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Compensate physicians for online consults

Physician Compensation & Recruitment, March 27, 2008
For physicians eligible to receive reimbursement for treating patients online, participating in online or e-mail consultations may be a straightforward decision. But what about practices that don't receive payer reimbursement for this work?

There are benefits to online consultations that may make them worthwhile even without payer approval. E-mailing patients can save time on minor cases, improve patient throughput, and allow physicians to focus on more complex, and often higher-reimbursing, cases. For some, this could lead to higher revenue even without payment specifically for online work.

And as competition heats up from retail clinics, concierge physicians, and other patient-centered providers, practices that don't offer online access may lose patients.

But physicians' time is a valuable commodity in today's healthcare marketplace. Physicians often receive payment for nonclinical activities such as administrative duties, so they may want credit for productivity associated with e-mailing patients, regardless of payer support.

Conceivably, a practice could compensate physicians for e-mailing patients by assigning productivity to those activities or grouping them with other administrative duties, says Peg L. Stone, CMPE, principal at PLS Professional Associates, LLC, a Cumming, GA-based firm that specializes in developing and evaluating physician compensation plans.. Alternatively, it could classify that time as a necessary marketing expense to promote the practice.

"The money will come from various sources, and it's probably less likely to come from the insurer than anywhere else," she says.


This story was adapted from one that first appeared in the March edition of Physician Compensation & Recruitment, a monthly publication by HealthLeaders Media.