Sweeping healthcare reform initiatives have resulted in a quickly changing environment for medical practitioners, where adaptability is the key to surviving and thriving.
These changes present operational challenges and place demands on healthcare providers that can only be addressed by applying methodologies designed to respond to a performance-driven compensation model that has become prevalent among healthcare providers. Medical doctors, hospitals, and other providers are challenged with having to deliver improved efficiencies in terms of time and resource management, while maintaining the highest levels of patient care and customer care.
This environment has led to an increased focus on metrics-based practice management. Knowing what to measure, how to measure it, and how to make responsive changes based on patient feedback is at the very heart of running a successful medical practice. (Take a look at how smart practices are capturing data at the point of care to improve their metrics-based practice management.)
For doctors, clinics, and hospitals to provide the best possible services to their patients while meeting new standards of management and maximizing profits, they must set clear objectives with results that can be tracked and improved upon. Furthermore, these objectives must be monitored and tackled comprehensively instead of assessing each as individual metrics in a silo. The impact that one metric might have on others needs to be taken into account, anticipated, and dealt with by maintaining awareness that changes in one area might have a direct impact on other metrics. For example, providing additional staff to expeditiously serve patients and reduce wait times will have a direct impact on cost, thus affecting the overall efficiency of a practice.
Let’s take a look at four metrics that matter and how to use them to improve patient experience, cost management, patient acquisition, and practice profitability. The metrics we will review today are perhaps the most accessible and easiest to track as well as the most likely to have significant impact on the general performance of a healthcare practice.
Patient Care in the Context of Customer Satisfaction
A quick glance of review sites such as Healthgrades or Vitals is all it takes to realize the essentiality of superior customer care. Even if the greatest levels of medical expertise are provided and available to the patient, it seems like customer service, bedside manner, and empathy are top priorities for the majority of patients and family members.
According to Christie McLaughlin, RN, “There are valuable lessons to be learned and adapted to your practice (from retail customer service model) that will help to create consistent repeat customers (patients) who spread the word about your practice and are loyal to the core.”
The most important sub-metrics to track when it comes to review management and patient satisfaction are hospitability, responsiveness, accuracy, and patient focus. To understand how your practice is performing in these key areas, you can resort to direct-patient surveys, observational studies, or deep-dive analysis of online reviews, with particular focus on keywords that convey dissatisfaction specific to interpersonal interactions.
Additionally, a practice can rely on specific markers provided as part of the online review process. In the case of Healthgrades, there are several categories that are tracked by scores (stars) that will provide a practice with valuable and trackable insights related to customer service. Doctors and their staff should pay considerable attention to the following scores on Heathgrades:
- Staff friendliness and courteousness
- How well provider explains medical condition(s)
- How well provider listens and answers questions
Billing and Insurance Concerns
Barriers associated with billing payment and insurance claims seem to surface quite often on online reviews of medical practices as well as general surveys. Tracking and correcting issues associated with payment of services and submission of insurance claims can significantly improve the reputation of a medical practice, and it will impact the likelihood of keeping patients and their families coming back to the practice time after time.
In addition to reducing patient satisfaction, shortcomings associated with the management of payment have an impact on how a provider relates to insurance companies. Careful and disciplined billing and claim practices must be implemented and tracked as part of a comprehensive practice management strategy.
Facilities and Experiential Care
Doctors and medical clinics would do well to track the level of patient satisfaction in association with the physical elements of their practice. This is particularly important because patients tend to make positive connections related to the quality of care when the care is provided in settings that are comfortable, modern, private, spacious, and clean.
Investing in facility improvements can greatly impact how a medical doctor or healthcare facility is perceived by patients and is a capital investment likely to have durability. Making your facilities hospitable is not only about the kindness, empathy, and attitude of doctors and support staff. Small details such as refreshments, access to sanitizer, entertainment in the waiting room, and comfortable furniture can make a marked difference in how patients perceive the quality of care received. Track it and work on improving the areas that seem to affect your patients the most.
Efficiency and Time Management
There is an insider joke among medical professionals that focuses on emphasizing that patients should be “patient” when it comes to the expediency and timeliness of their care. Unfortunately, poor time management on the part of medical clinics is not just an inconvenience for patients; it is also a matter of cost management.
There must be a careful balance between efficiencies and patient experience. A patient who is ill and is forced to wait a significant amount of time to see a doctor is likely to remember the experience as a negative one, even when the medical expertise provided and health outcome is a positive one. You can track this metric internally, and track how patients perceive you by evaluating your online reviews. Combine the true numbers associated with service delays with how patients are perceiving delays. This practice can optimize efficiencies to address perception first, and later focus on profit margins associated with time management.
While there are other metrics that will impact the growth of review management practices and their performance-based billing model, the four metrics we have discussed above are some of the easiest to track and correct. If you are looking for an out-of-the box solution to stay on top of metrics as reported by review sites, take a moment to see how ReviewTrackers is helping medical practices just like yours.