It is refreshing to see a medical practice that is working – seeing patients, the physicians are earning a comfortable income, and they are happy. Now, this isn’t just any practice – located in Benzonia, MI, a rural area, this practice is classified as a rural health clinic, and receives a much higher fee from both the Medicaid and Medicare program. But there are lessons to be learned.
The article in this morning’s New York Times writes of Dr. Rick Nelson, the managing partner and founder of the Crystal Lake Health Center. The clinic has four locations, six physicians and 32 support staff, and has 41,000 patient visits a year grossing $3.75 million. As a federally certified rural clinic, the physician’s income is capped at a “reasonable level”, approximately between $130,000 and $160,000, Presumably, the physicians also earn income from their shares in the LLC that owns the clinic facilities. They have three goals: excellent patient care, business profitability and maintaining a high quality of life for themselves and the staff.
Here, again, this clinic has invested in a electronic medical record system. They contend that they freed up two people who were devoted to pulling and filing paper charts, and reduced two people in the billing office. Having been to my physician recently, an effective EMR system would save him time on every patient, every visit, presenting the “must know” information each time, and flags any preventive and follow-up issues that should be addressed.
Case studies are always good learning tools, and Crystal Lake offers some lessons for us all.