Trillium Family Medicine - Low Overhead Model

February 6, 2013

Dear Cutting Edge readers:

Trillium Family Medicine is one of a number of independent small practices in WNC that are successfully challenging conventional thinking about the capacity of small practices to be financially stable while growing and delivering quality care in a cost-efficient manner. WCMS interviewed owner/solo practitioner Dr. S. Mark McNeill as the first in a series highlighting health innovations practices in Western NC.

Dr. McNeill lives by the credo “Think out of the box and embrace change.” Dr. McNeill’s journey began when he worked in New Zealand in their healthcare system, where average overhead is significantly lower than in the United States.  In the family medicine practices where Dr. McNeill worked thereafter, he became an “electronic czar,” becoming known as the “Agent of Change.” These experiences evolved into the idea and model for his “perfect practice.”  His goal was to establish a low-overhead model right here in WNC, using technology as his key tool.

Here are his tips to his fellow physicians for creating a low-overhead model:

  • Find a robust patient portal that suits your needs and that is integrated with your EHR.
  • Train all of your patients to use the web-based patient portal as their primary form of communication for appointments, emails, information uploads, etc. instead of the telephone.
  • Do pre-appointment interviews via the web patient portal.
  • Review patient information from portal ahead of patient visit.
  • Use secured emails on the patient portal to communicate in a timely manner (same day) with patients.
  • Common issues - such as urinary tract infections, colds, and high blood pressure follow-up - can be ideal for electronic visits.
  • Offer a flexible, open access schedule.
  • Keep lean with low overhead. “This allows you more flexibility on how to run your office."
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use models of innovation that are already out there. Collaborate with other innovators.
  • Embrace technology. This is the key to maximizing efficiency, so build your processes around the best technology you can find.

Got a question for Dr. McNeil? Post it in this blog and look for his response!

Got experience with some of the ideas expressed above? Share your lessons learned with others via this blog.

For more information about Dr. McNeil or Trillium Family Medicine, please visit their website by clicking here.

Can’t wait to hear from you!

Miriam Schwarz, WCMS CEO