How do you know when your practice is thriving?
Every practice owner and manager wants to run a successful practice, but it can be challenging to define and measure what success looks like. Especially across a busy practice that provides dozens of services. Some owners look to expand and buy into other practices within their local metropolitan area, while some are focussed on a single rural practice. Many are simply focused on the output of their practice, and the impact they can make by providing care for their patients. There are many different objectives and criteria that one can measure success by, however, I believe they can all be measured in one form or another.
The first step in knowing if your practice is thriving is to understand your overarching business goals and objectives. From there it’s up to you to define what success looks like for you, your team and your community.
Breaking down goals into short term and long-term goals can help set perspective for you and your team and is a strategy that I’ve seen work for dozens of practices. For example, your long-term goal may be to become the most trusted care provider in your area, and a short-term goal that may facilitate that, is to focus on expanding your Chronic Disease Manage (CDM) services or getting first time patients back in for more regular health checks. Consider what you want to achieve within your practice over the next five years, and what you can accomplish in the next 6-12 months to get you there.
Once you’ve set your sights on the next big step for your team, you’ll want to find ways of measuring and reporting on your progress.
The best way of measuring patient satisfaction and quality of service is through a combination of anecdotal feedback from patients and data found in your practice management system. Metrics are a fantastic way of measuring the impact you’re having as a business, but when it comes to actionable insight, it’s also important to collect patient feedback. Make an effort to regularly survey patients and ask for feedback on how you can improve both the services you offer, and the experience patients are left having. NPS or Net Promoter Score is a popular method of collecting and analysing feedback, as it will give you a singular score you can assess week on week, while also giving patients the opportunity to provide written feedback as well. Make sure to track this for your quality improvements, for instance patient feedback regarding QI1.2 of the RACGP standards in the 5th edition.
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As for metrics you can track, I recommend looking at billings per hour, diary wait time patients per hour and utilisation. These will provide you with a solid overview of your usage of the MBS schedule, how often you run on time, how well your team is equipped to service patients and full your diaries are.
Where do you find opportunities for improvement?
How are you performing? It’s a difficult question to answer. With reports you can often look backwards, and at historical trends. Compare your billings for instance, to the same period last year. You can spend all the time in the world creating forecasts and looking forward. When we have data, it is important to have context, a target in mind.
What we have lacked in the medical industry is the ability to look horizontally. For instance, I know I’m a bulk-billing practice in metro Brisbane, how do I compare across other bulk-billing practices. Is a billing per hour of $302 across my cohort of GPs good for a bulk-billing practice?
It’s answering these questions and de-siloing General Practice that I’m passionate about. It’s one of the major features, Touchstone, that Cubiko has been working on. For the first time practices around Australia will be able to compare and contrast their business metrics to like-for-like practices.
Before Touchstone, available data on how you’re performing against a national benchmark was very hard to come by. The government intermittently releases state and national numbers on MBS items. While this is useful information, you’re comparing your practice against state and national benchmarks across the board, rather than like for like practices.
By understanding how your practice is performing against similar practices you can celebrate the successes. If you see that your practice is performing well, share it with the team. If you’re wondering where improvements can possible be made, looking horizontally at benchmarks can also be useful. But always be weary with benchmarks that aren’t representative of the practice you want to run.