Is It Worthwhile to Hire a Practice Management Consultant?

Shelly M. Reese

Disclosures

June 17, 2010

In This Article

When to Hire a Consultant

Although you don't need to hire a consultant to fix every problem, experts in the field say the most common mistake that doctors make is waiting too long to seek help.

"If you think you have a problem, you do," says Kathryn Moghadas, a practice management consultant with Associated Healthcare Advisors in Fern Park, Florida. "If you find yourself reading articles on a topic, it's usually a sign you have an issue that has to be dealt with. I don't know a single person who would read an article on building a practice unless they needed to build a practice."

Although "best practice" groups will seek an advisor's input when they are doing well because they want to do even better, they're in the minority, says Nick Fabrizio, PhD, FACMPE, FACHE, a principal with Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) healthcare consulting group. More often than not, groups don't reach out until a problem has stymied them for a long time. "You look at notes from past board meetings, and you see that the same issue has been on the agenda for the past 4 or 5 months. They've been discussing the same item and making very little progress. They're stuck."

A little self-analysis can help you determine whether you need to hire outside help, says Dr. Michael Guthrie, a consultant specializing in practice strategy and physician engagement. Ask yourself: Do we need specialized knowledge to solve this problem? Do we need an objective, outside perspective? Is the job so big that we need an extra pair of hands to accomplish it? If the answer to any of the above is "yes," he advises hiring a consultant.

"The problem with doctors is they don't ask for help often enough," he says. "There are a lot of physicians out there who are suffering in silence working till 10 o'clock every night trying to solve these problems on their own. They should really think about talking to someone sooner rather than later."

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