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MGMA19 Session Spotlight: Cameron Cox on market research and consumer-focused approaches for independent providers

News Article - August 5, 2019

Marketing/Social Media

Patient Engagement

Andy Stonehouse MA
Competition and an ever-changing era of consumer-centric focus in healthcare are new challenges for independent practices and their providers to face, according to Cameron Cox III, MHA, FACMPE, chief executive officer, MSOC Health.
“For a lot of doctors, when they started out, the only competition may have been another doctor down the street,” Cox said. “Today, the competition exists with Walmart” and big companies expanding into telehealth across the country. “You no longer have to compete with [only] the other provider in town, so you’re going to have to run it like a business.”
While doctors tend to be driven and patient-oriented in their approach, not every physician is trained to be a successful businessperson, and Cox explained that the current business environment means healthcare professionals may need to change their approach — a point he plans to explore in-depth during his Independent Practice Preconference session Sunday, Oct. 13, at MGMA19 | The Annual Conference.
That begins with actually understanding your market, Cox said. “What does your patient/consumer/customer want? I tend to use the word ‘customer’ more than I do ‘patient’ or ‘consumer,’ and a lot of physician practices inherently get upset about that — particularly those who have been at it for a long time,” Cox said. “A portion of our practices are commodity based versus relationship based. When we first understand and accept that, we can begin to change our business culture to meet the need of the patient.”
A key step is to set goals and not simply believe that having a medical degree is no longer a surefire step to building a business.
“What is it that you hope to accomplish?” he asked. “Do you want to stay independent? And if you do, what are you willing to do to get there?” Cox said. “Coming out of med school 20-plus years ago, there were a lot of guarantees to success, but I think we’re going to get to a point where simply (graduating) and just doing whatever you want to do is not going to be enough. Being an MD gives you a skill that a lot of people don’t have, but unless you’re very, very niche, you’re not going to be able to just come out, hang up a shingle and say, ‘let’s go.’”
Modern-day independent practice success entails focusing on the patient experience and considering their perspective, he added. “If every physician business owner in America was to start walking through the front door in the morning instead of the back door, you will see an epiphany of change,” Cox said. “When you walk in through the front door, you actually realize and understand the customers who are sitting in there. It will also ensure that no physician in America ever starts late again.”
Market research may not seem like a big part of the traditional medical practice’s business, but Cox said it is vital for understanding consumers and differentiating yourself from other providers.
“You educate yourself, you make yourself motivated to go out there and get that information, research it, learn it and see what others are doing,” Cox noted. “Watch your competition mess up — look at the negative or positive reviews of one of your [competitors] and go solicit information to understand what it is that people are like, and what they enjoy,” he noted.
And while an era of instantaneous online reviews might seem scary to well-established businesses, Cox encourages medical professionals to seize on the opportunities provided by frank feedback from patients. The reviews can be a mirror to “reflect on the criticisms and learn from them,” Cox added. “I’ve seen practices begin to adapt when you start seeing the same thing said three or four or five times. Maybe there might be a little truth about what’s being said.” 

Ignite excellence

  • Join Cameron Cox for the Independent Practice Preconference session, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, at MGMA19 | The Annual Conference in New Orleans.
  • For more session spotlights and other content related to Annual Conference, visit The Fuse, the Annual Conference blog.

About the Author

Andy Stonehouse MA
Freelance Writer and Educator Colorado

Andy Stonehouse, MA, is a Colorado-based freelance writer and educator. His professional credits include serving as editor of Employee Benefit News and a variety of financial and insurance publications, in addition to work in the recreation and transportation fields.


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