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Solutions to Physician Executives Being Overwhelmed and Lonely
Episode

Tom Ferkovic, CEO of Medic Management Group

Solutions to Physician Executives Being Overwhelmed and Lonely

Welcome back, Medvalistas! In this episode, we have the honor to feature Tom Ferkovic, the CEO of Medic Management Group and a leader in the healthcare sector, who will share with us what MMG does as a one-stop-shop with several services. MMG isn’t only a management service organization but also offers consulting services.
Tom also reflects on the challenges while working with clients, how MMG helps them from compensation models to productivity measurements, and much more. He also gives his thoughts about physician leadership and why leaders need confidants to talk to and bounce solutions to their problems.
Tune in to this wonderful conversation about independent practice and how MMG can help run your business!

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Solutions to Physician Executives Being Overwhelmed and Lonely

About Tom Ferkovic

Tom is the CEO of Medic Management Group and a leading expert in physician practice management.

In 1999, Tom and Wealth Management firm SS&G entered into a joint venture to form Medic Management Group, LLC – formerly known as SS&G Healthcare – inheriting a few staff members and a small client base via a merger to get the company started. While the focus at the time was outsourced practice management services for small to mid-sized physician groups, Tom saw additional opportunities on the horizon.

Today, Tom has helped grow Medic Management Group to serve over 2,000 physicians in their client practices across 26 states. The company now has more than 100 employees who provide various services, including outsourced physician practice management, compliance plan development, strategic planning, physician compensation consulting, contract negotiations, accounts receivable management, and practice valuation.

Originally a pharmacist and health care management professional by training, Tom was President of the practice management firm Telesis of Ohio before starting MMG. He opened and grew the company to 123 employees and 185 primary care physicians there. Before Telesis, he served as the vice president of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Cleveland; he was responsible for strategic planning, managed care contracting, and physician relations, which led to the start of St. Luke’s Integrated Medical System (PHO) and Outreach Professional Systems — the first hospital-owned, non-staff primary care group practice in Cleveland. Tom earned his master’s degree in information science from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor of Science in pharmacy from the University of Toledo.

 

Outcomes Rocket_Medvale_Tom Ferkovic: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Outcomes Rocket_Medvale_Tom Ferkovic: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Jim Trounson:
Hello, this is Jim Trounson. Medvale is a community of innovative health care leaders and we have our own podcast, Medvale Radio, where we interview our community members whom we call Medvalistas. This podcast celebrates our Medvalistas who are out there making the world a better place to live. My guest is one of those Medvalistas. Tom Ferkovic is the founder and CEO of Medic Management group, MMG for short. If you’re in front of a screen, you can follow our conversation on the scrolling transcription, which could be printed if you’d like to keep a copy. Tom, welcome and tell our listeners a bit about you and your company.

Tom Ferkovic:
So Jim, to tell you a little bit about MMG, so we are a 22-year-old provider side management service organization. What makes us unique is that we’re not only an MSO on the business side, but we also are consulting arm. So we have a one-stop shop for anything that a provider might need to run their business. And we run, and we work in 26 states, so we cross a bunch of different state lines, and we can do everything from revenue cycle to actually outsource management, to help with physician comp strategies, to help with strategy in the business. We just negotiated a couple of strategic deals, both acquisitions for groups and one group that actually decided to exit. So we’ve kind of got a full spectrum of things that we help our physicians, and we’re all one step, and we do everything in the United States. And I’m sure it’s helping providers so that they can achieve their financial goals with the clinical lifestyle that they want. We do this both for independent practices and hospitals that own physicians and don’t have the infrastructure. So we give them the infrastructure to do what they want, the strategy division they’ve laid out, and their culture, and we provide them that, the tools and mechanisms to get it done.

Jim Trounson:
So your clients are often independent doctors, and I suppose that your MSO helps them to stay independent where they may not need to sell out to a hospital or to a finance company that wants to own them and tell them how to practice medicine.

Tom Ferkovic:
That’s absolutely right. So we do help provide them some of the tools that maybe they can’t, either don’t have the time or the capital to put together that allows them to look like they’re playing with the bigger competitors. So the analytics, some of those things and you know, the cool thing, Jim, that I see evolving and so the, for those people that see that these roll-up MSOs that are, that are being spun out are negative, the beauty of that concept coming on is allowing independent physicians who do have a good succession plan, who do have a good vision, that want to stay independent. We, the next generation of this MSO is independent ones like ours that are not looking to roll groups up to sell them again, are able to aggregate them to give them the power of the infrastructure to these larger organizations, whether it be hospital or private equity, and give them access to second-generation analytics, value-based contracting and a lot of those other tools that they just don’t have enough time during the day seeing 40 patients a day, managing their own practices, managing their own financials and cash flow to do it. So actually, there’s a positive to all of this, there’s another generation rolling out, and so doctors will have choices.

Jim Trounson:
Tom, can you give me an example of those experts that you have at MMG that perhaps, independent group or a smaller clinic could not afford to have?

Tom Ferkovic:
Yes. So we actually have an analytics team that will actually take down data, can deliver KPIs based on specific compensation models that the group has. And we also can help them develop the comp models in some cases because of some deals that they have with other organizations, they need fair market value areas. So our advisory group, headed by one of my partners, Ronnen Isakov, helps them in any kind of advisory capacity in the consulting side, everything from fair market value to valuations, if they’re looking at acquisitions or looking at being acquired to compensation models, to productivity measurements, and also we can evaluate their current reimbursement models and manage care contracts from that standpoint. So there’s a lot of areas that, that we use our analytics group with and our advisory site.

Jim Trounson:
Tom, you’re a pharmacist by training. How in the heck did you get into the business of physician practice management?

Tom Ferkovic:
Well, yes, I’m a pharmacist who lost his way. I love pharmacy, I still keep my license. Actually, we even had a little research company that I owned for a while as part of our entrepreneurial spirit. But back in the nineties, as I was being promoted through a health system, I was actually promoted to a position to help physicians, those who won our hospital at the time was, was acquiring. We weren’t really acquiring, we were allowing physicians who had no other alternative to join us in employed-model, and I helped build that model. My only claim was we lost less than anyone else in the nineties, but that’s mostly because we had less money to spend, we didn’t have a bit. Our hospital was not, didn’t, not have a lot of revenue, so, so I had less money to spend. So I got to learn it on the ground floor. And I got into it because apparently I didn’t look down fast enough when all the other administrators look down at their shoes, when the president asked, who can help me with it, but it’s one of the greatest things ever happened to me. And you never know where your career goes, right? And this is kind of how I got into it.

Jim Trounson:
So, Tom, with your thought-partnering hat on, because you do a lot of partnering with these groups as a confidant. So what are some of the common problems you’re running into out there as a perspective partner will call you?

Tom Ferkovic:
So, you know, maybe I can kind of be a little more generic, right? Jim, so a lot of things are changing in our world right now. What I want to do is make sure our clients and our friends, that’s what they become over time, there’s a lot of trust on, that’s built. I need to, I always remind them that leaders which they are, have a set of cards that are dealt to them, and they have to plan. They may or may not agree with what those cards say or who dealt them to them, but that’s their group, their employees, their patients are looking for them to lead. And to lead, we’ve got to figure out what the issue is that we’re doing it. And it may be succession planning, it may be all the noise with all the money in the market that people are throwing ridiculous numbers at them, it may be sorting through some of those things, it may be sorting through a higher front desk people today because you can’t find them. And what are we going to do if we have to increase the salaries to people and how are we going to get reimbursed more? But it’s sorting through and listening and asking them about each one of those cards that’s in their hand and getting down to what can we do and where is it and what’s the real problem? Because the real problem may not be the one that they see or they initially think to, you know, and I guess I’d add one more thing, Jim, because most fascinating to me, and I think you and I and that’s part of what you joined here, you started Medvale, is the other thing that I see is physicians, not unlike other business CEOs and leaders, need confidants to talk to. They need places to go and share with their peers, their problems that they’re having, and then find out that their peers have the same problems and that maybe the jointly there’s some place to talk about these solutions. And they’re not conferences necessarily because those are too big, right? To sit in a room of 200 people gives you ideas that you can’t maybe share your financials, your issues specifically in a confidential manner. So that, that’s kind of, the biggest problem is helping them lead and reminding them that you are a leaders and it’s okay to lead. And you may not always have all the answers and you can ask other people for those solutions.

Jim Trounson:
Tom, are you finding that there’s a lot of lonesome physician leaders out there, not just during these disconnected times of a pandemic, but just the nature of being a physician leader? Because I heard one say last week that nobody likes me. Now that I’m a physician leader, I’m distanced from my, my own colleagues that wonder whether I’m a real doctor anymore. And then certainly all the suits at the hospital don’t like me because I’m a doctor and I think like a physician who is always looking out for the patient. So it is kind of lonesome out there for these physician leaders, isn’t it?

Tom Ferkovic:
Yeah. Leadership is always kind of lonely. At some point you have to make a decision that may or may not be popular. And, you know, the interesting thing is, though, as you know, you and I have both been in groups as CEOs of businesses where we get support and we’re able to be challenged on our thoughts. So for physicians, there is no business grand around for them right now. I mean, they’re used to taking a tough case to grand rounds or or M&M conference to look at what happened. For physicians, there is no that grand rounds, at least officially. And so we just recently had eight urology groups from all over the country come to, for a couple of days just, just to get together and talk through open issues that they have. And you can just see the energy and the excitement that they get to find out is those physician leaders say, oh, my gosh, you mean, there’s somebody else that I can talk to or I can confidentially tell you this and they’ll stay in this room and you can give me some feedback on it? And I see that all the time, that we’re, we’re all looking for that kind of support or help. And again, you and I have been kind of lucky to have that in our careers to do it, and we’re looking to try and do that, I think both you, for Medvale and myself and a thing I’m starting with called The Physician Boardroom to try and get that off the ground and give them an opportunity to have a confidential place with peers that they can develop trust, that they can talk through issues. But leadership’s kind of lonely, but with physicians, we want to make sure that they know they don’t have to be alone. There’s there’s people to talk to.

Jim Trounson:
So, MMG, as I’ve watched you for a number of years, Tom, is so innovative, leading edge. Anything that you’ve done to pivot at all during the pandemic?

Tom Ferkovic:
We actually formalized our remote mod, our remote practice model, where our employees are working there. So we’ve been able to do a really some good productivity monitoring, support monitoring. And I’ve got to give my team so much credit that they work very hard to keep this thing that we’ve built for over 20 years until COVID hit, to keep that culture, even though we’re not seeing each other, other than most … teams or Zoom meetings. And it takes a lot of work. You know, people are still what we all care about and good people is what make our organizations run, whether a physician practice or our company. And actually, I’ll tell you, Jim, one of the things I’m most proud of stuff is we were just named one of the top workplaces again. So during COVID, with all the remote and all the stress and all the kind of things our employees thought enough of us, that they would vote and make us one of the top workplaces in Northeast Ohio, which to me that’s really important because if I don’t have that with our people, how can I go and tell you what you should be doing? And I think that’s kind of a real important phase. And plus, it’s, we love our people. And so the fact that it validated just kind of makes us feel like we’re actually achieving, we’re doing what we say we do.

Jim Trounson:
Tom, thank you for helping to make the world healthier and for sharing your story with the Medvale Radio listeners. For more episodes, visit us at Medvale.com. Better yet, join our community by becoming a Medvale neighbor, by entering your email and name on the screen. You’ll be the first to hear of the best thinking coming from our Medvalistas. Tom, how can our listeners get a hold of you, and we’ll list that information on the screen?

Tom Ferkovic:
Jim, they can get hold of me by calling myself or texting me 4407590530 or my email address, which is tferkovic, T F E R K O V as in victor, I C@MedicMgmt.com, M E D I C M G M T.com. Thanks, Jim!

Jim Trounson:
Thank you, and thank you for being so accessible to our Medvale listeners.

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Things You’ll Learn

  • MSOs like MMG help independent physicians run their business how they want it. 
  • Physicians need a confidant to talk to, much more than business people or CEOs do.
  • Leaders are often lone wolfs.  

 

Resources