How to leverage surgery data to make better business decisions
Now that online shopping has become such an integral part of our everyday lives, it’s hard to imagine how we shopped without it. Likewise, in the business world, it’s hard to believe that (not so long ago) we ever made critical business decisions without the insight of so many data points. Whether your industry is cosmetics or clothing, every manager needs data to make informed decisions.
Naturally, every business has its nuances. If you’re running a surgical practice, there are a number of data points that can directly affect your practice’s bottom line. Here are five examples of data that could critically improve your decision-making ability.
1. How many surgeries are being canceled, and why?
Considering the average reimbursement rate per surgery could almost buy your family a week’s vacation in Florida, every cancellation is revenue gone AWOL (averaging $4,500 a pot!). Given the grave costs, it’s startling that not all practice managers have the data on how many cancellations occur within a given time period, or access to insights explaining why they are happening.
There are many reasons why surgeries get canceled. The patient eats before surgery, got their surgery date and time confused, didn’t receive their clearance in time, or the equipment didn’t get ordered. Or they simply woke up with a fever on the morning of surgery. Inevitably, some cancellations are more avoidable than others.
When staff begin to log the reasons for cancellations, patterns emerge. Being able to analyze this data empowers managers to implement new ways to mitigate the circumstances leading to canceled surgeries. For instance, if mixups are occurring on surgery day, scheduling a call to patients two days prior to surgery – reminding them about date, time, location, fasting policy and which meds to refrain from taking – can produce surprisingly positive results. Another simple measure to implement is to create a checklist to ensure all clearances and authorizations are received before the surgery.
2. Is block time maximized and used efficiently?
The only thing worse than a surgeon throwing a hissy fit over a cancellation is an unused slot in his block. Every minute in the OR could pay for a round of golf at the local country club or open up a slot for a patient that’s (anxiously) waited months for an opening. So when a surgeon has unused block time, there really is something to scream about.
Practice managers should be able to generate reports to confirm whether surgeons are filling up their block time. This will let them know if the schedulers are maximizing their available time slots and ensuring the practice is generating as much surgical revenue as possible. If slots are not being filled, managers can implement some sort of audit or formal guideline to guarantee less hissy fits and more importantly, ensure the practice is “operating” at full capacity.
3. Number of surgeries scheduled per surgeon
Monitoring the performance of surgeons is the bread and butter of any surgical practice. As both the most significant revenue generators and the most costly payroll expense, your surgeons’ productivity is key to the long-term financial health of the practice. So it’s imperative that managers be able to able to determine whether numbers are up, down, or on target.
Running the numbers can also reveal if specific surgeons are meeting with more surgical candidates and need more block time (no-one wants to keep patients waiting longer than necessary for a surgery date!). Alternatively, if other surgeons are meeting with less candidates and underfilling their quotas, they may need more patients to fill their block times. Managers may need to redistribute resources within the practice to ensure everyone’s schedules are running at capacity.
4. Number of surgeries scheduled at each facility
This data point is particularly relevant and valuable if the practice has a physician-owned ASC. In this case, then ideally, as many surgeries as possible should be scheduled at this facility.
Reviewing the numbers regularly, coupled with the types of surgeries scheduled at each facility, is key to pushing more surgeries to be performed at the ASC. Managers can set parameters for schedulers to guide them and ensure they schedule every possible surgery at the ASC (assuming the procedure fits the requirements). But they can only analyze the effectiveness of their protocols if they have the data to track it.
5. Number of patients requiring follow-up
Many patients come to the practice for a consultation with the surgeon, are recommended surgery, but don’t schedule a date on the spot. They want to think about it, talk it over with their spouse, check insurance options, and so on. They often ask the scheduler to check in with them again by phone after X days. But with so many tasks to juggle, schedulers don’t always get to it, and the surgery never gets scheduled. Capturing this information in a system where the scheduler or manager can generate an instant report on which patients requires follow up (and why) is an easy win for getting more surgeries on the schedule. Needless to say, this translates into more revenue for the practice.
We need more screen time, not less
While it’s true that outside of work we definitely need to curb our smartphone usage, ironically, when it comes to data analysis in the office, managers need to ensure that more screen time is dedicated every month. Data aggregation is no longer a nice-to-have IT acquisition; it’s a must-have in today’s business reality… the stakes are too high to sit this one out. And if the data mentioned above is not easily obtainable, then managers need to seek out a platform that can capture this data and provide insights on an ongoing basis. Even within the hectic environment and day-to-day issues at a surgical practice, data analysis needs to be consistently slotted into the manager’s “block time” every month. And just like each surgery, if performed correctly, it will yield high reimbursements.