How to Engage Staff in Creating and Using a Dashboard for Metric Improvement
Learn not just what metrics matter, but how to improve them.
By Jim Stoker, PT, MA and Rachel Siltman, MSc
The business principle of knowing and understanding metrics is well-accepted for managing any business.
This is evident by many excellent articles previously included in Impact that have addressed the subject of business metrics and metric management. PPS President Mike Horsfield and Debbie Healy recently presented on the topic Metrics that Matter at the 2020 PPS virtual annual conference.1 Knowing what to do is a part of the equation but knowing how is even more important. The following steps may help tackle this challenge.
STEP 1: KPI ASSESSMENT
Complete an objective assessment of key performance indicators (KPIs) to clarify the strengths and opportunities within your practice. Reviewing key metrics for 90 days or longer will allow you to identify priorities by therapist and by clinic. Look at the following six clinical metrics as a starting place:
- Visits per week, day, or treatment hour
- New patients per week
- Procedures per visit
- Procedures per clinical hour
- Visits per new patient
- Patient arrival rate
STEP 2: EVALUATE METRICS
Identify which metrics highlight your strengths and which metrics present an opportunity to add value to your practice. The Section provides numerous resources, including the PPS KPI Benchmarking Program, to compare your metrics against industry averages. Knowing how your metrics compare to industry benchmarks allows you to identify areas of potential opportunity. While each practice has a unique mission, vision, and strategic goals, benchmarks can provide an objective comparison to hundreds of similar practices.
STEP 3: CALCULATE ROI
Determine which metrics provide the largest return on investment (ROI) or biggest “bang for your buck.” Since time and people are our most valuable resources, having a well-devised plan to focus both time and energy is immensely valuable. Peter Drucker, the well-known business management educator suggests, “There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.”2 Completing a return on investment (ROI) calculation for each identified opportunity will allow you to monetize the potential of improvement over time.
The following example demonstrates an ROI calculation for two basic metrics. This ROI calculation assumes three clinicians, four new patients/week per clinician, and $90 payment per visit. Visits per new patient (VPN) and units per visit (UPV) are generally considered metrics that can provide insight to both patient engagement and business success. What is best for the patient is also good for business. VPN demonstrates patient engagement. Patients that complete their full plan of care are committed to their therapy and appreciate the value they receive from therapy.
Procedures or Units Per Visit reflects the quantity of quality care received by each patient. UPV targets should take into account patient schedules, payer mix, payer rules, and clinic arrival rates.
STEP 4: PRIORITIZE OPPORTUNITIES TO MAXIMIZE ROI
Prioritize opportunities that provide the best ROI to determine which metrics belong on your weekly dashboard. Pursuing too many goals at one time typically results in a lack of focus and not fully engaging in the achievement of the top priorities that provide a valuable ROI and fit the mission and vision of your practice.
STEP 5: ENGAGE STAFF
Engage key staff and create a guiding coalition for change. Now we are getting down to the real challenge of engaging employees to facilitate change and goal achievement. To facilitate change requires the ability to communicate the WHY to all stakeholders. Get buy-in from key staff and build support for change throughout the entire team. Consider short-term wins/incentives that will reward staff for helping to achieve the ROI for each initiative. This encompasses all staff that will play a role in achieving each goal. Consider the following questions:
- How will this initiative add value to the patient experience?
- How will this initiative enhance a positive company culture?
- What is in it for staff? What are the short-term wins for them?
STEP 6: SET GOALS TOGETHER
After clearly articulating the WHY, engage staff in setting clear and measurable goals with the team. This sounds a little like developing a plan of care, right? Essentially, that is what you are doing for your practice.
STEP 7: FOLLOW UP
Once goals are established, consistent follow up and review is paramount. To achieve treatment goals, patients must be active participants in their plan of care. Similarly, staff must consistently and actively participate to achieve clinic improvement goals. Weekly accountability meetings are ideal to review progress toward each goal.
STEP 8: REPORT BACK
Create a compelling dashboard. A good dashboard brings that data to life and tells you if the metric is trending up or down and how the performance compares to the established goal. You should be able to quickly glance at your dashboard to make adjustments in a timely manner. Figure 2 shows the starting point for each metric and tracks weekly progress toward the agreed upon goal.
STEP 9: ENGAGE IN GROUP DISCUSSION
The most important aspect of the weekly review is fostering team discussion to objectify the actions and behaviors that create success and progress toward goals. Proactive problem-solving and revising action plans is also important when there is a lack of progress toward goals. Tracking action plans and asking staff for input is vital for engagement. Consider tracking action plans and creating engagement by having staff come prepared to weekly meetings with clear questions to key discussion points (Figure 3).
STEP 10: APPOINT GROWTH CHAMPIONS
Last, depending on the size of your team, you may identify champions to foster daily engagement. Empower your staff. Use this opportunity to develop leaders who can support your practice’s growth.
1Horsfield M, Healy D. Metrics That Matter. 2020 PPS Annual Conference. October 29, 2020.
2Hartman B. Peter Drucker understood agile leadership and agility before it even existed! Agile for All. https://agileforall.com/peter-drucker-understood-agile-leadership-and-agility-before-it-even-existed/#:~:text=So%20my%20challenge%20to%20you,as%20part%20of%20your%20job. Published November 16, 2015.
3Kotter J. Leading Change: Why Transformational Efforts Fail. Harvard Business Review. June 1995.
Jim Stoker, PT, MA, is a former practice owner and senior consultant at 8150 Advisors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rachel Siltman, MSc, is the director of financial analytics at 8150 Advisors and can be reached at email@example.com.