Neil H. Baum, MD

Neil H. Baum, MD

Tulane University School of Medicine, Louisiana State University Medical School, Vanguard Communications Group

New Orleans, Louisiana

Neil H. Baum, MD, is a Clinical Professor of Urology at Tulane Medical School in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is also a retired urologic surgeon. Additionally, Dr. Baum serves as the Medical Advisor to Vanguard Communications Group. Dr. Baum is the author of Marketing Your Clinical Practice - Ethically, Effectively, and Economically, which is in its 4th edition, has sold over 175,000 copies, and has been translated into Spanish. He also wrote The Complete Business Guide to a Successful Medical Practice, which was published in 2015. Dr. Baum was the columnist for American Medical News for more than 25 years. Dr. Baum also wrote the popular column, “The Bottom Line,” for Urology Times for more than 20 years. He is a requested speaker each year to the Practice Management Seminar for the American Urological Association (AUA), where he discusses techniques for making urology practices more efficient and more productive. He has written more than 9 books on practice management and over 250 peer-reviewed articles on various urologic topics. Dr. Baum is also the medical advisor to Vanguard Communications Group.


Talks by Neil H. Baum, MD

Managing the Chronically Late Patient

Grand Rounds in Urology Contributing Editor Neil H. Baum, MD, Professor of Urology at Tulane Medical School, discusses techniques for managing chronically late patients. He explains that every practice has a problem with late patients, and it is an issue which can wreak havoc with a practice’s schedule, impact productivity, cause stress to the physician and their staff, and negatively affect other patients who are on time. Dr. Baum recommends creating a written policy regarding lateness, advising patients to arrive early to complete paperwork, and explaining the impact of lateness on the physician and staff. He also suggests seeing chronically late patients at the end of the day. Dr. Baum notes that physicians and staff should listen to the reason for the delay, and give some “slack” to patients who typically are punctual. He observes that doctors must set a good example and make a commitment to being on time themselves. Dr. Baum advises against trying to solve the problem by overbooking, since that can result in significant delays in seeing patients. He also notes that charging patients who are late is difficult and rarely works. Dr. Baum discusses the rare process of discharging a chronically late patient, explaining that the physician must allow the patient several weeks to find another doctor. He concludes that medical practices cannot tolerate chronically late patients and must develop and implement a policy regarding lateness.

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Patients Come Second

Grand Rounds in Urology Contributing Editor Neil H. Baum, MD, Professor of Urology at Tulane Medical School, argues that the best way to make a medical practice more successful is to focus on improving the experience of the employees, putting their needs ahead of patients and finances. He explains that while the “knee-jerk reaction” to the erosion of a practice’s bottom line is to cut staff, equipment, resources, and investments, putting employees first actually leads to greater financial success, since happier employees will take better care of patients. In turn, these satisfied patients will leave positive reviews, driving new patients to the practice and increasing productivity and profitability. Dr. Baum gives several suggestions on how to put employees first, recommending that practice owners start by measuring employee engagement and employee satisfaction with surveys. He concludes by saying that practice owners should “forget employee of the month” and instead try to praise and compliment their employees every day.

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Practice Evaluation

Grand Rounds in Urology Contributing Editor Neil H. Baum, MD, Professor of Urology at Tulane Medical School, goes over four steps to conduct a medical practice evaluation in order to help improve a practice’s efficiency or prepare it for sale or merger. He begins by observing that the road to success in healthcare has become increasingly complicated as regulation and costs have increased, and technology has developed. Dr. Baum then introduces the first step in performing a practice evaluation: identifying long-term goals and motivation behind the practice. He explains that the doctor/owner must ask themselves where they are in their career and consider whether they plan to sell or merge in the near future. The answers to these questions may lead to further questions about how sustainable the practice is without the full time involvement of the doctor, or about how the doctor/owner can make the practice more attractive to potential buyers. Dr. Baum then moves on to the second step: evaluate practice essentials. These essentials include profit/loss statements, patient volume, status of competitors, patient satisfaction, the status of accounts receivable, and more. Dr. Baum follows this with the third step: measurement of provider productivity. He explains that practice owners should determine how productive doctors in their practice are by looking at the number of patients seen per provider during each half-day session. He suggests that once they have gathered this data, practice owners can determine how to make the lower producers more productive. Finally, Dr. Baum goes over the fourth step: evaluate team talent and morale. He observes that staff salaries represent a practice’s largest expense, and he notes that staff are largely responsible for patient satisfaction. Dr. Baum recommends having an employee review every quarter while also holding regular staff meetings and conducting employee engagement surveys.

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Lessons from LEGO Blocks

Grand Rounds in Urology Contributing Editor Neil H. Baum, MD, Professor of Urology at Tulane Medical School, considers five lessons medical practices can learn from the successes of the LEGO toy company. He begins with a brief history of the LEGO company, explaining that it started declining in 1992, but was able to reverse this decline in 2014 and is now the largest toy company in the world. Dr. Baum then goes through lessons for medical practices modeled on the success of LEGO, beginning with the idea of connectivity. He observes that each LEGO piece connects to every other piece, with no piece dominating, and he argues that practices must similarly connect with patients, hospitals, other providers, insurance companies, and the community. Dr. Baum’s second lesson is to build the right team, just as LEGO did a decade ago when it looked like the company was on its way to bankruptcy. He suggests that those running a medical practice ask themselves whether they would rehire each employee in their practice, and whether their doctors and staff are practicing at the top of their licenses. Dr. Baum’s third lesson is to create a clear path, much as LEGO did when they reconnected with their signature block and pivoted away from other products like video games. Medical practices, Dr. Baum argues, should be similarly focused on ensuring every patient has a positive experience. The fourth lesson is to create value based on the customer. Just as LEGO works to maintain customer satisfaction by replacing missing pieces from kits for free and using focus groups to develop new products, Dr. Baum suggests medical practitioners should observe how their patients interact with their practice and ensure they are not making assumptions based on outdated or inaccurate information by conducting regular patient surveys. Finally, Dr. Baum recommends that medical practices follow LEGO’s lead in developing strategic partnerships. He explains that LEGO’s partnerships with Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Disney lead to increased visibility, sales, and profits, and argues that medical practices can do much the same by nurturing partnerships with hospitals, payers, and the community.

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The Future of Medical Marketing

Grand Rounds in Urology Contributing Editor Neil H. Baum, MD, Professor of Urology at Tulane Medical School, gives 8 suggestions for marketing and promoting a medical practice in 2022. He begins by saying that old methods of promotion are no longer effective since the internet has “leveled the playing field” and patients now have as much information as physicians. Dr. Baum then lists his suggestions, starting with embracing telemedicine, which he says provides safe and effective care while allowing practices to reach new and untapped markets. Next, he recommends using video marketing, since people are 4 times more likely to watch a video than read an article, and search engine optimization (SEO) algorithms prioritize video content. Dr. Baum also suggests using psychographic marketing which, unlike demographic marketing, identifies the attitudes and mindsets of patients. He follows this by recommending a focus shift from illness to wellness, explaining that the current healthcare system focuses on symptoms and illness and is inherently reactive, while a wellness-focused practice is proactive and able to identify early transitions from wellness to disease. Dr. Baum then considers the benefits of personalized marketing and personalized medicine, highlighting the utility of the right patients receiving the right messages. He brings up the use of virtual assistants, noting that tools like Amazon’s Alexa can conduct various healthcare tasks, from tracking glucose levels to helping patients with parking at the office. Dr. Baum’s final marketing and promotion tips include carefully managing a practice’s online reputation, and embracing artificial intelligence in healthcare marketing. He notes that a practice’s marketing budget should be about 3-5% of gross revenues, and he suggests getting marketing assistance from firms with medical experience. Dr. Baum concludes that if practices want to be around in 3 to 5 years, they should consider implementing a few of these ideas.

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