Let’s imagine your last patient was Graham, a 65 year old man with diabetes. You checked his blood pressure and ordered pathology tests to check his kidneys, thyroid, and glucose control. You asked about his diet, activity and stress levels. And you encouraged him to get his eyes tested and his feet examined.
You’d never guess about a patient’s health; you do the right tests to find out. It’s second nature to you.
But you probably do guess about the health of your practice. For some reason, examining your practice feels much more daunting than examining your patients.
That’s understandable. After all, you’ve had many years of professional training in treating patients and comparatively little training on how to run a business. Those two parts of your role may be more similar than you think, though. Clinical data helps you diagnose and treat your patients to improve their health; practice data helps you identify and remedy obstacles to business growth.
The Benefits of Knowing Your Numbers
Try thinking about your practice metrics in the same way you think of a patient’s pathology results. The data reveals what’s really going on so you can take appropriate action.
The key benefit of knowing your numbers is that it allows you to make informed decisions in line with your values. Skilfully tracking and benchmarking your numbers lays the groundwork for supporting healthier, happier patients and enhancing your business.
Tracking your numbers helps you:
- Understand what influences your bank balance
- Know what’s happening instead of wondering and worrying
- Plan how to address any problems you uncover
- Benchmark, set goals, implement strategies and analyse if your plans worked.
Essentially, knowing your numbers gives you greater control over your practice’s success, enabling you to make responsible, effective investments in your team, your patients, your marketing or your premises.
What Should You Measure?
There are many possible answers to that question but it’s best to start with what’s most important to your practice growth right now.
So think about the last few weeks. Were there a lot of cancellations or no-shows? Were there many new patients or not? Were the admin tasks piling up? Were your internal systems followed well or was it a bit hit-and-miss? Were you paying rent for empty rooms when part-time staff weren’t there?
Now you’ve got a few ideas of the issues your practice is facing. You don’t need to tackle every issue at once. Perhaps pick the top three issues that would help you improve consistency and patient experience. Then work out what you could measure to learn more about the issue.
Here are five ways to gain a set of accurate practice performance measurements.
1. Measure More Than Money
Obviously, you need to measure the money metrics like your cash flow and overall profitability so you can pay yourself and your staff. But money is not your ultimate nor your most inspiring reason for being there.
As Simon Sinek says, inspired leaders Start with Why. So, why are you running a practice? What was your vision? And how can you track your success towards that?
For example, if you’re a primary care professional who desires to have a strong, proactive presence in your community to promote good health, then you might choose to measure your outreach sessions, community events that you participated in, local newspapers you wrote for or social media likes from locals. Measuring these metrics helps you realise your vision.
Beyond the bottom line, what do your numbers say about consistent practitioner performance, timely service, referral rates and sources, that social media campaign you just ran or the number of hits on your website?
2. Validate Your Tracking Tools
You can track completed tasks and capture key figures using software like Cubiko to:
- Provide a complete and accurate record of your processes and outcomes
- Record the full extent of your practitioners’ role in each patient’s journey
- Be accessible and easy to use
- Be used by everyone all of the time
- Enable you to track your marketing performance against your competitors
Your staff (both clinical and non-clinical) need to understand your systems. That may mean you need to spend some time and money on training. It also means that your training and troubleshooting manuals should be available and easy to access.
Your staff also need to see that this effort is worthwhile. So, you should regularly summarise and share insights from your practice software reports or other tracking tools. It helps people stay motivated.
Once you’re confident about the state of your systems, work out what you need to track.
3. Start Small and Measure the Essentials
Begin by tackling two or three of these top 12 Healthy Practice Indicators (HPIs). This helps minimise your risk of information overload, and lets you test and tweak your systems and processes. It also gives you time to ensure that you’ve got your team on board.
Although you’re about to delve into hard data, gut instinct is a solid way to select your starting point.
Scan this list and start with the HPIs that shout the loudest.
|HPI||The Measurables||The Maths|
|Patients per day||Number or patients (a)|
Number of days (b)Formula: a / b
|Percentage of patients who book their next consult||Total consults (a)|
Number who rebooking (r)Formula: (a-r)/a (x100 for %)
|Percentage of cancellations|
with no rebooking
|Number of cancellations with no rebooking(c)|
Total number rebooked (r)Formula: x/(r+c) (x100 for %)
|Percentage of Did Not Attend (DNAs)||Total number of DNAs (m)|
Total number of consults (a)Formula: m/a (x100 for %)
|Percentage of Call conversions||Total telephone enquiries (p)|
Total appointments booked (b)Formula: p/b (x100 for %)
|Visits per patient||Total consults (a)|
Total patients (c)Formula: a/c
|Financial Metrics||Average fee per consult||Total $ received ($)|
Total appointments (a)Formula: a/$
|$ / hour per practitioner||Total $ billed ($)|
Hours consulting (h)Formula: h/ $
|Time Metrics||Percentage of consults begun within 5 minutes of scheduled time||Total consults (a)|
On time consults (t)Formula: t/b (x100 for %)
|Percentage of consult time filled (Utilisation)||Total available slots (t)|
Vacant slots (v)
Additional slots (e)Formula: t-(v-e)/t (x100 for %)
|Marketing Metrics||Conversion rate of your website||Total calls and emails through a website for a particular time period (c)|
Total website traffic for same period (w)Formula: c/w (x100 for %)
|Number of appointments required to achieve revenue target||Billings goal (r)|
Average billings per appointment (i)Formula: r/i
|Patient lifetime value||Average billing per appointment (ab) Average number of appointments per year (an)|
Average retention time in months or years for a typical customer (ar)Formula: ab x an x ar
Want to save time? You can download our HPI workbook by completing the form below.
Or, if tables aren’t your thing, the team at Cubiko has kindly created a version of this dashboard for us which you can start using now. Learn more here.
4. Check Your Culture and Connections
How robust are your partnerships and professional networks? How strong is your team spirit? How effective is your marketing?
Here are some ways to measure your workplace culture, your peer connections and your patient reach:
- Workplace culture
- Track information sharing and support.
- Set up a simple way for your team to record help from a fellow staff member.
- Acknowledge and celebrate accordingly.
- Know who loves a public show of appreciation and who prefers a quiet word of thanks.
- Track professional development and shared learning.
- Create a basic template and a timeslot for presentations to share new skills and knowledge.
- Peer connections
- Number of reports sent to other health professionals caring for your patients.
- Number of referrals to your practice and the sources, including word of mouth from current patients, partnering practices, and digital and other forms of marketing.
- Number of referrals from your practice to other health professionals.
- Number of times you catch up with partner practices to express appreciation and share ideas and information.
- Track information sharing and support.
- Present and potential patients
- Numbers of workshops and events attended or hosted by your team.
- Frequency and impact of marketing activities, social media posts, one off digital and print campaigns, web site visits and blog post comments.
HPIs snapshot your practice’s performance. Use these snapshots as reference points or benchmarks to set targets for improvement and growth.
South Australian Practice Director and Manager Prashiba Thavarajadeva gives a practical overview of benchmarking for medical practices in this 2018 conference presentation.
Just as you refer some patients to other practitioners with a different skillset to yours, sometimes you need to refer to business specialists who can help your practice. You could draw on the insights of:
- Your accountant, to validate your financials and advise on viable spends
- Your collaborative colleagues in practices willing to share and compare numbers
- Your team for their perspective on doing things differently and better
- A health and medical marketing specialist on how to manage and measure digital and other forms of marketing to avoid these three medical marketing mistakes.
Splice Marketing’s digital diagnosis gives you a straight answer to the effectiveness of your current marketing. We can show you what’s working well and what could be improved. As a specialist health and medical marketing agency, we can advertise your practice in a compliant and ethical manner that enables you to share your expertise, attract new patients and grow.
So, don’t be daunted by the thought of examining your practice’s data. Hopefully, there’ll be some pleasant surprises where you discover things that are working well. Knowing your numbers means when you do encounter business difficulties, you’re better equipped to diagnose the problem and make informed ‘treatment’ decisions that enable better management and growth. And there’s always expert help available when you need it.
Special offer – sign up for your Cubiko dashboard. After 1 month, a healthcare business consultant and our marketing expert will provide you with a detailed but free, analysis so you can use this to guide the way forward.