Fit for the Future: Controlling Family Practice and Specialist Practice Management with the Help of Indicators

Data, facts and instruments on the German health system

What it’s all about

A 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 primarily that „practice management“ is a conglomerate of many different areas of action that are closely interrelated and, to a large extent, condition and influence each other. Only when these areas – from planning, patient management, leadership and organization to marketing, market research and controlling – mesh like finely tuned cogs can management excellence be achieved.

Classical solutions only help to a limited extent

In this context, applying the tips, tricks and advice provided to practice owners from a wide variety of sources does not lead to a noticeable change in their work, because – as described – this is only possible in a holistic manner.

Seminars sometimes impart knowledge about individual or several of these interdependencies, but the content inevitably follows the „one-size-fits-all“ principle, so that the participating physicians – returning to their practices – have expanded knowledge, but still no plan for concrete action.

The last resort is to use consultants, but a complete analysis of practice management is too expensive for many physicians.

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 for the concept of key performance indicators (KPIs), which

  • solves the aforementioned problem of the complexity of practice management by generating orientation variables,
  • makes it possible to determine the actual state of practice management without great effort and
  • simultaneously 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 key performance indicators that are created by comparing the practice management data of a medical practice with objective and representative measured variables. For this purpose, structured analysis forms (physician, MFA, patients, referring physicians, if applicable) are first used to describe the design of the practice management and then made measurable in the subsequent evaluation by means of scaling. 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 best practice and specialty group benchmarking. The best practice comparison shows whether all regulations, instruments and behaviors that ensure smooth practice operation are actually implemented. The specialist group ratio provides additional information on the extent to which the practice management examined meets the minimum market standard. The KPIs determined result in a detailed status overview of the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of the practice under investigation, with a detailed action plan for improvements, changes and developments.Furthermore

individual practice management development goals can be formed based on the practice strategy and monitored for progress in implementation.

Thus, a KPI status report is equivalent 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 questionnaires that are easy to fill out, without the need for an on-site consultant:

  • the physician’s questionnaire takes about 30 minutes to complete,
  • the MFA document is completed in about 20 minutes,
  • in addition, a patient survey is conducted 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 suggestions themselves with their teams or whether they want to call on 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 parties can be precisely narrowed down and defined.