily. I have a fairly young patient panel which explains why I've only had to admit 5 patients in the past 2 years. This means very few phone calls in the middle of the night, but I still need 3 more hospitalizations to upgrade my hospital staff privileges from provisional to active. I'm pretty sure I made a profit this past year, but not a big one. This year should be even better. Everyone has said it takes 2-3 years for a new practice to become profitable, so I seem to be on pace.

Medical practices have a life cycle, too. As another solo doctor has observed, "I do remember this major all-consuming time of figuring out how to open the practice, followed by the major all-consuming job of figuring out how to bill, make appointments, get efficient, feed the family, survive. Now, it's just figuring out how to keep up efficiently with the health needs of over 1000 people." I am at the "get efficient" stage.

Time to get to work.