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Patient-centric practice: "meeting the patients where they live"

Social Media in Healthcare

Organizational techniques for healthcare


Consultant, Speaker, Writer and Contract (Interim) Manager with 25+ years of experience in for-profit and not-for-profit public and private healthcare entities.

Special expertise in:

  • Revenue Cycle Management and Improvement - increasing productivity and captured charges, streamlining processes, work division
  • Billing Service - contracting and protocol for getting into or out of a billing service agreement or improving communication and performance
  • Electronic Medical Record (EMR) negotiation, implementation and protocol development
  • Practice Startup or New Service Line Development from soup to nuts
  • Marketing, Traditional and Social Media - search engine ranking and blogging, marketing plans and budget
  • Compliance and Risk Management Strategies - customer service, fraud and embezzlement audits, practice risk assessment
  • Foundation Documents including Practice Handbooks, Protocols, Job Descriptions and Employee Evaluations
  • Interim Management of primary care and specialty practices, rural health centers, wound care centers, ASCs, hospitalists, central billing offices and most other healthcare organizations.
  • Medical Sales - understanding medical practice operations and workflow and achieving success in selling to medical practices

Work experience

Aug 2011Present

Interim Director of Coding


Engaged to provide organizational support for a remote coding team.

Nov 2010May 2011

Practice Administrator

Bariatric Specialists of NC, Cary Surgical Specialists, and MacGregor Sleep Lab


  • Established a practice cloud to house mission-critical documents, personnel folders, the daily schedule for 10 days out and numerous other uses.
  • Upgraded PM system and moved it offsite
  • Negotiated and installed Electronic Medical Record
  • Introduced the bariatric service line to two new communities
  • Installed a patient portal for online billpay, electronic registration, electronic payment plans and referral portal for incoming and outgoing referrals
  • Ramped up a failing IT system by locking it down, installing a superior firewall, establishing protocols and required HIPAA documentation
  • Started a texting pilot for bariatric patients sending them encouraging and helpful messages 7 days before and 7 days after their procedure
  • Initiated a program to identify and audit charts, and input registry data for bariatric surgeries in preparation for accreditation site visit
Jun 2009Nov 2010

Practice Administrator

Halifax Regional Medical Center

Responsible for managing, recruiting, improving and financially stabilizing hospital-sponsored physician groups including hospitalists, primary care, cardiology, gastroenterology, rheumatology, wound care, occupational medicine, and indigent medicine, as well as the Physician Billing Office.


  1. Reduced Accounts Receivable from over $6M to less than $1M by:
    • retraining staff,
    • implementing pre-visit co-pay collection and TOS collection for deductibles and co-insurance,
    • introducing online bill pay and electronic payment plans,
    • leveraging hospital information for financial status changes and new payer source,
    • ascertaining charity care balances, and
    • establishing best practices and benchmarks for the Physician Billing Office.
  2. Re-engineered largest primary care practice resulting in:
    • increasing provider productivity and satisfaction,
    • reducing phone and fax volumes,
    • establishing HIPAA-compliant workflow, and
    • resolving long-standing PM issues.
  3. Built foundation for medical home concept by:
    • establishing provider/nurse teams,
    • implementing color-coded chart system for prioritizing provider tasks,
    • establishing a protocol for same day visits, and
    • initiating a virtual receptionist program to ensure all care-related phone calls are answered by a live person.
  4. Administratively operationalized the hospitalist program by:
    • developing a framework for hospitalist scheduling, communication, billing, compensation, and workflow,
    • establishing the standard of administrative presence at morning report for problem-solving and team building.
Nov 2007Feb 2009

Chief Operating Officer

Orthopedics International, Ltd., P.S.

Financial and operational responsibility for physician-owned practice with 15 providers in orthopedics and plastic surgery, 4 clinic sites, MRI Center, Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) and $15M annual revenue.


  1. Created front-end collection program, hired and trained two financial counselors to work with patients creating payment plans prior to scheduling tests and surgery.
  2. Established a budget, implemented a payables strategy to average out payroll and expenses, launched an overhead reduction program to evaluate all variable costs, and restructured purchasing program using purchase order numbers.
  3. Integrated two solo physicians into the practice, and transitioned two physicians out of the practice, managing bank accounts, retirement plans, billing and staffing plans.
  4. Designed work flow, cabinetry and finishes for 13,000 square foot 2-floor facility ($885K) and coordinated the move of the central office and Seattle clinic over a weekend.
  5. Formed new management team and established a standard for communication, promoting consistency and chain of command in the practice.
Oct 2005Nov 2007

Regional Vice President, Clinic & Outpatient Services


Responsibility for operational and financial management of hospital-owned practices including family medicine, internal medicine, behavioral health, OB/GYN, general surgery, orthopedics, wound care program, Coumadin clinic, diabetes wellness (nutrition, foot/nail clinic, group education visits) as well as hospital imaging and cardiac rehabilitation and rehabilitation (PT, OT, ST.)  Partnered with VP of Medical Affairs to recruit physicians (locums, contract and permanent) and allied health professionals (x-ray, physical therapy, and RNs.)


  1. Improved Patient Satisfaction scores 4.6% by establishing RN Advocate program to  address patient concerns and medical questions; co-chairing Patient Council and organizing monthly speakers of interest and addressing community concerns; personally handling patient complaints and consulting with physicians on resolutions; co-producing quarterly health newsletters for patients, and speaking at numerous functions and community events about clinic changes and ideas behind Family Medicine Center.
  2. Addressed access problems of a rural retirement town where new patients were moving to the area faster than doctors could being recruited.  A clinic information line was established for new patients to hear which doctors were available and make a choice, connecting the patient directly to the scheduler.  This strategy resulted in a 32% reduction in patient phone calls related to scheduling.
  3. Designed, furnished, and developed new protocols for a patient-centric 12,000 square foot Family Medicine Center.  Patient-centered concepts included confidential check-ins, front-loaded patient areas, healing colors, sights and sounds, patient-friendly finishes and personalized signage.
  4. Initiated "train the trainer" sessions for volunteers to teach patients how to use Personal Health Record (PHR) software.
  5. Established staff education curriculum and "learn and earn" retention staffing model to encourage staff to continue to grow professionally and financially.
Mar 2003Jul 2005

Practice Administrator

The Southeastern Heart & Vascular Center

Operational responsibility for 2-site, 14-provider cardiology practice with ancillary lab comprised of nuclear medicine, echocardiography, peripheral vascular testing and treadmill testing.


  1. Increased referrals to ancillary lab by 51% by launching a marketing campaign targeted at local primary care physician practices and their scheduling staff.
  2. Evaluated and negotiated for practice management computer system, managed the training process, and facilitated the implementation and go-live.
  3. Developed the practice's first website and introduced the idea of a single home page for patients, referrers and staff to enter individual portals; introduced the use of for patient satisfaction.
  4. Established a process for screening patients for sleep disorders in conjunction with the Cardiac Catheterization/Sleep Laboratory in the same building.
  5. Started an extern training program with two vocational colleges.
  6. Built practice infrastructure including management team, job descriptions, personnel handbook, annual evaluations, monthly staff meetings, and work processes and protocols.
Dec 1998Apr 2003

Chief Operating Officer

Eagle Physicians & Associates

Operational responsibility for 85+ provider group at 14 sites.  Specialties included family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, geriatrics, rheumatology, cardiology, gastroenterology, hospitalists, and urgent care.  Additional responsibilities included IT Department, Quality Improvement Department, Central Laboratory and Central Billing Office.


  1. Re-engineered Central Billing Office, increasing net collections from 86% to 98% while reducing cost of billing center to 4.5% of revenue.  Expanded scope of existing department to include charge posting, automated CPT/ICD-9 matching, customer service call center, evening check posting crew, collections, electronic remittance, quality assurance program and patient satisfaction program.
  2. Took organization from an externally-supported IT model, to a 4-person department supporting 300 users, effectively reducing IT expense per user, improving stability of system and better positioning the group for growth.
  3. Initiated and taught a Supervisor's education program to educate middle managers about HR, team-building and leadership.
  4. Created the practice's first website, staff intranet and online payment portal.
  5. Established and managed the practice's first Urgent Care, managing mandatory physician scheduling and teaching residents CPT/ICD-9 coding and encounter form completion.
  6. Expanded Site Administrator forum to include group problem-solving, cross-mentoring and  benchmarking.
Nov 1993Dec 1998

Practice Administrator

Greensboro Surgical Associates

8-physician general surgery group which merged with Triad Surgical Associates in 1999 to become Central Carolina Surgery.

Apr 1987Nov 1993

Practice Administrator

Guilford Neurologic Associates, Inc.

7-physician nuerology practice with EEG, EMG, NCV, massage therapy and biofeedback therapy.


Reginald Knight, MD

Mary Pat Whaley, FACMPE was the Chief Operating Officer for Orthopedics International, Ltd., P.S. from November 2007 through February 2009.We specifically recruited Mary Pat to take our practice "to the next level" -- to help us develop a solid foundation for future growth.  Mary Pat jumped in immediately, conducted a practice-wide audit, reduced expenses, developed a number of effective operational and accountability systems, and implemented a detailed budgetary process.  Mary Pat also formed a management team, trained the practice's middle managers, put in place numerous process improvements and continued to reduce overhead expenses incrementally each month.  Most recently, she did an outstanding job moving one of our clinics to a new space, after being instrumental in choosing the furniture, fixtures and equipment for the space, keeping to a strict budget and opening the new clinic on time.The physicians of Orthopedics International wholeheartedly recommend Mary Pat for any Practice Administrator, Chief Operating Officer, or other healthcare position that she applies for.  She is hard-working, dependable and ethical, and will bring value to any organization she joins.

Libby Knollmeyer, MT

Mary Pat is the most organized, talented COO for whom I've ever worked. She has great vision, a unique ability to think outside the box, and great skill in developing creative solutions to sticky problems and obtaining consensus from those involved. Her management skills are exceptional; she has an indepth knowledge of billing and of finance; her communication skills are superb. She has a talent for taking diverse personalities and bringing them together as a team with common goals and purposes. She is an exceptional mentor to those under her. I consider myself fortunate to have had the experience of working with Mary Pat, and learned a lot from her. My success as an independent consultant is due in great part to what I learned working with Mary Pat at Eagle.

Mary Rose Cunningham, MD

Mary Pat is one of the major reasons I came to Orthopedics International as a junior partner physician. She has made tremendous changes in the company which have been invaluable.She has instituted changes in our financial structure which have made accountability key and are benefiting us in this tough economic climate. She has transformed our workplace by hiring well qualified go-getters and created an environment where people are held accountable for their work and logical, well thought out guidelines are followed. She has led us through some tough times with reorganization of our company. Mary Pat will be an invaluable asset to any organization she joins, especially in these difficult economic times.




Excels in internal and external marketing, including:   Branding Printed advertisements including direct mail Newspaper Inserts Public Service Announcements Health Fairs Radio advertising Television advertising Website development and SEO Facebook Facebook advertising Twitter LinkedIn Blogs Press releases New Service Line Introductions New Physician and Provider Introductions Open Houses, Patient Appreciation Events, Groundbreakings Speakers Bureau Meet and Greets Currently a member of The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Advisory Board.
Prolific writer of articles, books and reviews. Regular columnist for industry magazines. Created in 2008 to provide free resources and information to medical practice managers. Has written more than 500 articles and entries, eliciting a following that includes over 1000 subscribers and over 10,000 unique visitors per month. Named "Top 10 Healthcare Blogger" in 2010 by FierceHealth. As one reader wrote: "(Mary Pat's) writing is clear, concise and even sometimes entertaining.  What I appreciate most is that she is not an academic, she is in the trenches every day and writing about her real experiences while providing additional insight from a variety of interviews with other healthcare experts to round out her postings."