Physician enterprise performance continues to be a key driver for achieving health system financial and operational success. According to a recent study conducted by the American Medical Association, in 2018, the number of employed physicians for the first time exceeded the number of those who owned their own practices. Hospital-owned physician practices saw an increase of employed physicians from 23.4 percent in 2012 to 26.7 percent in 2018.
As hospital and physician leaders continue to look for ways to drive performance while serving their patients and improving the performance of ambulatory operations, they need to analyze medical group performance—most notably capacity and structure—to ensure that care is being delivered efficiently and effectively. Let’s look at some key questions that leaders should be asking to drive success of the physician enterprise:
- Are we optimizing the use of our current provider capacity and clinic resources? Understanding and optimizing the use of clinic capacity, beginning with provider time, is foundational to providing timely access to care. Providers must have sufficient resources including staff and facilities to ensure optimal throughput. Measuring visits per contact hour or session across providers and offices within a specialty internally or against external peers can highlight opportunities to drive more volume with the same provider base–improving the ability to see patients in a timely manner.
- Do we have sufficient capacity for new patients to allow us to grow our ambulatory volumes and increase referrals to strategically important inpatient services?
The clinic is the front door to the health system. In an increasingly competitive market, growth requires understanding and prioritizing consumers’ need for timely and convenient access to primary and specialty care. Many physician groups are challenged by provider templates and schedules that are not designed to accommodate demand for new patients. When new patients cannot be seen in a timely manner, they are twice as likely to cancel or “no show,” and many will seek care elsewhere.
- Do we have the right care model in place to promote optimal use of capacity and reduce delays in care?
Provider shortages in both primary care and specialty services and increasing demands on providers’ time can create constraints on capacity and growth. New care team models including the use of APPs, and new approaches to care including group visits, telehealth and remote patient monitoring can support and extend the existing provider base and promote more timely access to care. Clinic staffing models that include the appropriate mix of MAs and other clinic staff can support efficient throughput and create an optimal practice environment for providers.
- Are we managing our portfolio of primary care and specialty care services to ensure that patients are seeing the right provider in the right setting in a timely manner?
Ensuring that patients are seen by the most appropriate provider, in the most convenient setting, and in a timely manner requires aligning the mix of primary care and specialty services with current and anticipated future demand. Ongoing monitoring of patients’ clinical needs helps ensure that patients retain relationships with their primary care physicians, with co-management by specialists as appropriate, and frees up specialists’ capacity for new patients.
- Are we leveraging our practice-based and other supporting resources efficiently and effectively?
Benchmarking practice support and administrative staffing and the related costs against peers provides insight into the efficiency and effectiveness of direct and indirect clinic operations. Insight into the practice models of peer organizations can provide insights into opportunities to reduce practice expense or the accommodate additional volumes without increasing resources.
Enhancing and transforming care delivery within the physician enterprise is no small task, but certainly not impossible. Organizations that embrace a data-driven approach to performance improvement can uncover new insights and develop new care models that can result in convenient, effective and timely care for patients and an increase in volumes, profits and patient satisfaction for the enterprise.
For help gaining new insights into medical group performance, contact us at email@example.com or request a demo to learn how we can help improve access to care, patient satisfaction and overall operations.