Leveraging KPIs To Avoid Chaos

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Measuring what matters in your practice provides an opportunity to help your team live out your mission, vision, and values

By Jeff Woodrich, PT

Running a practice can be a challenge.

Well, let’s be honest, it is a challenge. But the reward is so awesome that we absolutely love it anyway. In many cases, the challenges we face within our private practices are related to communication and organization. When we struggle to clearly communicate goals and objectives, we unintentionally create chaos for our teams, and that chaos leaves us feeling a bit underpowered or unprepared.

As organizational leaders, each of us is responsible for ensuring the chaos doesn’t impact the effectiveness and development of our team. It is our responsibility to find the best way to create an environment of clarity, organization, and proactive development.

As my own practice was growing, we found it helped to establish some key truths, or key standards, we could always look toward to keep our team aligned during the daily chaos. We measure what matters. Years married, ages of our children, our driving distance off the tee—they all matter. (Even if we might exaggerate the driving distance.) We want to measure what matters in our practice, too. Clinical care, patient experience, financials, and our team culture all are valuable, and we track them regularly.

“But wait!” you may be thinking. “Our therapists don’t like numbers.” Believe me—we’ve all heard this before. What our therapists absolutely love is taking care of their patients and being passionate about the service and quality care they provide. But by increasing their awareness of why key numerical information matters, you can frame a better understanding of this data and help your therapists understand how to use the numbers to provide the best possible service to their patients.

Essentially, that’s what key performance indicators (KPIs) are, and can be: information to help your team members become the best versions of themselves.

KPIs can provide a foundational check-in and transform the craziness of running a practice into a clear, organized, well-communicated opportunity. Here are some practical steps for you to consider when building your KPI dashboard, using clinical care as the primary consideration.

IDENTIFY

Create team buy-in and ultimately promote self-accountability by asking your clinical team how they think you can create objective measures that speak to three KPIs: your purpose, mission, and values. For example, the mission statement at my practice includes the phrase “provide extraordinary service and exceptional care.” We choose to measure “extraordinary service” with Net Promoter Scores and “exceptional care” with the a standardized outcomes tool at a determined utilization rate. Tying your KPIs to a measurement that is easy to track is an example of how you quickly you can build your KPI bank while simultaneously supporting your purpose, mission, and core values.

ESTABLISH

Now that you’ve determined your KPI options, how do you best assign a number to them? Some commonly used KPIs have standardized data to consider. Also, you can review your own data specific to these KPIs and select a number that reflects the standard. Keep in mind that using these KPIs helps ensure performance meets the standards you need and desire as an organization to in turn meet your strategic goals. Take time to develop solid targets. It is okay to revisit them annually as part of regular review process, but the more you fidget with them after they’ve been established, the more confusion and chaos you’ll ultimately create.

EDUCATE

Once you have selected your KPIs, begin educating your team with a regular cadence on why they are important; how they speak to your purpose, mission, and core values; and when you’ll evaluate and share them with your team. They’ll appreciate the consistency and how KPIs help them meet your standards and expectations. We’ve learned we must communicate the same message in more than one way if we want it to click with everyone. Therefore, we need to provide the information in various formats so that it is clear to everyone, regardless of their learning or communication style. We cannot expect everyone on our team to understand until we have built an education program that resonates with them.

REVIEW

As mentioned earlier in this article, we measure what matters most to us. Reviewing these details with your team reinforces that these KPIs are important to your organization and that you value your team members’ success and professional development. Thoughtful, detailed feedback is how we grow personally and professionally, so these reviews are important and valuable to both parties.

Transparency. Try to have your KPI data available for your team to review between sessions. You’ll find that some members of your team may want to see their information regularly and some won’t, but either way, having it a click away promotes your efforts at transparency. You can use a business intelligence tool and share access to data or simply export it to a weekly report. Either way, you want to avoid “gotcha data” where your team is surprised at your regular review time. Keep it simple. The longer an explanation you need to support the data, the less it is trusted and understood. Keep your KPIs simple, relevant, and powerful. Less can be more.

Discussion/Meeting. These meetings should be looked at as discussion opportunities with a leader to try to provoke great discourse with questions. Why are you doing so well with X KPI? What strategies do you use to meet Y KPI? Where can we support you with Z KPI? We want to have these discussions be productive for both parties; teach them how to understand performance KPIs: learn from successes and failures; and, most important, how to accept constructive feedback, learn effective processes, and adjust when needed.

CEMENTING IN CLARITY WITH OWNERSHIP

Now that you’ve laid a solid foundation, a final step with your leadership team is establishing who owns or is responsible for each KPI. What we’ve learned from experience at my practice is that when clear KPI ownership isn’t established, it creates confusion with the key stakeholders, and confusion chips away at the trust and confidence in your team.

We use our organization chart to outline key KPIs for each stakeholder. This strategy can be effective at helping see the big picture regardless of the size of your organization. If you have one person responsible for a variety of KPIs, it might be the perfect opportunity to expand your leadership team and advance appropriate team members into a leadership role.

As leaders, we are responsible and trusted to make our organization, and every person within, the very best version they can become. A great first step to ensure this outcome is to identify, establish, educate, review, and own the KPIs that align with your purpose, mission, and core values. This will help you cut the chaos to more manageable levels and enjoy your journey as a private practice owner and leader. 

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Jeff Woodrich, PT

Jeff Woodrich, PT, serves as the CEO of Buffalo Rehab Group, which serves western New York with 12 locations. Jeff can be reached at jeff@buffalorehab.com.

Copyright © 2018, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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