10 Ways Accountable Care Organizations Can Win the Hearts and Minds of the Best Doctors and Physician Practices

Mike Killeen teaches healthcare marketing at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. He is Vice President of Marketing at LENZ, an integrated marketing company that specializes in marketing physician practices, hospitals, and ACOs.

As anyone working in American medicine knows, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 initiated a tectonic shift in how healthcare is delivered. Healthcare providers are moving away from the old fee-for-service model that rewards providers for ordering lots of expensive tests, office visits, and procedures. And they’re moving toward an outcome-based model, in which compensation is tied to the health of individual patients and to the overall served population, as well as to cost savings.

Think of it as the “quality over quantity” model of healthcare, with accountable care organizations (ACOs) as its most visible manifestation.

ACOs need doctors. OK, that’s obvious, so let’s revise: ACOs need good doctors. Ideally, they want to either acquire or partner with the very best doctors and physician practices. But what if the good doctors aren’t interested?

The thing is, good doctors and physician practices may be doing just fine (for now) on their own and may not be interested in joining ACOs. And, at least in larger markets, those who are interested may have more than one suitor.

The best doctors are already delivering quality care, and doing so reasonably efficiently. They run their businesses relatively well. They have established referral networks that keep them booked. They help their patients, inspiring loyalty and recommendations. They make good money. So what’s their incentive to change?

To attract the best doctors and physician practices, ACOs have to appeal to what the good doctors most want, then demonstrate to them how ACOs can help.

So what do the good doctors want?

1. Good doctors want their patients to get well-coordinated care.

The human body is extraordinarily complex. Good doctors have confidence in what they know well and the humility to reach out when someone else will know better. They want to collaborate with other doctors and healthcare professionals to provide the best comprehensive care for their patients. Given the opportunity, they’re usually quite good at it.

Show doctors how your ACO will make it easier for them to collaborate with their peers, working together for the best possible patient outcomes.

2. Good doctors want to develop and maintain long-term relationships with their patients.

It’s not about making friends. Good doctors believe in the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. They know they can deliver better care when they learn, over time, the characters and qualities of their patients that even the most comprehensive electronic health records system could never capture.

Show good doctors how your ACO will strengthen, not replace, the doctor-patient bond, such as with patient portals that make it easier for patients and their doctors to communicate outside the exam room.

3. Good doctors want their patients to practice the basics.

Eat right, don’t smoke, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. Good doctors know that those four practices will keep their patients healthier than any pill ever could.

Show good doctors how your ACO’s coordinated care will encourage healthy habits with coaching, classes, smoking cessation programs, and other initiatives to encourage healthy behaviors.

4. Good doctors want better technology to serve more personalized care.

Data-based medicine should inform a good doctor’s judgment, not replace it. Good doctors want high tech paired with high touch, empowering their decisions, not hobbling their independence.

Show good doctors how integrated health IT within an ACO will give them a more complete picture of a patient’s health and ongoing treatment, informing their judgement as they plan the best care.

5. Good doctors want to focus on medicine, not bureaucratic burdens.

This doesn’t mean good doctors dislike the running of a business. Some of them enjoy it very much and will appreciate — even insist on — opportunities to exercise their entrepreneurial spirit. But good doctors will gladly turn over to an ACO the handling of insurance, transcription, record-keeping, billing, and other administrative necessities.

Show doctors you’ll help them get back to being doctors.

6. Good doctors want to be leaders.

If you bring good doctors into your ACO and don’t ask them to take on leadership roles, you’re wasting a valuable resource and likely frustrating your good doctors. Successful ACOs rely heavily on physician leadership.[1][2]

Show doctors you value and want their leadership, and give them real leadership in your ACO.

7. Good doctors want to be respected by their peers.

Good doctors have studied and worked hard to become good doctors. They’ve earned the respect of their peers, and they don’t want to give that up to become anonymous employees of your ACO. A good doctor is not a commodity, not an interchangeable cog in the healthcare machine. Each brings individual expertise and accomplishments that are worthy of recognition and respect.

Show good doctors that you value them and will promote them as individuals, worthy of their peers’ respect.

8. Good doctors want to have a good reputation in their community.

Good doctors and physician practices work for years to build their reputation in the community, and that reputation is worth a lot. It’s part of why you want them to join your ACO. They don’t want to lose that reputation by disappearing into an anonymous division of a large corporate structure.

Show them you won’t just market your ACO’s brand. Show them you see the value of marketing your doctors and physician practices, enhancing your own brand by showcasing the expertise of your good doctors.

9. Good doctors want to deliver great care to more people.

Fundamentally, good doctors want to help people. They want to deliver high quality care to each individual patient, and, to the extent they can do so while maintaining that quality, they want to help more people. This balance is completely in line with the goals of outcome-based healthcare and the ACO model: delivering higher quality care to each individual and to the population, while controlling costs by finding greater efficiencies.

Show good doctors how your goals are in alignment.

10. Helping the good doctors do more.

ACOs offer all doctors potential benefits, including possible savings-based bonuses and, in some cases, greater job security. Because the shift in America to outcome-based care now has considerable momentum, those who adapt early may be better prepared for the changes ahead.

But the good doctors are looking for more than a steady paycheck, and the good physician practices are looking for more than a lucrative buyout. Ultimately, what good doctors want is what good ACOs want too: to help people with higher quality care leading to better outcomes, and to do so while controlling costs, allowing them to help more people.

What do good doctors want? They want to know that you want to help people too, and that you’ll help the good doctors do more.

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[1] “True Physician Leadership Key to Sustainability of ACOs,” Dr. Robert Pear, Modern Healthcare. http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20141206/MAGAZINE/312069978

[2] “The Power of Physician Leadership in ACO Success,” Thomas Graf, M.D., FAAFP, and Cynthia Bailey, Accountable Care News, Volume 8, Issue 1, January 2017.

Lenz was recently named one of the “Best Places to Work” in Atlanta by the Atlanta Business Chronicle! Selection for this award is based on employee response to a detailed survey inquiring about everything from company culture to compensation and benefits to general corporate morale. After the Lenz team went to work answering honestly and anonymously, the company ranked 35th out of 50 in the small business category.

The Lenz team had a great time accepting this honor and celebrating with the other winners at the award ceremony in Buckhead on September 6.

Interested in working for one of the “Best Places to Work” in Atlanta? Send your resume and cover letter to info@www.lenzmarketing.com.

Save the date for Georgia Smoke’s Sixth Annual Oyster Roast! On Saturday, November 4, Georgia Smoke is inviting you and your friends and family to a fun evening of oysters, lobsters, and more at the Briarcliff Woods Beach Club field.

Buy your tickets to the oyster roast here!

Being a rain or shine event, there will also be authentic gumbo and roasted chicken for non-oyster connoisseurs. You are also welcome to BYOB and BYOOK (bring your own oyster knife, though they will have extras to share).

All proceeds will be donated to FODAC (Friends of Disabled Adults & Children), a 501(c)(3) that aims to enhance the quality of life for people of all ages who have any type of illness or physical disability by providing medical equipment and services to the community at little or no cost to the recipients. The event last year helped raise $4,525 for FODAC and Georgia Smoke is hoping to do more this year.

Lenz is proud to have been a consistent sponsor of the event and encourages the public to take part in this great night for a great cause!

Lenz is proud to announce the launch of the new Avail Dermatology brand and visual identity. Avail Dermatology was formerly Newnan Dermatology, a respected provider of dermatological services since 1990. From creating the name to choosing the color scheme and design of the new logo, Lenz provided its services to ensure the practice’s rebranding captured its high quality and professional reputation.

Check out the new website and collateral below!

Lenz recently partnered with Georgia College to relaunch MakeYourNextMove.org, the school’s website for its online graduate business programs—which include the online MBA, the online Master of Logistics and Supply Chain Management, and the online Master of Management Information Systems degree programs. Take a look!

Georgia College is Georgia’s Designated Public Liberal Arts College.

On Sept. 28-29, Georgia State University (GSU) in Atlanta held its annual Modern Media Conference and invited Lenz to play a part. Representatives from Time magazine, Vice magazine, CNN, Turner Studios, and other outlets spoke and met with students aspiring to embark on related careers.

Lenz media relations manager, Jon Waterhouse, a GSU alumni, shared his multi-faceted journey through the ever-evolving world of professional media. Jon spoke about his years working as a freelance entertainment journalist, an online blogger for major entertainment brands, and a radio personality on Sirius XM and elsewhere.

Saving the best for last, the grand finale of Jon’s speech featured details about his current work at Lenz. This drove home his theme of versatility. As media relations manager, Jon not only develops media strategy and places Lenz clients in the media, he also assists with Lenz-related events, serves as a guest host on Lenz-owned radio shows, and more.

From coding to designing complete websites, the Lenz’s Interactive team is able to do it all. A recent project of the interactive department has been to switch out client sites using Google Custom Site Search to one powered by Solr instead.

Google Custom Site Search is great. It’s simple to use and since it has Google’s search ability, it pulls up smart search results rather than “dumb word search,” meaning that it’s able to analyze the site’s content and rank the order in which it’s listed so the user can find what they’re looking for instead of having irrelevant pages pop up that happen to include the search term. SouthCoast Health’s website is a great example of how Google Custom Site Search pulls up results for users:

So, why stop using Google Custom Site Search? Well, Google decided to discontinue the paid version of this service in April 2017. When a subscription runs out, the account is downgraded to the free version and its mandatory ads. With the news, the Lenz interactive team got busy looking at alternatives.

The free version of Google Custom Search displays ads above the results.

After heavy consideration, the team decided to switch to using the Solr search platform. Though more complicated to set up and not as smart as the Google Custom Site Search, Solr has “learning to rank,” or LTR, capabilities as well. These ranking capabilities paired with Solr’s robust schema flexibility gives the website developer complete control over how search results are pulled up – even more control than what Google offered!

Though implementing Solr’s search platform is time consuming, Lenz’s interactive team continues to work hard to ensure all our clients’ websites have smart, fully functioning search engines that’ll point users in the right direction.