How do you effectively measure the productivity of every area of a health care office? For example, how do you objectively know how well your receptionist is doing at his/her job? Do you use the opinion of other staff and/or the receptionist? Do you go by “feel” regarding how many patients are showing versus cancelling or rescheduling? These are not objective measurements. How do you monitor the productivity of all areas of an office?
We suggest a very specific management by statistics system that takes opinion and guesswork out of how each area of a practice is doing by assigning a relevant production statistic to act as a guideline for the area as well as for the staff member responsible for the area. Without these metrics, you are operating the business side of your practice blindly.
As an analogy, no doctor would decide on a treatment plan without properly examining a patient and performing whatever tests are necessary to determine the proper course of action. This is all very scientific and requires specific metrics as part of the examination process.
Running the business side of the practice is no different. You must have a means to measure and thereby “see” factually what is going on throughout the practice. Just as you could not drive your car without its various gauges operational, you cannot run a business without having proper productivity measurements to refer to.
Here are some questions you might ask yourself:
- Do I have any idea if my treatment plan acceptance is getting better or worse or if it is even in a viable range? Do I have any idea what a viable range for this would be?
- Do I have any idea if my receptionist is doing a better or worse job of keeping patients to their schedule, other than “it seems busier”?
- Do I have any idea if our recall procedure is working as well this year as last year?
I can’t emphasize enough how important statistical monitoring is to the management of a practice. As stated above, without proper metrics, you can’t really see what is going on throughout the business side of a practice.
Another key question you might ask yourself: how do you determine what the correct monitoring statistic is for an area or job position? The answer to that is something more basic, and that is determining what the actual product is that should be produced by that position or area.
In sales this is usually easy to see. For example, the product of a car salesman is a sold car and his statistic would simply be the number of cars sold.
That one is easy. But what about a receptionist in a health care office? What’s her product? And what statistic measures that?
Here are some ideas you can use for this position in terms of product and statistic for a receptionist:
Product: A patient who arrives at the agreed upon time
Statistic: Percent of patients kept to schedule
Product: Sufficiently full appointment book to keep the office at or above its needed production target.
Statistic: Percent of the appointment book filled
I hope this example gives you an idea on how this basic management tool works. If you want to properly manage your practice, you must be able to easily see the productivity in any area or job position and not operate on “feel” or “how it seems”.
Here’s another example – one for your collections area:
Product: Patient fees collected in a timely manner.
It seems like that would be an excellent product for the collection area to accomplish. If the area accomplished this product regularly, the income of the office should be in good shape with very low receivables.
Now, how would one best measure that so one could actually manage the area by a metric? There are several stats that would give you a good measurement of how the area is doing:
a) Total collections received.
b) Total accounts receivables over thirty days (Graphed as a reverse graph with zero at the top)
c) Percent of collections to services.
Needless to say, one would have to use some “smarts” when looking at the second statistical graph as it would also need to be compared to the production in an office. Obviously if the office’s production was rising, the total receivables would likely be rising too, so a comparative analysis would have to be made. The third statistic above helps with this.
The third statistic is based upon a formula that we’ve worked out that compares several month’s collections to several month’s worth of services, with a time factor built in depending upon the type of practice, how much insurance is used and some other factors.
Again, the first thing you need to do with any area or job position is to determine exactly what the product that area or job should be producing. This may take some figuring out by carefully inspecting the job or area in terms of what you really need coming out of the area.
When managing by statistics you not only have a way to look at what has occurred, but you will now have a way to effectively correct and revert “down” areas. If you can see that, for example, the gross income of the practice has taken a dip and you can look at the other statistics of the practice you can usually find out why. You may find that the percentage of kept appointments has been going down. If less people are keeping their appointments, less income will be generated. Now you have an actual target for correction in the practice. Find out what is causing less people to keep their appointments, correct this problem and you’ll get your gross income back into the proper range.
It’s very important to not let a staff member tell you “people just aren’t coming in” or “I’m doing everything I can, it’s just gone down”. That is just an excuse. Look at when the statistic started to drop and then find out what changed. Maybe a new front desk person was hired and they are scheduling appointments differently than the old person was. Maybe the front desk person changed what they were saying when scheduling appointments. Maybe you changed your hours of operation and that has affected scheduling. Whatever the case, find out what changed and revert it.
Please note: this does not mean that you take the important human element out of your practice. I’ve heard people say that watching statistics takes the “humanity” out of a practice. These are not mutually exclusive activities! The “human element” is more important than anything else as it is people, working together as a team in a mutually created enjoyable work place that makes a practice a fun, pleasant and productive place to work. But, at the same time, you must also be able to logically see how the productivity of each area and job position of a practice is doing or you won’t be able to manage the practice as a whole and take care of your staff.
Letting a staff member flounder around, not really knowing how they are doing, is not a fair way to treat any staff member. Neither is letting a poorly producing staff member attack in subtle or not so subtle ways a good producing staff member. Having a proper statistical monitoring system in place helps your staff know how they are doing and protects the good producers. That makes a happy and productive place to work.
The practice Solution Magazine is published by www.silkinmanagementgroup.com