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Welcome to another installment of the X-ray Beam series.
As physicians we have spent decades in training and 10s if not 100s of thousands of dollars to achieve that medical degree.
We therefore deserve the best contract we can get.
Too often, however, we just quickly sign on the bottom line when we are presented with a contract, without giving it much thought.
There may be several factors that may play into this response:
- We are overly trusting by nature.
- We are trying to save money by not having it professionally reviewed.
- We are not even aware that there were options available regarding contract review.
Unfortunately a contract issue may not declare itself until much later when you find yourself being bound to what you initially signed so nonchalantly.
Fortunately Jon Appino, the principal of Contract Diagnostics, sits down with me and sheds some light on why it behooves us to fully understand the contract before we sign on the dotted line and become legally bound to it.
[Disclaimer: Contract Diagnostics is a sponsor of this blog through paid advertising only. I do not receive any extra monetary compensation if you use their services.]
Can you please give us a little background about yourself?
I’ve been around the healthcare space for nearly 20 years.
I have always been an entrepreneur, having started my own business at age 17 and another at 20.
While these initial ventures were not in healthcare, they were instrumental for adding to my knowledge base.
My first start in healthcare was after my undergraduate degree with a large pharmaceutical company.
I had many roles in the organization from marketing to training and then to sales contracting/negotiating.
I have many physician friends and they were always telling me about the untapped opportunities to help physicians in different ways – recruiting – contracts – financial advice, etc.
I settled on contract reviews and haven’t looked back since.
It’s 100% of what we do here!
Was there a particular event or experience that planted the seeds for the subsequent creation of Contract Diagnostics?
It was because of a friend, an oncologist, and his experience when he had his contract reviewed by a lawyer.
He paid $400 and basically spoke with the attorney by phone for 12 minutes.
He was told that his contract was ‘standard’ and looked ‘ok.’
When my friend subsequently asked about wRVUs and how the compensation fared, the lawyer just replied, “Oh, I’m a lawyer, not an expert on wRVUs.”
This lawyer basically took on the job, not understanding anything about wRVUs or if the proposed rate was even reasonable with the market.
We thus felt there was indeed a need in this niche and created a company that could answer all the questions one would have around this important process of finding the right opportunity and understanding the deal in total.
One of the first major contracts a medical student signs is that for a residency program.
Many, myself included, were just happy to get into a residency program and signed the papers somewhat blindly.
The rationale was that these are standard “boilerplate” contracts given to everyone so everything must be on the up and up.
Can you explain why this is not a good approach when signing subsequent attending physician contracts?
Physician contracts are far more intricate than a residency/fellowship agreement.
The compensation structures are constantly changing and there may be very important items one would need to know if/when exiting a position.
Statistics show that approximately 56% of physicians leave their first job after training, making it vital to know the “what if’s” regarding ending a job.
Regardless of whether the goal is to stay in a particular position long term or short term still requires due diligence for contract analysis.
We can help you navigate that process and arm you with the right questions to ask at the right time.
Contract Diagnostics is not a law firm.
A lot of physicians may think that just getting a local attorney to review the contract is sufficient.
Can you point out some inherent flaws in that line of thinking?
How does contract analysis by Contract Diagnostics differ from that of a local attorney?
Many local attorneys may have a conflict with your future employer – so that’s number one to iron out.
The other important factor is just the overall numbers – how many contract reviews do they do a year?
We do thousands here, and it’s 100% of what we do.
Many firms sell your information to recruiters or send you to an outside lawyer that does not specialize in physician contracts (these firms then try to sell you investments/insurances).
With the constant changes in physician compensation, market pay, restrictive covenants, etc., it is very important to have a specialist who has a finger on the pulse of these national trends.
While we are not a law firm we do have our internal attorney’s review every single contract – so you do get those legal points covered as well.
Laws vary from state to state.
Is a Contract Diagnostics evaluation available for every US Physician and if so, will it be individually tailored for that particular state of practice?
We do reviews in all 50 states – and are quite familiar with the differences for each state.
However, maybe more important than state differences is that we understand the differences between specialties such as between Dermatology and Orthopedics, Family Practice and Cardiology and how the contracts/compensation should differ.
You get many eyes on your deal here at Contract Diagnostics!
Some medical practices can be highly sought after with a lot of competition for a few spots.
Typically these employers will not wait long for a response after sending out a contract offer.
What is the typical turnaround time from when Contract Diagnostics is first utilized to a doctor getting the greenlight to proceed with signing the contract?
While we are full all year long, we are busier during November – May because of each year’s graduating class in June.
We try to compensate for this increased workload by adding on weekends or late nights so that we do not push reviews out too far.
Our average turnaround time is about 4 days, and the range can be typically 2-7 business days.
We do offer weekend, early morning and late night times to accommodate our physician’s busy schedules!
Graduating residents are one of the most economically challenged subsets of physicians.
At this point of their career they likely have little net worth, and savings, if any, is typically earmarked for the interview process and potential moving expenses.
How affordable is Contract Diagnostics with these newly minted attendings in mind?
When we first built this company we utilized residents and fellows in our focus groups.
It was through these focus groups that the concept of FlexPay was created – which allows physicians to make interest free payments over 5-10 months.
Many of our clients take advantage of these programs and we are happy to offer them!
Does Contract Diagnostics just review contracts or does a team member actually help the physician in the actual negotiating process?
We are able to do both – depending on the package selected.
Our goal is to get you all the information you need to do it yourself, but if you don’t have the time or are unsure if you are able to do it to the level needed, we can handle it for you.
Can you share some real world examples of how Contract Diagnostics saved a physician time and money?
We have many many stories!
Just last night we informed a physician they may be able to roll their ‘tail’ insurance from their current job into the one we reviewed as a ‘prior acts policy’ – we think this act alone may save them $24-$30k!
What percentage of the time does Contract Diagnostics review a contract and advise the client to take action?
100% – while these issues may or may not be ultimately changed by the employer, just having the right way to ask clarifying questions is vital.
This is another component of how we offer help in the overall process.
Any last parting words?
Reviewing contracts is 100% of what we do here- I can’t get that out enough.
We have a simple online sign up that can be done from a phone or computer anywhere in 1 minute.
We have a free consult available to anyone – just reach out to us or hit our website!
If you are interested in checking out previous individuals that were brave enough to expose themselves to the beams of the X-ray, please check them out here.
If you are in search of financial help, please consider enlisting the service of any of the sponsors of this blog who I feel are part of the “good guys and gals of finance.”
Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
NOTE: The website XRAYVSN contains affiliate links and thus receives compensation whenever a purchase through these links is made (at no further cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Although these proceeds help keep this site going they do not have any bearing on the reviews of any products I endorse which are from my own honest experiences. Thank you- XRAYVSN
I wish they had Contract Diagnostics when I was fresh out of residency. I had no idea how to look at a contract and really just wanted to see the dollar amount and vacation time. I didn’t know about tail coverage or anything else. I did hire a lawyer who also charged me quite a bit and also said everything looked normal. Thanks.
I agree, this would have been something I certainly would have utilized as well but I was so naive coming out of residency I was just happy to sign on the dotted line. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Amazing that any physician would entrust the review of such an important legal document to a non-attorney like Jon Appino. I wonder what those physicians would think of an attorney who sought medical advice from a non-physician? It’s a trick question – no lawyer would be that stupid.