Leading management thinker Peter Drucker is famous for saying:
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
, which holds true for many different situations, including physician productivity. Physician productivity metrics have become increasingly important as they help to determine policies for budgeting, staffing and more. And, importantly, they’re much more accurate than managing by perception. Some doctors might be very good at looking busy, but if you have accurate reporting in place, the numbers don’t lie.
But when there are so many different measurements to choose from, how do you select only the ones that are going to have the most significant impact on efficiency for the practice, and satisfaction for patients? The most crucial physician productivity metrics, and the ones that a practice manager should be focused on, are the ones that are going to have the biggest impact on the bottom line, both now and into the future.
They can be roughly divided into efficiency and client satisfaction measurements. With these two broad categories defined, let’s jump in and look at the most important metrics:
Your physician’s efficiency metrics look at their utilisation, the number of billable hours, the percentage of their time that can be billed and the revenue that each physician generates. It’s important to look at the different physician productivity metrics together as some practitioners may have high utilisations, but may not be able to bill for all their hours and will therefore not generate the same revenue for the practice as someone with a higher percentage of hours billed.
Five efficiency metrics to consider are:
1. Visit Volume (Utilisation)
This looks at the number of hours in a day that a physician sees clients. The number of patients will vary on the doctor’s speciality and the type of cases that they see. To get a better idea of the physician’s productivity, these figures should be viewed over a few months, rather than a shorter time period.
2. Hours Billed
Sometimes appointments run on, but you might not be able to charge for those precious extra minutes. That’s where it’s important to be monitoring the percentage of hours actually billed for physicians. If you can compare the number of hours that a physician is able to bill for against their utilisation, you will quickly be able to benchmark each doctor. Sometimes practitioners have an aversion to billing which they might need some coaching through.
3. No Show Rates
This is a frustrating issue for all healthcare practices, and the goal is always to reduce the rate of no-shows as much as possible. Automated software solutions that send email and SMS reminders can help, but it is essential to compare the rate of no-shows between different physicians as there may be another factor that is having an impact.
4. Wait Times
This is an extra one to consider as patient satisfaction is heavily impacted by the amount of time that they spend in the waiting room. Shorter waiting times even have the power to minimise other frustrations that the patient may experience at the practice. It’s also a good way to identify any bottlenecks and to make changes to how the physician’s appointments are booked if necessary.
5. Total Revenue
The total revenue that a physician generates for practice is an important metric. However, it needs to be used in conjunction with other metrics, particularly if you have physicians that work at the practice on a part-time basis. But, at the end of the day, for a practice to stay in business, each physician needs to be bringing consistent revenue to the table.
Client Satisfaction Metrics
To balance out these efficiency metrics, the other side of the equation is all about client satisfaction. These physician productivity metrics are often overlooked as the efficiency metrics are easier to measure. But the short-term focus of efficiency needs to be balanced with a longer-term outlook that takes client satisfaction into account.
Some physicians who see fewer patients per day, or have longer appointment times, might be considered to be less productive. But, by offering a better client experience, there is a higher rate of patient satisfaction which improves the likelihood of repeat visits and may also be vital in a new patient’s decision to choose your practice over another. Studies show that a doctor’s online reputation is more important than the online reputation of any business in any other industry, even a restaurant. That makes sense, you’d look up a new restaurant online before visiting, but how much more important is your health? The data tells us that more than 90% of patients will research their physician online before making an appointment and another study showed that 48% of patients would pay for treatment out of their own pocket based on positive online reviews.
Also, if a patient has a good experience with a physician, they’re much more likely to share a positive review of their experience, whether one-on-one with family and friends or online. This is essentially free advertising and will drive new patient visits to the practice at no cost.
Three client satisfaction metrics to consider are:
6. Return Rates
Repeat clients are the most profitable, and most stable practices should have client retention policies in place. But it can be difficult to know if they’re working if you’re going on gut feel. Tracking the return rate of clients to physicians in the practice will show you whether your efforts are working and if they are being supported by the individual physicians. Comparing the different return rates for different physicians is also worth doing.
7. Client Satisfaction
Closely linked to return rates, client satisfaction is vital as it has a knock-on effect for referrals and reviews online. This is a bit more difficult to track and takes more effort, but periodic surveys sent out via email or completed in the waiting room can give you a general picture of how satisfied your clients are with their physician.
Tracking where new clients come from is another important factor as it gives you a good indication of whether your marketing is having an impact and if your physicians are keeping their clients happy (or a combination of the two). You should also have a look at where your referrals are coming from – maybe there is a referral partner who has stopped sending clients, and this could be linked to the performance of one of your physicians. Or maybe one referral source is sending more and more clients your way – and this could be due to the feedback they hear from their clients and the referral feedback letters your practitioners send.
Measuring Physician Productivity in Your Practice
When you’re deciding what metrics to measure, remember that you want them to be useful, relatively simple to implement and track, and easy to benchmark (or compare) against other physicians in the practice. This is where practice management software like Power Diary can really help. The power of this solution lies in its simplicity: you’re already using the software for appointment booking and billing, so why not take it one step further and use it for reporting too. The reporting functionality isn’t unique to Power Diary, but we’re gone the extra mile to make it simple and intuitive, and you have access to useful insights that can drive change within the practice. In particular, you have access to Power Diary’s system reports that show you:
- Appointments booked;
- Client retention;
- Accounts receivable;
- Appointment no-shows.
In short, you have everything you need to create a simple framework for measuring physician productivity. There are many more factors that you could look at, but ‘analysis paralysis’ is a very real thing. You’re much better off looking at accurate data across a few metrics, rather than trying to measure every tiny little detail, which adds little value and is only going to take up more of your valuable time. Of course, practice management software isn’t necessarily going to be able to give you every detail you need, but if you consider the additional time and money costs of putting more measures in place, you might not decide that it is worth it.
Ready to get measuring?
Keep your physician productivity metrics simple! You only need to be measuring a few metrics to get a good picture of how each physician is performing, and how results compare to the other physicians in the practice. If you can do this, you’ll be ideally placed to “manage what you can measure”, which will allow you to reward top performers and offer additional training or assistance to physicians that aren’t keeping up. We recommend limiting the number of metrics that you look at to maximise your efficiency; more data isn’t necessarily going to yield further insights, but it will take up more of your time, which is going to impact your productivity in other areas.
Measuring physician productivity needs to include efficiency metrics that look at time spent with clients, the cost per patient, and the revenue that the physician generates for the practice. But these are often in-the-moment, short-term measurements that need to be balanced with satisfaction measurements that look at client satisfaction, and the overall value that a physician delivers.
Know of a physician practice that could do with some help? Please pass on this article to them; they’re going to thank you for the help! If they already have practice management software in place, this is going to be an easy step for them to implement that could have a huge impact on their bottom line.