The American Medical Association has a new strategy to generate revenues while helping physicians find good consultants.
AMA Solutions, a subsidiary of the Chicago-based physician advocacy group, has formed an alliance with the Institute of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants, formerly the Institute of Certified Professional Business Consultants.
Under the alliance, a certified consulting firm can pay a $395 fee to be listed in the AMA's national referral network, called AMA ConsultingLink. Each fee covers up to three consultants.
Medical groups can call a toll-free number to get as many as three free consultant referrals, says Kristen Shaver, manager of marketing and sales for AMA Solutions.
The Chicago-based Institute of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants requires consultants seeking certification to have at least three years of experience in healthcare consulting, to pass a five-hour exam, to complete at least 70 hours of continuing education every two years and to comply with an ethics code. The group has certified 275 consultants in about 45 states.
Consultants also must pay AMA Solutions a marketing fee of 10% of any business generated through the referral service, or up to $5,000 over two years. However, Shaver says, the 10% marketing fee might be dropped next year.
Shaver said the AMA will use the fees to cover operational costs; any extra money will fund AMA operations.
The AMA has been looking for new sources of revenues as its membership ranks have stagnated.
The consulting program is similar to the AMA legal referral network, which has operated since 1993, Shaver says. With that network, however, the AMA certifies the attorneys, each of whom pays a $400 fee. Attorneys do not pay a marketing fee.
Michael Cain, marketing chairman of the institute, says the alliance is part of its expansion efforts. The institute plans to widen its base of certified consultants and create links to other provider associations.
"I would hope most of the major physician groups across the country will be using it. There's a large potential base there," Cain says.