Why GPs and specialists choose to undertake a practice management benchmarking exercise

What it is all about

While business comparisons usually serve to assess the economic situation of medical practices, a practice management business comparison offers general practitioners and specialists the opportunity to compare the type, intensity and effects of their practice management with the representative conditions of their specialist group and the best practice standard. This concept opens up a multitude of possible applications.

Practice management as a prerequisite for needs-based patient care

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

  • which are used in the fields of planning, organisation, market research, leadership and cooperation, time and self-management, patient management, marketing and financial management of medical practices of all disciplines 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. It depends on the quality of its organisation

  • 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.

Danger source Practice management insufficiency

However, practice management is often associated with a permanent feeling of overload for doctors and medical assistants, which manifests itself daily in overlong working hours, stress, anger and demotivation. This constellation is one of the reasons for carrying out a practice management comparison in order to normalise work. The causes are not, as is unfortunately often assumed, bureaucratic regimentation or excessive patient demands, but mainly misadjustments in practice management:

In GP and specialist practices, only just under half of the best practice standards are used, i.e. those regulations, instruments and behavioural patterns that guarantee smoothly functioning practice operations even under changing omissions. This is also referred to as practice management insufficiency (PMI).

With benchmarking against PMI

The IFABS Practice Management Comparison©, a system that has been tried and tested and validated for twenty years, compares the practice conditions with the best practice standard and shows the as yet unused opportunities for improvement.

The picture is completed by a comparison with the professional group standard, which represents the conditions of practice management in practice enterprises of one’s own speciality.

This benchmarking is suitable for all specialities, practice forms and sizes. Optionally, in the case of MVZs or supra-regionally active practices and networks of doctors, an internal practice management comparison between individual therapy areas or members can also be carried out.

Particularly pleasing for practice teams: such a comparison of operations can be carried out without the need for an on-site consultant. The time required for the practice owner(s) to fill out the documentation forms is just thirty minutes, each MFA requires twenty minutes, supplemented by a short patient survey.

The company comparison as the consulting alternative of choice

GPs or specialists who are more intensively involved with the topic of „practice analysis / practice consultation“ must come to terms with the fact that such support services are often associated with high costs. For example, the average daily rate for consultants in practices is currently € 1,800, which corresponds to an hourly rate of about € 225.

Another „cost-driving“ component is the fact that many medical practitioners can only describe their problems non-specifically and consultants are forced to research the breadth of practice management. This search is time-consuming and thus naturally cost-intensive; an analysis is hardly feasible for less than two consulting days plus incidental costs, corresponding to an average of 3,900 euros.

In comparison, the business comparison is a real alternative: it generates an exact and detailed 360-degree status report with a list of all strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of the practice’s work for the costs that a consulting hour would cause. The associated action plan shows the necessary changes that can be implemented on one’s own.

What other benefits do doctors generally derive from an implementation?

Practice management analyses and evaluations are only of limited value if only the practice’s internal perspective is used, as misinterpretations and resulting errors in action can easily occur. The practice management comparison offers general practitioners and specialists ten fundamental advantages to avoid this situation and to systematically optimise practice management:

Objective status determination

By means of objective parameters, the practice comparison shows where a practice „stands“ by expanding the practice-internal view to include the relevant external action environment – the practice management in companies of the same speciality and the functional rules of successful practice management. This comparison leads to a comprehensive, structured 360-degree view of the current practice management constellation, evaluated on the basis of reality. Overall, this increases both the quality of analysis and the quality of decision-making.

The practice management comparison is an indispensable tool for obtaining important information for the analysis, planning, control and management of practice operations:

  • This enables practice teams to easily adapt to changed or changing conditions of action,
  • carried out regularly, the business comparison ensures that the practice work is always up to date,
  • after the establishment of a new practice and subsequently, before practice takeovers and cooperations, as well as for determining the value of the practice, its use is a must.

Fine tuning the quality of care

As described above, practice management functions as a transmitter of medical competence into patient care. The company comparison helps practice owners to check the quality of this transfer process by mirroring it with the external view and thus also to counter the dynamic upheaval taking place in the health care system.

Security through orientation

Practice management is a complex process with different areas of action that are closely interlinked and, to a large extent, condition and influence each other. For optimal functioning, the design parameters of these areas must mesh like finely tuned cogs.

The practice management inter-company comparison

  • systematises these interrelationships with the help of key performance indicators,
  • ensures transparency and controllability and
  • thus creates the „good feeling“ of always having everything in view.

Information and action advantage

Benchmarking one’s own management potential with the requirements and conditions of the health care landscape makes it possible to see to what extent the work is suitable for precisely implementing the practice strategy being pursued. Doctors who deal with their performance quality in this way are able to make better operational decisions much more easily and precisely.

Moreover, the knowledge of one’s own relative position becomes all the more important the higher the intensity of competition within one’s own catchment area.

Misalignment and risk minimisation

The operational comparison is able to uncover misalignments and risk factors and to categorise them in terms of their impact, which can lead to an impairment of

  • both the operational activity and
  • strategic development.

Creation of room for manoeuvre

Only by systematically „looking beyond one’s own nose“, which a comparison of operations makes possible, does one arrive at new insights and become motivated to eliminate identified weaknesses:

  • by comparing one’s own management potential with the requirements and conditions of the health care landscape, it becomes apparent to what extent the work is suitable for implementing the pursued practice strategy in a targeted manner.
  • Doctors who deal with their performance quality in this way are able to make better operational decisions much more easily and precisely,
  • knowledge of one’s own relative position also becomes all the more important the higher the intensity of competition within one’s own catchment area: practice teams that are located in an intensely competitive environment are put in a position to be able to reliably assess the competitive position of their operation through the comparison of operations.

Replacing assumptions with facts

The twofold comparison ensures an objective and realistic assessment of the practice management situation with the help of key figures; subjective assessments are replaced by concrete knowledge and thus counteract possible wrong decisions in a targeted manner.

Avoiding operational blindness

Routines help practice teams to meet the daily work requirements. Operational blindness arises when these are not or only inadequately reviewed over time and leads to declining performance. The Practice Management Comparison© counteracts this. It helps to define realistic goals, to set appropriate priorities for everyday work and to use the practice’s resources in a way that meets the requirements.

Steering practice management

The structured preparation of practice management with the help of indicators makes it possible to define concrete target parameters for practice work and to systematically check their development in follow-up examinations.

Improving the financial situation

Optimisation of practice management always has a direct positive effect on the cost situation, on turnover and on the practice result.j