Strategic practice management: Those who do without key figures lose out

Facts and figures on the German health care system.

What is at stake

Smoothly functioning practice management is the central starting point for achieving all conceivable practice goals: reducing work pressure, increasing efficiency and productivity, further improving patient satisfaction, increasing success or securing the future. But how do practice owners succeed in aligning their management in this way, even in the context of dynamically changing working conditions?

Practice management: one term for many interdependencies

The problem for general practitioners and specialists is above all that „practice management“ is a conglomerate of many different areas of action that are closely interconnected and, to a large extent, condition and influence each other. Only when these areas – from planning to patient management, leadership, organisation to marketing, market research and controlling – mesh like finely tuned cogs can management excellence be achieved.

Classic solutions only help to a limited extent

In this context, the application of tips, tricks and advice provided to practice owners by various sources does not lead to a noticeable change in their work, because this is – as described – only possible in a holistic way.

Seminars sometimes impart knowledge on individual or several of these interdependencies, but the contents inevitably follow the principle of „one-size-fits-all“, so that the participating doctors – returning to their practices – have increased knowledge, but still no plan for concrete action.

Finally, there is recourse to consultants, but a complete analysis of the practice management is too expensive for many doctors.

It can also be simple

A general practitioner or specialist who wants to improve, develop or realign his practice management in the context of his goals first needs a status description of his work. This is the starting point of the concept of key performance indicators (KPIs), which

  • solves the aforementioned problem of the complexity of practice management by generating orientation parameters,
  • offers the possibility of determining the actual state of practice management without great effort and
  • at the same time identifies strengths, but also deficits as well as unused opportunities and risk factors.

With the results of this initial analysis, concrete target parameters for the practice work can be defined and monitored and controlled in a simple but comprehensive way by means of follow-up examinations.

How the indicators are created

KPIs are parameters that are created by comparing the practice management data of a medical practice with objective and representative measured variables. For this purpose, with the help of structured analysis forms (doctor, MFA, patients, referring physicians, if applicable), the design of the practice management is first described and made measurable via scaling in the later evaluation. In this way, not only the type and intensity of the regulations used for practice management are recorded, but also their effects, so that a kind of MRI image of the practice work is created.

Insights via benchmarking

This information is then subjected to a best practice and a specialist group benchmarking. The best practice comparison shows whether all the regulations, instruments and behaviours that ensure smooth practice operation are actually implemented. The specialist group ratio provides additional information on the extent to which the practice management under investigation meets the minimum market standard. From the KPIs determined

  • results in a detailed status overview of the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of the examined practice with a detailed action plan for improvements, changes and developments,
  • furthermore individual practice management development goals can be formed on the basis of the practice strategy and monitored with regard to progress in implementation.

Thus, a KPI status report corresponds to a balanced scorecard for practice management.

„Easy-to-use and ready-to-go

The special feature of the KPI concept is that the necessary information can be collected solely by means of easy-to-fill questionnaires without the need for an on-site consultant:

  • the doctor’s questionnaire takes about 30 minutes to complete,
  • the practice assistant document is completed in about 20 minutes,
  • in addition, a patient survey is carried out in which up to 100 practice visitors can be interviewed.

No specialist knowledge or supplementary materials are required for processing the documents.

KPIs open up choices

On the basis of the KPI status report created from the questionnaire data and the associated action plan, practice owners are able to decide whether they want to implement the listed proposals themselves with their teams or resort to external help. In the second case, the prior preparation of the Balanced Scorecard leads to a significant cost saving, as the consulting objective for external consultants can be precisely delimited and defined.

The instrument for determining KPIs