American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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Practice briefs

From the October 1995 ACP Observer, copyright © 1995 by the American College of Physicians.

Primary care pay raises level out

Primary care physicians, who overall saw big pay increases just a few years ago, saw their incomes level out last year, according to a survey of physician compensation by the Medical Group Management Association and Cejka & Co., a St. Louis-based consulting company. Their findings were summarized in this month's Report on Physician Trends newsletter.

The average increase in median compensation for primary care physicians (internists, family physicians and pediatricians) in 1994 was only 1.34%. In 1993, their average pay hike was 7.43%, and in 1992, it was 6.34%. These increases were occurring while many other specialists saw their incomes drop.

According to the survey results, 1994 saw a turnaround for some specialties that had experienced declines in median income during the past few years. Physicians specializing in non-invasive cardiology, for example, experienced an average median pay raise of 4% in 1994; their income had been down 10.45% on average in 1993.

The survey also showed that for most specialties, physicians in single-specialty groups earned more than their colleagues in multi-specialty groups. Internists earned on average $5,000 less if they worked in a multi-specialty group than their colleagues in single-specialty groups.

Beware misleading 'yellow pages' solicitations

Physicians are being warned to pay closer attention to their mail. What looks like a bill for your ad in the local yellow pages may not be what it seems.

According to the Yellow Pages Publishers Association (YPPA), a non-profit trade organization that represents yellow pages publishers, physicians are being sent "misleading solicitations" to place ads in national directories. These notices are often mistaken for bills for local yellow pages directories because they use the "walking fingers" symbol, which was never trademarked by AT&T, according to the association.

The directories in question are usually statewide or national in scope, printed up in small quantities and then only distributed to a handful of libraries and high-profile clients.

A survey conducted by the YPPA found that 60% of advertisers listed in these directories did not know that they had purchased ads in them. Physicians are being targeted because they rank among the top 10 yellow pages advertisers.

The YPPA offers the following tips on how to spot a misleading solicitation, which will usually sport the "walking fingers" logo and otherwise appear to be from your local yellow pages:

  • Most solicitations have a reference number instead of an account number (since there are no established accounts).
  • The post office requires the mailings to include the phrase "this is not a bill."
  • There is typically only a mailing address and no phone number on the solicitation.
  • The amount due is usually around $100 and does not typically exceed $150.

To report a suspicious solicitation or to get more information, call the YPPA hot line at 800-841-0639.

Selling drugs through teleconferences

You can probably expect to be seeing more of your drug company detailers by teleconference and fewer of them in person. According to a new survey by Scott-Levin Associates, a consulting company that works on pharmaceutical marketing issues, drug companies are finding that teleconferences are a cost-effective way to get their message across.

Last year, for example, it cost $310 per doctor to run a teleconference compared to $1,050 per doctor to have a large meeting with physicians in person. And 35% of the physicians who tuned into a drug company's teleconferences reported they would start or increase prescribing of the promoted drug.

Doctors surveyed told Scott-Levin that they are attracted to the convenience of tuning into these teleconferences from their home and office. They also said they particularly like it when CME credits are available with the teleconferences.

Forms, forms and more forms

McGraw-Hill Healthcare Management Group has collected 133 of the forms most commonly needed by doctors' offices and has now published them on diskette so that practices can customize them to their own needs.

Among these forms are collection letters, employment applications, weekly schedules, a diabetes health maintenance record and an affidavit to accompany medical records. Each form comes in three different formats: as a blank form ready for photocopying, as a completed sample with information filled in for reference and as a file on a Macintosh diskette ready to be customized using Aldus PageMaker 5.0.

"Medical Practice Forms: Every Form You Need to Succeed" costs $39.95. Information: 800-544-8168.

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