How to leverage surgery data to make better business decisions

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 would shop 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 can vastly improve decisions for your surgical practice.

1. How Many Surgeries Are Being Canceled, And Why?

Considering the average reimbursement rate per surgery could almost buy a family vacation in Florida, every cancellation is revenue gone AWOL (averaging $4,500 a pot).

surgeon on vacation with her kids

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 might accidentally:

  • Eat before surgery
  • Misunderstand the surgery date or time
  • Not receive their clearance in time
  • Got sick

Or maybe it’s something else like the equipment didn’t get ordered. Inevitably, some cancellations are more avoidable than others.

When staff begin to log the reasons for cancellations, patterns emerge. Analyzing 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 the date, time, location, fasting policy, and which meds to refrain from taking — can produce surprisingly positive results.

Another simple measure, implement a checklist to ensure all clearances and authorizations are received before the surgery.

2. Is Block Time Maximized And Used Efficiently?

surgeon arms crossed

The only thing worse than a surgeon getting upset over a cancellation is an unused slot in their 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 who’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 have the capability to generate reports confirming whether or not 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 more importantly, ensure the practice is “operating” at full capacity.

3. Number of Surgeries Scheduled Per Surgeon

surgical coordinator reviewing surgical data report

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 these 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 fewer 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, 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). However, 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, and 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 a few days. But with so many tasks to juggle, it can be easy to lose track of a callback, 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 require 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

surgical coordinator entering surgical data

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.

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