Col­lab­o­ra­tion among key at­tributes of suc­cess­ful med­i­cal prac­tices

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT - By Todd Even­son

In the years that I’ve spent work­ing with med­i­cal prac­tice ad­min­is­tra­tors and ex­ec­u­tives, I’ve learned one im­por­tant les­son: When you’ve seen one prac­tice, you’ve seen one prac­tice.

Med­i­cal prac­tices are vastly dif­fer­ent in many ways, de­pend­ing on their lo­ca­tion and the pop­u­la­tion of pa­tients they serve, as well as their size, struc­ture and spe­cialty. Although th­ese dif­fer­ences are sig­nif­i­cant, there is plenty of common ground. In my ex­pe­ri­ence from con­nect­ing with col­leagues in or­ga­ni­za­tions near and far, there are cer­tain char­ac­ter­is­tics shared by strong, dy­namic prac­tices that meet the needs of to­day’s pa­tients.

Prac­tice ex­ec­u­tives and clin­i­cians col­lab­o­rate strate­gi­cally: Col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween clin­i­cians and prac­tice ex­ec­u­tives is paramount for de­sign­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tional, tech­no­log­i­cal and pa­tient-en­gage­ment sys­tems that en­hance care and im­prove out­comes. Although they are not di­rectly in­volved in clin­i­cal care, prac­tice ex­ec­u­tives help cre­ate the sys­tems and pro­cesses that make that care ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive and help physi­cians de­vote the max­i­mum amount of time to pa­tient care.

Suc­cess­ful prac­tices un­der­stand the business of care de­liv­ery—how to bridge business and clin­i­cal func­tions to pro­vide safe, ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive care to bet­ter en­gage their pa­tients. Strate­gi­cally align­ing th­ese func­tions and work­ing as a team help to en­sure prac­tice suc­cess.

Business de­ci­sions are driven by data: Suc­cess­ful med­i­cal prac­tices in­fuse data into ev­ery­thing they do and bench­mark their or­ga­ni­za­tions with na­tional met­rics and in­di­ca­tors. Not only do the prac­tices un­der­stand and mon­i­tor the many met­rics that pay­ers re­quire, they also use in­dus­try data to de­velop physi­cian com­pen­sa­tion plans, mon­i­tor the cost of run­ning a med­i­cal group, com­pare their prac­tice’s rev­enue to that of sim­i­lar prac­tices, and as­sess their staffing mod­els, among other things. For ex­am­ple, ac­cord­ing to the MGMA Per­for­mance and Prac­tices of Suc­cess­ful Med­i­cal Groups: 2014 Re­port Based on 2013 Data, med­i­cal prac­tices that have been deemed “bet­ter per­form­ing” in­di­cated that they col­lect re­ceiv­ables more quickly than their peers and as­sess pa­tient sat­is­fac­tion in their prac­tice more fre­quently than prac­tices with­out the des­ig­na­tion.

The Med­i­cal Group Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion also ob­served that “bet­ter-per­form­ing” med­i­cal prac­tices re­ported a lower pa­tient no-show rate (4%) com­pared with oth­ers (4.25%) and re­ported less bad debt due to fee-for-ser­vice ac­tiv­ity per full­time-equiv­a­lent physi­cian. Hav­ing fi­nan­cial bench­mark­ing data and prac­tice per­for­mance in­for­ma­tion read­ily avail­able can help physi­cians and prac­tice ex­ec­u­tives make data-driven de­ci­sions, which po­si­tions the or­ga­ni­za­tion for long-term suc­cess.

Prac­tice lead­ers are com­mit­ted to life-long learn­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion: Suc­cess­ful prac­tices em­ploy board­cer­ti­fied med­i­cal prac­tice ex­ec­u­tives who are mo­ti­vated to el­e­vate the ad­min­is­tra­tive and clin­i­cal ex­cel­lence of the prac­tice.

They are led by ex­ec­u­tives who are com­mit­ted to life-long learn­ing and seek new in­for­ma­tion and re­sources, pur­sue net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and gain ex­per­tise that helps their prac­tice to in­no­vate. In this pe­riod of in­dus­try change and un­cer­tainty, it is crit­i­cal to build a clin­i­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive team that is nim­ble, poised to grow and will­ing to work dili­gently to drive longterm sus­tain­abil­ity.

Prac­tices invest for chang­ing times: While prac­tice ad­min­is­tra­tors and ex­ec­u­tives face in­cred­i­ble chal­lenges, the en­vi­ron­ment of­fers flex­i­bil­ity to ex­plore tech­nolo­gies, pro­cesses and tools that can in­crease ef­fi­cien­cies and im­prove op­er­a­tions and pa­tient out­comes.

This doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily re­quire a large in­vest­ment; rather, suc­cess­ful prac­tices con­stantly ap­ply lessons learned to meet the needs of pa­tients. This might be in­vest­ing in a pa­tient por­tal that sends au­to­matic alerts to pa­tients who need a pre­scrip­tion re­fill, helps track a pa­tient’s progress in los­ing weight, mon­i­tors glu­cose or blood pres­sure lev­els, and gives re­minders and ac­cess to re­sources and in­for­ma­tion. It could mean de­vot­ing 10 min­utes to Googling the prac­tice name to be sure that business hours and di­rec­tions are ac­cu­rate on­line. Th­ese may seem like small tasks, but suc­cess­ful prac­tices invest in their fu­ture by de­vot­ing time and re­sources to en­hanc­ing their pa­tients’ ex­pe­ri­ence.

Small, large, ur­ban, ru­ral, sin­gle-spe­cialty, mul­tispe­cialty, in­de­pen­dent or aligned—th­ese are only a few of the set­tings in which physi­cians are de­liv­er­ing care to pa­tients. While each might be unique in some ways, suc­cess­ful prac­tices that meet the needs of to­day’s pa­tients use data to drive business de­ci­sions, are staffed with a so­phis­ti­cated team that col­lab­o­rates ef­fec­tively, and plans, pre­pares and in­vests for the fu­ture.

Todd Even­son is MGMA vice pres­i­dent of data so­lu­tions and con­sult­ing ser­vices.

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