Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Pamela Baines
Hi Pamela, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I grew up here, then studied outside of Florida and practiced in Ft. Lauderdale after completing my training at LSU in Shreveport, Louisiana. After four and a half years, I got tired of South Florida and decided to come home to Tampa. I opened a solo, private practice near St. Joseph’s Hospital. It was slow getting started so I volunteered at the Judeo Christian Clinic once a week for a few months to keep myself busy. I made rounds to primary care and pediatric offices, bringing bagels or doughnuts and introducing myself. My banker, Ann Giles at the Bank of Tampa, was a great resource. She introduced me to many different people and was extremely supportive during this time. The bank supported a women’s physician group and expanded to a women’s business group, which ended up being the perfect networking resource. My office manager worked for several years in various medical practices in Tampa and was also able to connect me with other physicians to help build the practice. I eventually developed a busy general ENT and allergy practice and, for a few years, was the only ENT in Tampa that provided allergy services. I was not a great businesswoman though, and had trouble making the practice profitable. This is a problem when you have large student loans from medical school while also paying a mortgage.
Dr. Miguel Rivera and I became friends and he would periodically ask me what I thought about joining the practice he belonged to. I worked with Dr. Rene Boothby for years and had great respect for him, so I said I would think about it. Eventually, with the economic pressures from insurance companies, increasing government regulations and the mandate for adopting electronic health records, I decided I couldn’t keep going as a solo practitioner and decided to join forces. That was the best decision I could have made. After I joined Tampa Bay ENT, other physicians came on board and we eventually expanded and evolved into what is now Florida E.N.T. & Allergy. I am able to work with a wonderful group of colleagues and continue developing the allergy practice we have built. I don’t have to lose sleep over the billing and insurance collections anymore, as we have the staff to do those tasks – and do them well.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I grew up believing there was nothing I couldn’t do if I set my mind to it, but making a medical practice financially secure is not easy. As a solo practitioner, you are responsible for taking care of patients all day, 8-5, plus performing surgeries and hospital consults. Along with those responsibilities, I was reviewing accounts receivable, promoting the practice in the community, training and supervising employees, ensuring licenses are up to date, making sure taxes are correct, reviewing coding so billing is accurate, and making sure charts were accurate so that insurance auditors didn’t try to take back payments because documentation wasn’t to their satisfaction. Yes, the office manager does much of the work, but as the practice owner, one is the captain of the ship. It was exhausting and I was not always up to the task after spending my time and energy taking care of patients.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
The physicians of Florida E.N.T. & Allergy have served the Tampa Bay community for over 40 years. Our board-certified physicians and doctors of audiology have completed extensive education, clinical training, and specialized training in their area(s) of expertise. From pediatric allergies to fitting hearing aids, our caring and experienced providers specialize in ear, nose and throat care for the entire family using comprehensive, cutting edge technologies.
What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
As practicing medicine and surgery becomes more challenging, more physicians will look to larger entities to continue practicing. This outcome is due to increasing federal regulations, insurance companies’ restrictive policies and reduced reimbursements compared to the rising costs of doing business. For many, that will mean being employed by a hospital or health system. For others, it will continue to be academic practice. But for those of us who value our autonomy and private practice, consolidation will be the wave of the future. Florida E.N.T. & Allergy is already riding that wave by recognizing the trends toward employment by hospitals. We believe it is essential to work together to preserve our autonomy and control our financial future by providing the care for our patients that we think is best. We have grown our practice to 25 physicians and will be partnering with an even larger group to create a statewide otolaryngology group with over 80 physicians. This move to consolidation is not only a notable trend in my specialty but throughout many areas of medicine.
Published by Voyage Tampa Dec. 28 2020