With very long waitlists for many practices and difficulty recruiting more practitioners, it is essential to focus on measuring and improving efficiencies. What data should you look at, how do you know if you are operating at your optimal capacity, and what can you do to improve your outcomes?
Rachel McMahon is a business coach working with private practices. Here, she shares her insights with Power Diary on practical ways to increase practice efficiencies.
If You Have a Long Waitlist, What Are You Doing to Manage It?
Between the COVID pandemic and increased government rebates, demand for allied health services has more than doubled [in some areas]. As a result, private practices have experienced rapid recent growth and new challenges, such as the ethical, legal and moral challenges that arise from managing extensive waitlists.
Shortages in resources such as skilled staff mean that traditional expansion is no longer possible. Instead, private practices must improve efficiencies such as increasing practitioner productivity to elevate capacity and ultimately serve more clients. Of course, this will also help increase the often very small financial profit margins that private practices hold… but how do you actually go about doing it?
Increasing Administrative Efficiencies
A common method I employ to help practices improve efficiency is to reduce the manual work for administrative staff. Reducing this burden frees up essential resources for the practice and ensures that a practice’s operations are intelligent and intuitive. Power Diary makes this easy. Some examples of simple changes a practice can make include:
- Using digital technology to streamline and automate processes such as: the booking process; digital intake paperwork and forms; appointment reminders; payment processing.
- Connecting systems together where possible (such as integrating Power Diary with bookkeeping or marketing software).
- Tracking time to understand time usage and identify how to improve productivity and allow time to focus on higher priorities.
An efficiently managed administrative team will reduce unnecessary headcount expenses and result in a better experience for both staff and clients.
However, this is just the beginning.
Increasing Practitioner Productivity
Increasing practitioner productivity will increase the capacity of your clinic, allowing more clients to be serviced. It also has a direct impact on your profit margins.
However, before you can look at increasing practitioner productivity, you need to have a good understanding of the performance of your practitioners, and the “sweet spot” where they are seeing a large number of clients sustainably. Key metrics to consider include:
- Practitioner utilisation: What is the practitioner capacity compared with how many appointments they actually complete?
- Number of appointments: How many appointments have been booked? How many no shows or cancellations were there?
- Client retention: How many new clients has the practitioner seen? How many of these have made future appointments?
These are some of the metrics that should form part of your overall performance dashboard which tracks and measures your KPIs.
Power Diary has created an excellent excel based KPI performance dashboard that identifies which reports can be used to extract these metrics. It also allows you to track and record the data.
How Do You Know if You Have a Problem?
Ideally, practices track and review these results on a weekly basis. Of course, monthly or even quarterly is OK if weekly is not possible. However, the more frequently and consistently this data is reviewed, the more useful for your practice. When reviewing this data, you should consider two things:
- How do the metrics compare with the KPIs you have established for your practitioners?
- What are the trends?
There are potential issues in your practice if practitioners are not meeting their KPIs, which suggests they are underperforming. Similarly, if trends are different from what you had expected, this warrants a review.
What to Do Next?
If you identify an issue, try to understand the reasons behind it and develop a strategy to address this. Some potential strategies include:
- Setting clear expectations with your practitioners around KPIs.
- Review their performance together and acknowledge when they are doing well, and work with them to improve their performance when they are not. Good performance benefits the practice and, most importantly, the clients.
- Encouraging a high-performance culture by sharing learnings and best practices with those practitioners that are meeting their KPIs.
- Using your administrative team to support practitioners who might need extra help – eg drafting GP letters and ensuring records are updated.
Keeping a focus on metrics and addressing issues will nearly always result in improved business results. A recent client of mine used the methodology described here to identify an issue with practitioner utilisation in their practice. As a result of developing a strategy to address this, they were able to increase their practitioner utilisation by 25% which made a significant impact on their waitlist. What’s more, their profits increased by 50%! If you are not already tracking and measuring your practitioner performance, what have you got to lose?
Guest contributor Rachel McMahon is the Director of Business Coaching Works. With over 20 years of experience helping organisations improve business results and pioneer new levels of growth, Rachel helps business owners of established private practices by providing strategic business coaching and consulting services.
For a complimentary discussion about improving efficiencies in your practice and increasing your profits, contact Rachel.