I Like The MGMA, But Not Today.

The MGMA’s blog recently shared with their readers results from a survey they conducted to understand how the economy downturn was affecting medical practices.

Here are the results of the survey:

  • 36.6 percent have postponed capital expenditures
  • 34.7 percent are seeing a rise in uninsured patients
  • 34.5 percent have frozen staff hiring
  • 33.9 percent have cut operating budgets
  • 33.3 percent have improved billing and collections processes
  • 33.1 percent have witnessed a decrease in revenue
Foto credit: Akbar Simonse

Foto credit: Akbar Simonse

I was a little upset and quite disappointed (hence the grumpy old man photo) when I read the post. Not because of the results, but because the post didn’t provide any value.

I’m a manager of a small primary care practice; you don’t have to tell me it is crappy out there.

What is the purpose of sharing these statistics? How is this data helping anybody?

The MGMA had 2000 practice administrators respond to the survey. Why not spend the same amount of effort asking those 2000 administrators what is working and what is not working for them? Surely some administrators are doing well.

If revenue is down, are they doing anything about it? If reimbursement is also down, are they just throwing their hands up in the air and saying, oh well? Unlikely.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather read about ways other practices are managing the increasing uninsured patient loads or how a practice was able to negotiate better reimbursement from a payor than read depressing statistics.

In essence, that is why I wrote a five post series titled “Sharing The Practice Management Love” that talks about the different things our medical practice is doing to remain viable in this economy. I shared it with you all so we can all benefit.

What are you doing in your practice to beat the economic downturn? I’m sure you have good ideas… share them with us.

Editorial update: After I wrote this post, the MGMA followed up with a blog post promoting one of their publication titled “Lesson’s for Financial Success.” I’m assuming they published the survey results with the intention of promoting the tools they offer; which I guess puts the original post into context. But still…

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  1. I found this post because I follow you on Twitter as @healthmedjobs. You make some excellent points. Although I do not run a practice, I run the healthcare division of a recruiting firm. We place all positions in the practice other than the physicians. While I don’t disagree with the statistics reported, I did not find the “Lessons for Financial Success” to be of much help in the area of staffing. In Chapter 5: Productivity, Capacity and Staffing, There is nothing that addresses this.

    I don’t want to monopolize your blog, but I can tell you that the use of a good recruiting firm can save time and money in the long term. The Practice Administrators I work with use our services because they do not have time to go through the hundreds of unqualified, unrelated resumes that clog their inbox. It is worth it for them to have my recruiters qualify and disqualify the prospects before they ever see a resume. When we do submit someone to them, they know that the candidate has gone through our scrutiny first which will greatly improve the quality of the employee. Also, the new hire is considered our employee for the first three months which eliminates any drug and background check costs, unemployment and other liability costs, and payroll costs. After the three months (a typical probation period anyway), they can keep the employee at no additional cost, or we can replace them anytime during that period if it doesn’t work out. The small fee we charge is more than worth it to the bottom line profits.

    With the economy the way it is, every little bit helps. Thanks and keep up the good tweets.


    • Brandon says:


      I’m a big proponent of outsourcing, including recruitment services. Especially when one is a small practice. I’ve talked about it on my blog before. At our practice we use a staffing agency for pretty much the same reasons you’ve outlined. Although using a staffing agency can be more expensive than hiring staff yourself (I guess you can make an opportunity cost argument to that point as well) there is a lot of value that comes with working with a competent staffing agency.

      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to leave a note.



  2. It’s hard not to get mired in the “gloom and doom” of the recession and we admire your focus on best practices. We believe the best run medical practices in the country are among our members. We also completely agree that when times get tough (aren’t they always a little bit tough?) it is MGMA’s role to provide easy access to tools and resources to help practices stay solvent despite the economic environment.

    Financial Management resources are our core business. MGMA has been continually asked by media and key stakeholders in the industry how the recession has collectively affected them. We saw an opportunity in our “Medical Practice Today: What Members Have to Say” research to add a section on the recession. It is vital for us to keep our finger on the pulse of a) how practices are affected by changing economic factors and b) what they are doing to respond.

    While we didn’t publish stories or tips in our blog, in the July MGMA Connexion magazine we had several features devoted to how practices and administrators are coping and overcoming issues. We saw this blog post as an opportunity for medical practices to understand how their peers are faring. Non members can hear a lot more in our podcast with Jim (the project’s lead researcher here at MGMA), who emphasizes we received more positive than negative comments.

    I encourage you to look at the breadth of MGMA resources outside of this single blog post for information on how our members run their businesses better. We truly appreciate the feedback and look forward to hearing from you in the future.


    • Brandon says:


      I will be sure to check out the podcast. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post.



  3. One of Mary Pat Whaley’s blog posts articulates that “a sense of humor” is necessary to be an effective practice manager. I see now what she means! The video hits home for so many people working in client-service provider relationships. I would be interested in hearing some case studies of how in-real-life incidents such as “haggling” are handled.