photo DavidColon.JPGIn today’s rapidly changing healthcare system, staying current is a challenge for any medical practice. At New York City-based Mount Sinai Associates, the faculty practice for the hospital’s department of dermatology, David Colon, administrative manager, is the driving force that keeps the practice progressive.

In the past 2 years alone, Colon helped guide the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 billing codes as well as supervise implementation of electronic medical records (EMR) for the 19-physician faculty practice that sees more than 5,000 patients a month. Both projects kept Colon busy as he orchestrated training for staffers and physicians, troubleshot technical problems, interacted with the hospital’s IT team, and communicated with insurance carriers on claim coding matters.

Regarding ICD-10—which practices across the nation were dreading before it went into effect in October 2015—Colon says, “We went in expecting the worst, but in the end there were not that many issues with the transition.” He credits his vigilant billing staff and good technology with the smooth implementation.

“When you make these transitions, you also have to review your patient and workflow processes, because new technologies change how you work operationally,” Colon says.

Indeed, it is up to Colon to make sure the faculty practice runs like a well-oiled machine. He is responsible for all of the hiring for the practice and has 20 direct reports, including nurses, medical assistants, and office personnel. He also oversees budgets, inventory and ordering, safety and compliance, and keeps a sharp eye on patient satisfaction scores.

“David has improved our front desk staff and made the office more efficient. He’s also always asking doctors for advice on how to improve the patients’ experience,” says Gary Goldenberg, MD, medical director of the Dermatology Faculty Practice.

Piloting a Patient Portal Initiative

Colon says one of his biggest daily challenges is managing schedules and avoiding delays throughout the day. He prides himself on his operational skills and was, in fact, recently recognized for those abilities when he was selected to be a member of a special design team that is implementing a hospital-wide patient registration and scheduling system.

The patient portal initiative is under way with an anticipated launch date of November 2016. While the majority of the design team consists of IT types and senior hospital leadership, Colon says his input is valued because “operationally, our practice has been very successful, and we see a high volume of patients.”

Whether he is leading his team or leading the paperless charge, Colon’s concern is always on keeping patients satisfied and keeping the practice healthy. “David understands that patient care comes first. Always. Therefore, we have a very busy practice,” Goldenberg says.

“My greatest accomplishment is increasing revenue and decreasing costs,” Colon says. “Each year, I come up with a growth plan on how I am going to increase the volume of services, and I create a budget that lowers costs—and I stick to it.”

Though he is running a big operation, it’s the little things that matter most to Colon, like working in a warm and friendly setting. He says his favorite thing about his job is the people he works with, both staffers and physicians. “I look forward to coming to work every day,” Colon says.

And the faculty practice is glad to have him. “David is very responsible and organized. He is always willing to solve a problem, no matter how busy he is,” Goldenberg says.

Marianne Matthews is a contributing writer for Plastic Surgery Practice magazine. She can be reached via [email protected].