Medical practice of the future: Clear scope for effectiveness and efficiency in practice management

Data, facts and instruments on the German health system

What it’s all about

The terms „effectiveness“ and „efficiency“ are among the almost unethical taboo topics for many established general practitioners and specialists. The young generation of doctors sees things quite differently and has no fear of being touched here, as they operate with a different mindset and have recognised the central importance of the two working principles for their practice management.

The long way from effectiveness to efficiency

Effective is action that serves to achieve a goal in the best possible way. It is efficient when the required effort is as low as possible.

For example, medical assistants working at the reception desk can take patient calls to make appointments in addition to their other duties. This serves the purpose, but experience has shown that it is not effective because staff are tied up in purely administrative work, the response time to calls is considerably longer and there is a risk that important information will be lost. An effective alternative is to outsource the practice telephone to its own separate workstation. However, it cannot be classified as efficient either, as the effort required to achieve the goal hardly changes. However, efficiency is achieved, for example, by introducing an online appointment booking system. This variant frees up personnel and work capacity and at the same time ensures optimal appointment utilisation; the relationship between effort and result improves significantly and sustainably.

The practice management decides

In medical practices, there is a multitude of levers in all areas of practice management, from planning, organisation, leadership, marketing and patient care to controlling, to increase efficiency, i.e. to improve the relationship between results and expenditure.

The objective can be either to achieve the same result as before with a lower use of resources or to achieve a higher output with the same input. The respective orientation is determined by the practice management. It is guided by the requirements that the practice is confronted with due to the digital transformation, new health policy orientations and changing patient behaviour.

The fast track to the optimum

But how can the aforementioned approaches be identified? The simplest and quickest method is to compare the practice-specific circumstances with the Best Practice Standard (BPS) of practice management.

This Key Performance Indicator (KPI) describes all instruments, routines and behaviours that are necessary for smoothly functioning work, even under changing pressures.

From an implementation rate of 60%, effectiveness and efficiency are increasingly ensured.

Unfortunately, only about half of the BPS is used in German medical practices. The potential that exists due to this deficit is shown by selected figures of the IFABS Betriebsvergleich-Monitor für haus- und fachärztliches Praxismanagement©:

On average, for example, 75 approaches are used in ophthalmology practices, 64 in dermatology practices and more than 100 in MVZs, regardless of the specialty group.

Efficient practice management is thus, as the figures and even more the before-and-after experiences from change and optimisation projects prove, a central success factor in outpatient medicine, both in the present and even more so in the future.

More information on the possibilities of the practice management comparison for general practitioners and specialists (German)…

©IFABS / Thill