There was a time when being "medical director" in some physician practices was an empty title.
"We never had a medical director before and the groups that did, I'm not sure they did a whole lot. They worried about the schedule and helped with interviews," says Jeffrey W. Smith, CEO of Pottstown (PA) Medical Specialists Inc., a 45-physician multispecialty practice. "Now it is important."
The use of electronic medical records to analyze volumes and specific quality measures means that medical directors will become what Smith calls "quality monitors" who use reams of data to identify high- and low-performing colleagues. Those medical directors will be expected to see that those measures are met, and their compensation will be linked to achieving those goals. This breed of medical director will be expected to tell physicians, "Here are your goals. You have to kick tail and make sure we adhere to these guidelines," Smith says.
At Pottstown Medical Specialists, for example, physicians are required to closely monitor patients' hemoglobin A1c as a quality metric. "HA1c's have to be less than seven. They have to have documented blood sugars in their charts. The folks with diabetes have to have a foot and eye exam every year. These are the things that are tied directly to compensation today," Smith says.