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The healthcare industry is widely considered to be among the most recession-proof industries in the United States.  And while there is little doubt that a demand will always exist for healthcare, there are certainly vulnerabilities that should be watched closely by medical practice owners when the economy begins to slow down.  Practices that contract with high co-pay or high deductible insurance plans, have a large percentage of cash pay revenues, or that perform elective procedures that can be delayed to more prosperous times are among some of the most susceptible.

This topic is discussed in an article from BusinessWeek, and of the most interesting points made in the article is the use of medical procedures as leading indicators of tough economic times ahead.  You just need to know what to look for…

The knees always go first. And the gums. That’s what hospitals, physicians, and dentists say, noting an unusual leading indicator warning them a recession is on the way.

Demand for elective procedures such as knee replacements and gum surgery invariably rises whenever people are worried about losing their jobs—and their health insurance. In fact, the accelerated pace doesn’t seem to start petering until a year and a half later, when laid-off workers are no longer entitled to COBRA and similar benefits that let them pay for health coverage through their former employers. “It’s an interesting countercyclical trend,” says Paul Levy, CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “I only know this anecdotally, but it’s accepted wisdom in the industry.”

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Click here or call (888) 827-5613 for information on a free program dedicated to helping private practices throughout the U.S. strategically adjust to the slowing economy.  Free program runs through March 31st, 2009 and is open to practice owners and administrators of any healthcare discipline.

Tannus Quatre PT, MBA is a practice consultant and principal with Vantage Clinical Solutions, Inc., a national healthcare consulting and management firm located on the west coast.  Tannus can be reached through the Vantage Clinical Solutions website by clicking here.