The most important metric, in my opinion, to determine the health of your practice is appointment efficiency. It’s a direct and straightforward test that can indicate the performance of your scheduling staff, the need to recruit more Providers, and it can even indicate how you manage your visits overall. Unfortunately, this metric is hard to generate in most EMR’s, and thus it’s been forgotten. In fact, I’ve yet to work with a practice that is already using this test, but it soon becomes gospel. The metric goes by many names, and some would argue that the title alludes to other parameters – regardless, this one seems to indicate the core of them all.
Here’s the equation: Provider Units Consumed / Provider Units AvailableA unit can be any amount of time in the context of an appointment. Most Providers use 15 minutes to define a unit because they believe they should spend no less than 15 minutes with a patient. If you specify a unit to be 15 minutes, then make sure your EMR is displaying at 15-minute intervals. A sick visit may only take 15 minutes. Therefore, it’s value is one unit; whereas an annual appointment may take 30 minutes, thus, it’s value is two units. Once you define your unit value, you must remain consistent thereafter.Provider Units Available (PUA) are how much time the Provider has allocated for patient care that day. It does not include non-billable time such as completing the charts at the end of the day or working with administrative staff. Office the schedule template allocation within your EMR is the same. A Provider may be willing to work from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (32 units) with a 1-hour lunch break (4 units) for a total of 28 units.Provider Units Consumed (PUC) are how many appointments or 15-minute units are consumed during the time they allocated to the practice. If a Provides spends two units on a 1 unit appointment, you still count it as 1 unit as it was scheduled. Staying consistent with the examples above, let’s assume the Provider has 28 PUA’s, and on their schedule today they’re going to see five annual visits (10 units) and nine sick visits (9 units); the total PUC would be 19. Therefore their Appointment Efficiency was 19 divided by 28 or 67.8%.Now that you can calculate the Appointment Efficiency for the practice you’ll need to start analyzing the data. One of the first conclusions you need to compile your data are benchmarks for the practice as a whole and the Providers. You can use this information to identify ‘bright spots’ in your practice and hold everyone accountable to the same standard which founded on their ability. Take the following example:
Here’s how you may use this example data to manage the practice:
You can use Appointment Efficiency to determine the health of many aspects of your practice. For instance:
Everything within the practice correlates to your ability to conduct patient encounters. Your practice doesn’t treat patients by spending an hour in a meeting in the middle of the day, it doesn’t increase your bottom line arguing about website content, and it certainly isn’t helping when you’re focused on bookkeeping. All of those ancillary time consumers are essential, but that’s secondary to maintaining a proper Appointment Efficiency benchmark. Your practice consumes one precious fuel which is Provider time, and everyone employed by the practice is there to make the consumption rate of that fuel more efficient. There is limited fuel on this Earth so be sure you’re consuming it practically. Provider Appointment Efficiency isn’t the burden of the Provider alone; it’s an indication of the health of the entire system.
To most, Human Resources sounds like such a daunting task. Like any other role in the practice, it is a series of workflows that when broken down into their constituent parts are rather simple