Utilizing Meaningful Data to Engage Our Stakeholders
Explore how to position data for four key stakeholder groups: employees, patients, physicians, and the community.
By Bryanne Johnson and Paul Martin, MPT
Industries across the board rely heavily on data analytics to make important operational and financial decisions, and the physical therapy industry is no exception.
Private practice owners put patient care at the forefront of everything they do; 2020 reinforced that we cannot provide great patient care unless we also focus on the data and the metrics that drive the success of a business. We have learned that in order to survive and thrive in the current environment, we need to direct energy and attention towards data analytics and empower our teams to do the same. By shifting our focus toward monitoring and reporting certain key performance indicators (KPIs), we can engage our stakeholders to react, adapt, and make decisions based on the data. To do so, we need to streamline our data and make it meaningful to the different stakeholders in our companies.
How do we engage our most important stakeholders with the data that impacts and matters most to them?
STAKEHOLDER #1: THE EMPLOYEE
Have your employees take part in the budgeting process. Empower them to have a voice in what is and is not attainable. Let them see how each scenario impacts the bottom line. Encourage your team to provide input on establishing tangible targets, such as the number of new patients, number of visits, visits per new patient, visits/units per day/hour, or Net Promotor Score.
Including your entire team, clinical and administrative, in these initial conversations helps them understand the “why” behind what is expected of them. It will enable your staff to communicate “objectively” as opposed to “subjectively” and will alleviate friction down the road when therapists appear to be overbooked or there are too many new patients to be scheduled. Read more about ways to engage employees in benchmarking and KPI discussions in Jim Stoker’s article, “How to Engage Staff in Creating and Using a Dashboard for Metric Improvement.”
As private practice owners, we fear that our staff will frown upon the sharing of operational and financial numbers. What we have seen is practices that focus on clinical excellence and patient-centered care are able to create a culture in which everyone feels like part of the business team. Create a dashboard or a spreadsheet that enables your employees to view these critical metrics against a target on a weekly basis. The clinic director can share these numbers with all staff in a “huddle” meeting, gathering briefly to discuss these key measures. See Mike Osler’s article, “The What, Why, and How to Get the Most From Your Dashboards,” for an in-depth discussion on effectively using dashboards on page 44. If we present accessible data and seek input from staff members, employees will be motivated to participate in these discussions. For example, front desk employees will see the financial impact of missed authorizations, upfront co-pay and deductible collections, as well as common denial trends. A position-based incentive program can be used to further motivate employees to meet or even exceed targets. Our experience is that employees will feel invested in these metrics if a portion of their compensation is based on performance in these key areas of the business.
STAKEHOLDER #2: THE PATIENT
Provide your patients with accurate expectations of their insurance coverage at the very first visit. Walk the patient through their plan of care so they know how many visits and copayments to expect. Stress the importance of completing their plan of care and provide solutions to any potential cancellations, including the benefits and effectiveness of telehealth as an alternative when they are not able to attend an in-person visit.
Does the patient require an authorization? Keep them engaged with their insurance plan and benefits. Track this diligently behind the scenes and let the patient know how hard you are working to obtain this for their care. A robust tracking process will also minimize unauthorized visits.
Empower your patients with their outcome data. Share their baseline results as well as where they should be at the end of treatment. Make their progress tangible–give them a “report card” listing the outcomes you are measuring so they can record them and really “see” their progress. They will be motivated, and you will be demonstrating the value of your care. Do the same with home exercise programs. There are many programs and applications that record patient participation so both therapist and patient can monitor compliance and celebrate accomplishments. An interactive platform that summarizes activity data and makes it meaningful will motivate patients to engage and invest in their treatment.
STAKEHOLDER #3: THE PHYSICIAN
Track the number of referrals and converted referrals from each specific physician. Compare trends between your liaison team and your scheduling team. Are there issues with obtaining referrals or issues with converting referrals? Analyze cancellation trends per physician. Follow up with physicians about unsuccessful referrals, and identify those patients who either never scheduled or did not attend their evaluation. Make this data meaningful to the physician by demonstrating the missed opportunity to bring their patient back to optimal health. Depending on the size of your practice, these metrics and marketing activities should be tracked in a customer relationship management software.
For each referral source, use a tool that not only tracks the number of referrals sent in a given month, but also compares this metric to the same month last year, as well as year to date referrals. This data will be powerful for your liaisons and clinic directors, focusing them on key referral sources that have trended up, or down, and providing them a high level of certainty on who they should be targeting.
Engage with physicians by providing your outcome tools and data. Package your patient outcomes to make the most impact. For example: Patients who come to us with diagnosis X achieve a better outcome as compared to the local and national market trends, inserting your data as applicable. Meaningful data is not just numbers and charts …. share and celebrate their patients’ success stories using a tablet or phone. A picture or video is worth a thousand pieces of data!
STAKEHOLDER #4: THE COMMUNITY
There are many tools and resources that make it easy to engage with your community. Keep Google My Business up to date and ensure you are visible on Google searches. Conduct geofencing and geo-targeting campaigns. Monitor visits and clicks in order to track your return on investment (ROI) and success rate, which generally vary across regions.
Staying active on social media can increase interest and drive visits to your practice. Post patient success stories. Recognize community members. Highlight community events and initiatives you participate in and support. Demonstrate your expertise by posting health promotion educational sessions that tie into the services you provide. Share your Net Promoter Scores.
Be sure to analyze patient data to determine your “target audience” in your community. This can relate to gender, age, specific injuries, and any other relevant factors. What outcomes have you achieved for these patients? And where do these patients spend time in your community? Now you can focus your marketing efforts on specific groups of patients you have had the most success treating in the past. Use this methodology to determine your next “niche” program. The group of patients you have been “best for” in the past is often the same group that will be the basis for a new venture. Each stakeholder plays an integral role in the success of your practice, as well as the improvement in the lives of your patients. Make arming your stakeholders with meaningful data a priority and publicize outcomes against the internal standards you have set.
Your team will be happier and more productive if they have concrete, measurable goals, and are incentivized to exceed those expectations. Your patients, physicians and community constantly need to be reminded of the value of physical therapy in general and your practice in particular. If you engage and educate your stakeholders with meaningful data-driven analytics, each one will appreciate exactly how their efforts contribute to the success of your practice.