ACR/ARP Access in Rheumatology—As part of ACR Education Exchange 2023, the ACR/ARP Access in Rheumatology meeting addressed some of the major challenges in coverage and payment that U.S. rheumatology practices face.
Speakers included rheumatologists, rheumatology professionals, office managers and CEOs. The first section, Thriving, Not Just Surviving—Keeping Your Rheumatology Practice Solvent, focused on financial management for rheumatology clinics. In the second section, Optimizing Patient Access to Treatment, speakers discussed obstacles to care related to biosimilars, Medicare and prior authorization.
Keep Your Practice Solvent
The first speaker, Charles Haberkern, MBA, is an entrepreneurial healthcare executive and the CEO of Arthritis, Rheumatic & Bone Disease Associates. In his presentation, Cash Flow Considerations, Mr. Haberkern shared tips from his 25 years of financial experience, advising, “You have to take care of patients first, but if you’re losing money, you can’t take care of patients.”
Mr. Haberkern advised his audience to set aside money to pay invoices when they come due—rather than right away—so the funds can accrue interest while in the bank.
Nehad Soloman, MD, FACR, is a Phoenix-based rheumatologist, a recipient of multiple awards for research and academic excellence and a public speaker for the Arthritis Foundation. In his presentation, Dr. Soloman brought the perspective of both administrator and physician to his analysis of the buy-and-bill model used by infusion centers. Under the buy-and-bill model, healthcare providers purchase certain medicines that require special handling and storage and store them at their practices until they are needed by a patient. Medicare then reimburses physicians for these therapies.
Dr. Soloman emphasized the utility of observing metrics to understand the roles of every person on a team and ensure each person is responsible for their own role. He underscored the importance of resource and inventory management in infusion clinics and advised practices to keep track of drugs by doctor and by quarter to ensure resources are distributed without disparities.
Christopher Phillips, MD, the final speaker of the first session, is a rheumatologist affiliated with Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital, Paducah, Ky. He delivered a presentation on how to operate a successful infusion clinic. He cautioned against making “bad assumptions”—for example, assuming that a practice’s infusion nurse will never leave that practice. “If you only have one person you rely upon, that person is … more of a key employee than you are to your practice’s survival,” so make sure your pay is competitive and your employees’ needs are met, Dr. Phillips advised.