The benefits of adding a patient care representative to your team.
By Brian J. Gallagher, PT
Innovation is happening all around us today in the health care industry and typically results in greater efficiency and productivity. In private practice, we are always looking for ways that we can supersede yesterday to deliver a better, higher quality service and product to our patients. The idea that a service can and does produce a product is a new concept for some, but for others they have long since recognized they have been innovating new products.
Consider this innovative approach, broken down into four steps, to be completed in order:
- Environment: Do you have the best environment that is most conducive to producing your optimal products such as the best location, office access, internal spaces, and equipment?
- Structure: Do you have a company organization chart with all positions accounted for and specifically defined products that are needed from each position, as well as the statistics on how you are going to measure them?
- Personnel: So many of the owners tell me that they are tired of adult babysitting and need a method to change their staff’s behavior. This can easily be done when you are managing by statistics based on one’s production and not one’s personality.
- Systems of Operations: Knowing the products for each position and how to measure them statistically, so that each week your staff is operating off a weekly action plan, will enable them to confront and deal with their problems and barriers effectively and efficiently. You can finally forget about having to “micromanage” their actions because they are now accountable for reporting on what their results have been each week.
Positions—> Products —> Stats —> Battle Planning
So what do you need to do to be able to pull it off successfully? Well, when I graduated from physical therapy school in 1992 all that was needed for a thriving practice was a good team of therapists and someone at the front desk who was friendly, organized, and competent. That’s simply not enough today. The addition of a patient care representative (PCR) to your marketing and administrative team is required.
I could not imagine running my practice today without a PCR working as the patient liaison, social media coordinator, and statistical reporter. As a patient advocate they collect patient testimonials, new patient surveys, intracare and discharge surveys in addition to organizing all holiday parties, patient/staff games, and monthly contests. Their skill set should include working the social media lines and processing all reports and statistical data for the management team to battle plan off of each week. Creating a “weekly battle plan” that is not a “to do list” but is based on the key statistics you are measuring will maximize your staff efficiency.
Some of the most common products that we all track statistically are
- New Patients
- Patient Visits
But do you know some of the most vital statistics that we should be tracking?
Gross income divided by staff: This tells us how productive each staff member is each week.
Number of reactivated patients: the number of patients who have fallen off the schedule, who we worked back into the schedule.
Percentage of new patients who are return patients: any past patient, or friend or family member of a past patient, who comes in.
Prescribed frequency ratio: the percentage of patients who are being seen three times a week, twice a week, or once a week.
Percentage of prescribed visits: the percentage of patients who actually adhere to their Plan of Care’s prescribed frequencies each week.
Practices that have set up their corporate structure in such a way that they now have a PCR to gather this data have a truly innovative system of operation. Yet there are still owners who are not tracking these vitally important statistics and who fail to have a PCR on board. I have seen this system firsthand and know it to be a true innovation that will help us succeed in today’s physical therapy environment. With a PCR in place, you will see an increase in gross revenue, as well as experiencing greater employee retention.
Brian J. Gallagher, PT, is the chief executive officer of MEG Business Management, LLC, in Severna Park, Maryland. With more than 24 years’ experience in the field of rehabilitation and 19 years in business, he specializes in physical therapy practice management and executive coaching nationwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.