MedCity Influencers, Physicians

5 things you can do with your practice management data

Here are five things physicians can do to improve their business using just the practice management data they already have.

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Big Data, AI, ML, deep learning, data lakes – these are the darlings of healthcare today. From improving collections to identifying at-risk patients, the delivery promise of these technologies is so big that it’s estimated over 70% of healthcare executives will invest in these areas over the next three years. Regardless of the size of a physician’s practice or the intent to invest in new tech, the real treasure for physicians lies in their practice management system. Here are five things physicians can do to improve their business using just the practice management data they already have.

Attract and retain talent with solid compensation programs

Money is the lifeblood of an independent practice. As such, it’s important to understand how shaving a day off accounts receivable affects cash flow, how aging receivables affect the ability to collect for a physician’s work and how small changes to the billing process can provide big benefits to the cost to handle a claim. These improvements to the revenue cycle process can provide the free cash needed to invest in compensation programs that ensure an independent physician can compete for scarce talent.

Better utilization of provider time and office resources

There are some practices that are so busy it may appear there is no need to have concerns about holes in the schedule. However, if a physician accomplishes a full schedule through double-booking and overlapping appointments, then they are placing the burden of bad scheduling on long wait times and hectic front office procedures. A simple analysis of no-shows and cancellations can shine a light on patterns that may not be immediately obvious. Perhaps a doctor accounts for 40% of office no-shows. Maybe Friday mornings are extra heavy with last-minute cancellations. Avoiding no-shows, last-minute cancellations and reschedules may be as simple as providing a written policy to patients or tweaking the messaging at scheduling. For example: “Please understand the doctor has a very busy schedule and it’s hard to make up missed appointments. Please make sure to give us at least 48 hours’ notice if you need to reschedule.”

Expanding to a new location

Whether expanding or moving your current practice, there are clearly many factors to consider. The question of major consequence that doctors should ask themselves is “How will this affect my current patients?” It may seem trivial, but the reality is plotting an address on a map is an important exercise for patient retention. From city to ZIP code all the way down to the rooftop, knowing where a location is relative to a practice’s patients is something that must be done and can be achieved through basic tools, such as Excel.

Maximizing collections

A physician’s practice works hard to provide the best patient experience and outcome possible. The practice must be sure that it collects everything it should for those efforts. If a physician is not examining their net collections ratio, then they don’t really know for sure — basically, the amount collected minus adjustments, bad debt and write-offs. This key metric is often used in conjunction with days in accounts receivable. By way of example, you could see the days in AR looking very strong, but examining the net collections ratio could reveal this is being accomplished through write-offs instead of collections. A strong net collections ratio is around 95%. However, most practices will be in the 75%-85% range, indicating around 20% of claims are getting touched more than once.

Measuring provider productivity

This is a controversial topic without a doubt. But love them or hate them, work relative value units are a staple of productivity and relate heavily to procedure reimbursement. While maybe imperfect, wRVUs are superior to other productivity metrics, such as number of patients seen or collections per patient. They recognize efficiency and complexity while encouraging appropriate documentation, thereby ensuring coding at the proper level. A proper and periodic review of wRVUs while considering other provider duties, such as teaching obligations or administrative work, can help ensure proper equitable compensation to providers in your facility.

There is a lot to get excited about regarding advancements in data technology. AI, ML and similar advancements are progressing every day and investments keep getting larger. However, in the excitement for what’s next, it’s important to give proper respect to the data available from the systems already in place at a physician’s practice. With the right tools in place, it is possible for physicians to improve their businesses with what they currently have.

Photo: ipopba, Getty Images

Patrick Kelly is the Chief Technology Officer at MPOWERHealth. Mr. Kelly has more than 20 years of experience, working across healthcare companies, consulting firms and startups. Throughout his career, he has focused on helping independent providers transition from volume-based to value-based care. Prior to joining MPOWERHealth, Kelly held roles as a technology leader in several companies, including Stratifi Health, Loopback Analytics and Phytel (now IBM Watson Health).

With a breadth of expertise in advanced technology and cutting-edge solutions, Kelly is driving the tools and infrastructure to connect data from every corner of musculoskeletal care, allowing for better insight into cost efficiency and quality outcome improvements.

Kelly holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a Master of Business Administration with a focus on management information systems from Texas A&M University.

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