During both undergraduate and graduate level classes, we were taught a multitude of topics ranging from Pathophysiology to, in my case, Women’s Health for the Advanced Practice Nurse, and everything in between, always through the lens of caring for the whole patient. When I eventually joined a Women’s Health practice and started seeing my own patients, it struck me that while in school, we weren’t taught about practice management or the finance of healthcare. These topics are pretty dense, and while I don’t need to be an expert (shoutout to the healthcare accountants!), I wasn’t even required to take a basic finance course in my undergraduate program. Given that the healthcare industry makes up almost 20% of the US GDP, wouldn’t it make sense for our healthcare providers to understand the ins and outs of making a practice run?
While this may not be the case for some, there is often a lack of communication between the management teams that work on the practice and the physicians that work in the practice. For years, there has been an unspoken “stay in your lane” mentality that has kept executives and providers distinctly separate. It should come as no surprise that the nonexistent – or at the very least scarce – communication has led to a lack of trust, creating tension between the two. As a practicing provider, I understood the importance of my personal production level and how that contributed to the success of the practice. I also saw through the lens of quality patient care that there was a sweet spot of spending enough time with each patient while opening the doors for our entire population to receive the care they needed. What I didn’t know was whether my performance was better or worse than my colleagues’ or industry’s best practice. Our practice didn’t discuss the metrics used to evaluate the success of the provider, which often meant that I didn’t know if I was meeting expectations.
Of course, discussing “target” production can be a slippery slope. However, open communication about month-to-month volume and trends in quality metrics can open the door to more efficient and effective patient care and promote better collaboration between providers and management. After all, this is one team working to provide the best possible care to our patients. When communication about key performance indicators is minimal, the care of the patient is compromised because providers have no insight into the bigger picture, resulting in a seemingly never-ending loop of responding to the crisis of the day (or hour) instead of proactively planning the conversations they need to have with patients that day. Equipping providers with a deeper understanding of various performance indicators gives them the ability to make informed decisions on time management, patient management, and ultimately practice management. This level of organization and understanding leads to higher quality care as the provider is better prepared to tackle each day and every case.
It is so important that providers understand and trust the metrics the practice deems critical and that they have consistent access to these reports, plus a forum to share what’s working well and discuss opportunities for improvement. Without them, the cycle of closed communication continues, and the evolution of healthcare stalls. When practice data is properly harnessed, utilized, and communicated, providers can make critical decisions that not only drive the success of the practice but, more importantly, the success of the patient’s care.
Part of unlocking the value of the medical group is ensuring open communication between administration and clinicians on how we make money and spend money and how this is aligned with the strategy. Are you looking for help opening those doors? Contact us.