Better efficiency and higher productivity through digitization in the medical practice: A case study

Data, facts and instruments on the German health system

What it’s all about

How can the introduction of digital tools benefit a medical practice? This case study on the introduction of a system for online appointment booking shows it.

A general practice in trouble

While conducting a Practice Management Operational Comparison© in a general practice with three practitioners, the quality of care assessment for the „Organization“ service area yielded a Patient Care Quality Score (PCQS, the ratio of patient satisfaction to practice visitor demands) of -14% (optimum: 100%). The score signaled that the lowest requirements were significantly undermet. The assessment identified extremely poor telephone accessibility, as well as the appointment process itself and very long waiting times in the practice, as causes.

Digital problem solving and its effects

In order to relieve the staff on the practice telephone, the practice owners followed the benchmarking expertise and created the possibility of online appointment bookings, which was supplemented by further organizational restructuring, which the benchmarking had also revealed. Control investigations by PCQS revealed a positive score of 37.4% just one quarter after the system was introduced and publicized, which increased to a score of 71% after another quarter. By this time, more than half of practice visitors were booking their appointments through the online process. This freed up important staff capacity and time resources in the practice. Employee satisfaction also improved significantly and measurably.

Much room for improvement

The case study illustrates the opportunities available to physicians in private practice to make minor and, above all, inexpensive digital adjustments to their practice in order to work more efficiently, more productively and, ultimately, more successfully. The extent of the untapped performance potential in German medical practices in general is shown by a value determined with the IFABS Business Comparison Tracker©. The system documents and analyzes the practice management activities of general practitioners, specialists and dentists along with the effects achieved. This long-term study method for macro- and micro-analysis of outpatient practice management is based on a dynamically evolving collective of currently more than 15,000 Practice Management Operational Comparisons© conducted in medical and dental practices. The score indicates that, on average, family physicians and specialists do not use 47% of the best practice standard, i.e. those regulations, instruments and behaviors that ensure smoothly functioning practice activities even under changing stresses.