Managing the medical mindshift: Laying the foundations with ratios

Facts and Figures from the German Health Care System

What it’s all about

In order to be able to deal adequately with the changes taking place in their working environment, general practitioners and specialists primarily need a solid practice management foundation. A simple system of ratios ensures solidity.

Outpatient medicine in transition

Medicine is not unaffected by the current social, economic and technological changes and trends. In the outpatient sector, the main challenges are the following

  • Considerations of sectoral restructuring and alternative forms of organisation of operations,
  • the digital transformation,
  • the popularisation of medicine and
  • changing patient requirements

In the outpatient sector, the digital transformation, the popularisation of medicine and changing patient demands are confronting GPs and specialists with completely new challenges, both with regard to the strategic and operational orientation of their businesses.

The ossified professional image

But the players in a professional image characterised by a multitude of standards find it difficult to muster the flexibility that would be necessary to cope with the new challenges. Many doctors also see their inaction confirmed by the fact that colleagues also do not react, but ultimately this attitude results in a multitude of personal and economic disadvantages.

What is decisive, however, is that many of the established ways of thinking and acting reach their limits in view of the changes and need to be corrected or completely replaced.

An agile practice management as a basis

However, the first step is to create a smoothly functioning, agile practice management that ensures smooth operations even in the face of changing requirements. Once this foundation has been laid, the next steps can be taken.

The term „practice management“ refers to the totality of all regulations, instruments, measures and behaviour,

  • which are used in the action areas of planning, organisation, market research, leadership and cooperation, time and self-management, patient management, marketing and financial management of medical practices of all specialisations and
  • whose interaction guarantees the operation of the practice.

Practice management functions as a transmitter of the medical competence of physicians, the activities of medical assistants and the resources used into the actual care of patients. The quality of its organisation determines

  • the extent to which the skills of the doctors and the abilities of the staff are made available to the patients in the form of comprehensive assistance,
  • it also determines how quickly practice teams can react to changes of any kind, implement them and benefit from them (example: digitalisation),
  • and last but not least, it affects costs, turnover and profit.

Key figures show the way

Since – as described – practice management is based on different action sectors that are interconnected and interdependent, changes in one sector have an impact on the other action sectors on the one hand, but often also require corresponding adjustments there in order to have a synergistic effect. However, practice owners are often not aware of these interactions and hardly pay attention to them. They usually think of problems in monocausal terms, try to identify „the“ malfunction of practice management and eliminate it with the help of individual measures. However, practice management is a multifactorial process that must be examined in its entirety.

Key figures break down the encrustation of the mindset

One approach to breaking through the mindset of outpatient medicine, which is characterised by sweeping generalisations and generalisations, and to identify new approaches are concise and objectifying ratios,

  • that describe, with regard to the instruments, processes and behavioural patterns of practice management used, what the status of action is, how it should ideally be developed and what implementation status can be found in specialist-group-like operations, supplemented by the information
  • which effects result from the use of the practice management instruments, which would be ideal and which effects are achieved in the specialist group.

A structured way out

These questions are answered by a practice management benchmarking. It is an assessment whose evaluation benchmarks are the results of a professional group and best practice benchmarking. A practice development carried out with its help is not based on the subjective assessments of a consultant, but measures the practice management quality as a qualitative comparison in relation to the representative market standard and the performance optimum.The effort required to determine the necessary data is extremely low with the help of validated-structured data documentation and is possible for all individual action areas of practice management, but also for their aggregation.

A case study

In a cardiology practice, the two practice owners noticed increasing management problems, but could not identify a cause for this. Both were firmly convinced that they were doing what was possible and necessary to manage their staff adequately. A practice management comparison showed

  • that the use of management tools in relation to the best practice standard was only 49%, i.e. barely half of the necessary regulations were actually implemented,
  • with a ratio of 65%, the intensity of use was also 1/3 below the average of the specialist group,
  • in the output area, the quality of management from the staff perspective (satisfaction of the medical assistants in relation to their requirements) resulted in a score of 31%,
  • the corresponding professional group score was 58%.

Insights change the medical mindset

A look at the company comparison data showed, among other things, that important instruments such as regular morning meetings and team meetings were hardly carried out. Only from the objectifying evaluations did the cardiologists realise the relevance of these aspects, to which they had previously attached no importance. All in all, the comparison not only identified optimisation options, but also sensitised the practice owners to the necessity of intensified leadership activities through the market references; the mindset changed.