It’s not just patient needs that can overwhelm a physician private practice. Recordkeeping, regulatory compliance and all the information that fits on office forms can be a burden on physicians trained to keep patients healthy, not just to keep records.
In an episode of the “AMA Steps Forward® Podcast,” family physician Carolynn Francavilla Brown, MD, discusses the AMA’s new collection of templated forms for private physician practices that address patient, employee and administrative needs—including the dreaded need to keep records and maintain compliance with regulations.
Dr. Francavilla Brown learned the hard way. Starting a private practice just out of residency, she found herself swamped with forms and records requirements.
“One of the things that happens in medicine is that that there are always new legislation, policies and updates—and when we are busy doing the day-to-day of taking care of patients, it can be hard to keep up,” she said on the podcast. Listen to the episode on the go on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or anywhere podcasts are available.
Dr. Francavilla Brown felt compelled to keep up with changes in regulation as well as the evolution of medicine.
“Keeping up to date is something that I found a challenge for my practice. When I interacted with other physicians, they always wanted to double-check, see someone else’s form and what they are using,” said Dr. Francavilla Brown, who practices in Lakewood, Colorado. She also is chair-elect of the AMA Private Practice Physicians Section, which seeks to preserve the freedom, independence and integrity of private practice.
“We’re not lawyers. We are not experts at creating forms. We want to focus on taking care of patients,” she said.
The result was an AMA project led by Dr. Francavilla Brown to aggregate the most commonly used business and medical forms and create an appendix (PDF) to the AMA STEPS Forward® Private Practice Playbook. Together, she and the AMA’s experts organized information and resources to help physicians navigate medical practice business operations and efficiency solutions to create and support a thriving business.
The playbook includes four categories of forms that can be printed for use with your medical office.
- New patient packet, with health-plan information and beneficiary forms, privacy forms and HIPAA documents as well as patient history, surprise billing and telehealth consent forms.
- Patient documents, with information on practice financial policies, payment plans and price lists.
- Administrative documents, including daily payment forms, patient sign-in forms and medication logs, as well as refund request and other financial forms.
- Employee documents, including employee performance reviews, time-off and expense-reimbursement forms, job descriptions and hiring forms.
- New hire documents, including various employee-consent forms for drug screening, payroll deduction, vaccination requests and other employee records requests.
The playbook also includes a how-to guide with advice and tips on using the sample forms. Documents are in Microsoft Word format and easy to customize for your practice. They have been reviewed by the AMA’s legal staff for accuracy and timeliness.
Resources for new and old practices
Dr. Francavilla Brown said the appendix is a great resource for newly formed physician private practices.
“You might bring that collection to a local lawyer to make sure they are following specific statutes in your state,” she noted, “but then you have a really strong basis of forms” for your office use.
For established private practices, the appendix can be a resource with which to review what is already to make sure they are the most up to date.
It takes astute clinical judgment as well as a commitment to collaboration and solving challenging problems to succeed in independent settings that are often fluid, and the AMA offers the resources and support physicians need to both start and sustain success in private practice.