Archive for month: September, 2014

Practice Manager of the Month

Categories: Practice Manager of the Month

The HST team is about “professionals dedicated to the success of medical practices.” Each month, we recognize a practice manager who shares our passion and success in doing this, and provide you her or his advice.

Spring E. Embry
Practice Administrator

October Practice Manager of the Month

Congratulations to Spring Embry for being recognized by her colleagues as HST’s Practice Manager of the Month.

Spring, who has been in practice management for 20 years in the Atlanta area is the type of person you want to work with or work for. “Always be open to change” she advises, “and listen to your staff as well as your peers for those valuable nuggets of information that trickle in each day.” Several people at HST have commented on Spring’s willingness to listen to ideas, then deciding what is right in the practice.

Dr. Daniel McDevitt says, “Spring has combined years of experience in managing medical practices with her engaging personality to propel our team to ever higher levels of achievement.
“Change can be difficult. Spring has made change easy for our practice by her leadership style which allows her to help others overcome impediments to growth. This keeps our practice focused on moving forward.
“Managing a medical practice is never easy. The complexity can be overwhelming. Spring brings a lifelong dedication to learning and growing to the table. She can handle HR issues, billing issues, and patient concerns (to name just a few things) without skipping a beat! She truly is a joy to be around.”

Spring added, “Those who work in the trenches each and every day can provide you with so much information. It is then left up to you on how you disseminate that information for your practice’s good.”

Spring received advice from many over the years. “The most valuable and useful advice I have received over the years is to not take yourself too seriously,” she recommends. “Observe, evaluate and react to the information in front of you. Always remember to not only manage, but lead!”

“I enjoy the daily interactions between patients, physicians and staff. The satisfaction of knowing I’m making a difference by helping create an atmosphere of excellence has been humbling. I have only been with Peachtree Vascular a little over a year and I feel privilege to be part of a legacy of this magnitude.”

Prior to joining PVS, Spring worked in the medical management field for over 19 years in various capacities including Operations Manager, Practice Manager and Practice Administrator. Working in practices for Infectious Disease, Gastroenterology and Psychology over the years, her background in Finance/Accounting enabled her to be strong in analyzing the bottom line and identifying new profitable cost centers. Prior to her healthcare career, she worked in the manufacturing industry as an Accounting/Scheduling Manager with Owens-Illinois in Birmingham, Alabama.

For the times Spring is not at PVS, she and her husband spend a tremendous amount of time entertaining her two wonderful grandchildren, something she “enjoys immensely!” Spring also loves to travel, making every effort to visit all 50 states to enjoy the scenery. Once she has seen all 50 states, she’ll be ready to venture internationally.

Congratulations, Spring!

Need More Time to Work ON Your Business (instead of IN it)? Advisors Say: Outsource Marketing and Marketing Communications

Categories: Articles

Are you wearing so many hats at your business that you can’t walk through the door? We’ve written before – about how many entrepreneurs never develop their businesses to their maximum capacity because, as described in the E-Myth, they spend so much time doing their business’ operations and delivery.

Small-business coach Melinda Emerson revisited the subject of outsourcing business activities in a Huffington Post blog.

“When you can get assistance with tasks you are probably not skilled at anyway, you will have more time for higher level activities like business development and project management,” she writes. “Great leaders know it is more productive to outsource work that is not revenue generating but essential to business operations. Since time is such a prized commodity when running a small business, it is smart to leverage the talents of others rather than trying to do it all by yourself.”

Amen. Two of the activities she strongly urged to outsource, along with payroll, are marketing and marketing communications. She writes:

“Subcontract Your Marketing Efforts: Marketing is the fuel of a small business. Your marketing efforts tie directly to your sales results. So if you are too busy working in the business you already have to focus on closing the next sale, you need some help. Outsource your marketing efforts to a consultant or public relations specialist for your small business. Some marketing people will help you develop downloadable content for your website, conduct email marketing campaigns. Some will focus on reaching out to LinkedIn contacts; they can handle direct inquiries or pitch you for speaking opportunities. They can also develop media pitches and monitor HARO for media opportunities.”

“Subcontract Your Social Media Marketing: There are plenty of solopreneur marketing consultants and social media marketing agencies that can handle developing your social media strategy, content development and social promotion for your company. When you perform these tasks in-house, you often fail to retain the consistency of doing them. I am pretty sure, if you hire the right person or firm, and give them a specific niche focus and strong message about your product or service, your marketing efforts will flourish over time. Just remember that social media is a long-term strategy, so be prepared to invest 12-24 months to achieve your goals.”

Melinda also recommends outsourcing payroll, bookkeeping and administrative support. Niche Labs can help you with all of that through our referral network of trusted partners As a small business, we depend on outsourcing to help our own efficiency, and we know many people who provide a range of services that help small businesses and entrepreneurs get the most out of every precious minute they spend working on their business.

As a full-service agency for businesses that don’t have a CMO or VP of Marketing or that don’t have the people or time to develop websites, manage SEO and digital/ direct marketing campaigns, we can take on your marketing and marketing communications. As part of your marketing team, we can create the channels for pushing out your content and work with you to get the information out to your targeted market.

For more tips and insights about attracting more business through organic searches, connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or subscribe to our monthly newsletter to read summaries of our weekly posts.

Let’s review your marketing and marketing communications strategies or develop them. And while we’re at it, we’d love to talk about your other outsourcing needs and lend a hand there, too.. To speak with our team, please Email us at, call 888.978.9254, or if you are mobile, visit us on your smartphone.

3 Big Differences Between a Financial Planner and an Investment Advisor

Categories: Articles

It’s no secret. There is a massive shift happening in the financial advisement industry. There are so many great opportunities opening up for young investors with smaller portfolios to have access to the same investment advisors and funds that millionaires have access to. Companies such as Betterment, Wealthfront, and FutureAdvisor are disrupting the investment advisor industry by offering low fees. Many people have been asking our financial planners here at HIGHLAND Financial Advisors, why are these investment advisor’s fees so low? Our answer is simple. They are an investment advisor, not a financial planner. Here are the differences:

1. Investment Advisors Only Give Advice on Investments

Sounds obvious right? You would be surprised at how many people believe investment advisors also provide comprehensive financial planning advice. Some investment advisors claim they do so without going into depth about the type of advice they provide. They provide their services for such a low cost because they only give investment advice.

2. Investments Are Only About 20 Percent or Less of What Financial Planners do

Well, maybe only for the good financial planners. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) adheres to seven different subject areas that make up the financial planning process. They include:

  • Financial statement preparation and analysis (including cash flow analysis/planning and budgeting)
  • Insurance planning and risk management
  • Employee benefits planning
  • Investment planning
  • Tax planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Estate planning

3. Financial Planners Customize

Investment advisors will ask you some questions to determine your risk tolerance and place you in a portfolio that is identical or almost identical to other portfolios they have already provided to their other clients. Financial planners with a fiduciary obligation will do something similar for investments, but they will also completely customize your financial plan based on your unique life goals. Whatever your picture of the future looks like, your planner will give you specific, personalized advice that will help you get to your goals in the most objective way possible.

It’s a great time to be an investor for individuals with small or large portfolios. With more and more companies entering the industry the choices are getting a lot better. The gap between an investment advisor and financial planner is getting wider. We suggest analyzing your own financial life and deciding whether you need simple investment advice or a more comprehensive plan to reach your life goals. Which will you choose?

By James C. Gibson, Lead Marketing Specialist, HIGHLAND Financial Advisors, LLC, Huffington Post, 08/29/2014.
Provided by Joshua C. Harper, CFP®, CLU®, of WealthMD (877-Our-MDPlan or

“Interoperability” of Electronic Health Data Is a Unicorn

Categories: Articles

Having spent $26 billion of taxpayers’ money since 2009 inducing hospitals and physicians to install electronic health records (EHRs), many champions of the effort are dismayed that the EHRs are not interoperable. That is, they cannot talk to each other — which was the whole point of subsidizing the effort.

All this money has achieved a process goal: There has been a significant uptake in EHR adoption. According to a recent review, the proportion of physicians who have at least a basic EHR has increased from under 22 percent to 48 percent. Doctors were motivated by the bounty offered, plus the threat of having reimbursements clawed back in 2015 if they did not adopt EHRs. The proportion of hospitals with EHRs has similarly increased from 12 percent to 44 percent.

But what do these EHRs do? What they do not do is talk to each other. According to the same review, “only 10 percent of ambulatory practices and 30 percent of hospitals were found to be participating in operational health information exchange efforts.”

All those billions of taxpayer dollars are paid out to providers who attest to “meaningful use” of EHRs. However, there are three stages of meaningful use. Stage 1 was easy: Plug it in and turn it on. Stage 2 was originally supposed to be achieved by 2013, but that has been pushed back until 2016. The hang up is that Stage 2 has a high hurdle for interoperability.

According to the final rule published in September 2012, requirements include “the expectation that providers will electronically transmit patient care summaries with each other and with the patient to support transitions in care. Increasingly robust expectations for health information exchange in Stage 2 and Stage 3 would support the goal that information follows the patient.”

Despite the delay, providers are still complaining that the requirements are too demanding. According to Russell Branzell, president and CEO of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives: “Now the very future of Meaningful Use is in question.”

So it should be: Evidence from Congressional investigations suggests that meaningful-use bounties have encouraged the adoption of EHRs that are deliberately closed to exchange with other parties. The problem is that exchanging data with competitors is fundamentally against the self-interest of the party which created the data. Nobody would expect the U.S. Department of Transportation to set up a fund to incentivize car makers to exchange data with each other, or the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set up a fund to incentivize grocery stores to exchange data with each other.

That is not to say that there would be no value to such data exchange. If Safeway were out of my favorite brand of breakfast cereal, I’d love for the clerk to tell me that Giant had plenty in stock just down the road, instead of selling me something similar. However, the amount of government funding required to overwhelm competitors’ resistance to doing this would surely not be worth it.

The same goes for health information exchange: $26 billion has not done the trick. It is unlikely that the remaining $4 billion in the pot will get the job done. The Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT has been promoting a ten-year plan for more funding — even a trust fund like the Federal Highway Trust Fund!

Congress should be very skeptical of appropriating yet more funding to hunt this unicorn.

By John R. Graham, National Center for Policy Analysis, September 3, 2014.
Provided by Carl C. Schuessler, Jr., DHP, DIA, GBDS, of, BenefitStrategies, LLC (404-941-5519 or

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