Practice Management: Writing on the Wall
C.P. Kaiser, Editor
One need only read the titles of the practice management sessions at ACC.11 to know the hot topics. They include healthcare reform, uncertainty, liability, accountable care organizations, innovative models, leadership, practice integration and new coding, to name a few.

The clinical research at the ACC scientific sessions is always exciting, but the meeting also is a chance for cardiologists, cardiology leaders and allied health professionals to dig deeper into the challenges and solutions regarding the practice of cardiovascular medicine. And those challenges are many.

The economic downturn has forced practices and facilities alike to reduce overhead and staff, and delay new equipment purchases and new service line strategies. The uncertainty in reimbursement has been felt by the profession, not only with current cardiologists, but with those perhaps considering entering the field. Cardiology leaders have expressed concern that a seemingly bleak picture of the specialty could impede the choice of medical students from entering the field.

Some areas of cardiology, such as SPECT imaging, have been hit especially hard regarding reimbursement cuts. Other areas, such as hospital readmissions, are undergoing wholesale changes in the way that payors and government agencies look at the problem. Payment seems to be heading toward a bundled system based on the continuum of care, rather than volume based.

All these changes require everyone in cardiology to be aware of potential successful ways to approach the challenges and frame them in a long-term way that does not allow the uncertainty to disrupt practicing quality medicine that is also profitable.

While you will no doubt attend many interesting and exciting clinical sessions at ACC.11. you would be wise to make room for sessions that examine the very nature of practice management in minute detail. After all, if your practice or service lines aren't viable, what good will the latest clinical trial results do for you?

C.P. Kaiser
Editor of Cardiovascular Business