Empower Your Practice

Journal for Practice Managers

Analyzing Business Activity with Practice Management Software

Andrew Morozoff
August 31, 2018

Here's the third part of Andrew Morozoff's insight into the most effective ways to transform the clinic with the help of practice management software. You can check out the first part of the article here and the second one here.

Let’s move on to the next key performance indicator:

Consulting Room Occupancy Rates

You can analyse two indicators here: room workload over time, and room workload over revenue earned. In either case, you need to understand how effectively a given room is being used.

Medesk is an assistant for clinic managers, collects and presents complex statistics about the work of the clinic in a simple and understandable way, that makes it easier for the manager to make both operational and strategic decisions.

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I would recommend that you determine the average room occupancy rate and use this to inform your plan of action. For example, if a room is in use for only the first half of the day, then you clearly need to find someone to fill the second half. However,

if it turns out that you can’t boost a given room’s occupancy rate, then it’s better to just repurpose it.

Case in Point

Our ophthalmology and gynaecology rooms weren’t generating enough revenue to be viable from a business perspective. The ophthalmology room was only occupied for 3 mornings a week because we couldn’t find the right person for the job. In the gynaecologist’s case, he was working a 5-day week but the room was only occupied for 10% of that time.

We took the decision to repurpose the ophthalmologist’s room for walk-in GP services and move all the equipment to another medical centre in our chain of clinics. As for the gynaecologist’s room, we chose to use it a base for our aesthetic services. We were able to improve the use of these rooms by 50% and 60% respectively.

Aside from the points described above, practice managers should also track indicators such as workload per time period. This is the best indicator of all for evaluating the volume of patients coming in per hour.

Practice managers ought to be aware of the work hours at which their consulting rooms are most and least busy.

Find out how to build a convenient appointment schedule for doctors and reduce workload for receptionists with Medesk.

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Patient attendance at your medical facility may be linear or disrupted by “holes in time” as I like to call them. If on your graph of workload per time period, the peak and nadir values (maximum and minimum) are more than 60% apart, then you know you’ve got some gaps in your workload that shouldn’t be there.

At one time of day, you might receive the vast majority of your patients, which may subsequently speak negatively as to the quality of your services. Of course, the simplest solution would be to bring in extra staff for these specific times. Alternatively, you could rearrange shift patterns and scheduling so that the highest level of staff availability deliberately coincides with these peak times. However you plan things, what you don’t want to end up with is a situation where you have a whole contingent of staff, but no patients to be seen.

You would be best advised to rid yourself of any workload disruptions. The most effective method of doing so is to correct your doctors’ schedules.

Case in Point

In one of our clinics, data analysis showed that the highest proportion of patients attend on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. We found out that at this time, our main doctors were not present at the clinic and we were without the right number of locums. This resulted in something of an emergency at the reception desk as patients began to complain about the quality of service provided. We took the decision to switch those doctors working on Tuesdays and Thursdays with those working on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Also, we gradually moved some appointment time slots to the afternoon on these days. The result was that our daily and weekly workload evened out and the complaints stopped. As a consequence, we were able to increase the number of repeat visits and boost revenue per doctor and per consulting room.

Practice managers must understand who their clients are. To work this out, you’ll need to collect a certain level of social and demographic information from your patients. For example: age, gender, socioeconomic status, and educational level. The more you have of such indicators, the more effectively you can run your marketing campaigns and attract more patients.

Case in Point

A portion of our budget was allocated for the promotion of discount campaigns with the support of external advertising. For 3 months, the local area was festooned with our banners offering discounts for services at our clinic. However, this did not result in an increase in our patient list.

Discounts were provided for all patients (losses and negative returns were treated as advertising expenses). Upon analysis of the reasons for the advertising campaigns failure, it was found that our banners were primarily targeting male drivers, while our client base (and overall target audience) was women over 45 years of age. Thus, our money was spent for nothing in this case.

Of course, you can’t always track every single indicator that you would like to. This series of articles has outlined the most fundamental indicators and the next series will delve into how you can put together a plan of action and encourage your colleagues to implement it.

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