MGMA research identifies hallmarks of ‘better-performing’ practices

The Medical Group Management Association identified 549 “better-performing medical practices” among nearly 2,000 respondents to its 2011 Cost Survey. Those high performers excelled in the areas of profitability and cost management; productivity, capacity and staffing; accounts receivable and collections; and patient satisfaction.

MGMA (now known as MGMA-ACMPE after its 2011 merger with the American College of Medical Practice Executives) recently released findings of the research in a study titled “Performance and Practices of Successful Medical Groups: 2011 Report Based on 2010 Data.” Among the highlights:

  • Profitability and cost management.
 In this area, better-performing medical practices reported less bad debt due to fee-for-service (FFS) activity per full-time-equivalent (FTE) physician. These groups reported approximately $6,900 to $14,000 less in bad debt than other practices.
  • Accounts receivable and collections.
 High-performing groups in this category reported collecting their receivables more quickly than their peers. They had only 7 to 10 percent of their total accounts receivable (A/R) in the 120+ days category. In contrast, the other groups had 19 to 35 percent of their total A/R in the 120+ day category, indicating that strong cash flow is crucial to the success of any practice. Additionally, 50 percent of better-performers reported collecting 90-100 percent of co-payments at the time of service.
  • Productivity, capacity, and staffing. Better-performing practices in this area implemented operational efficiencies to ensure strong provider productivity, including employing non-physician providers such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners and certified nurse anesthetists (62.8 percent); they also ensured efficient patient flow through the practice (69.28 percent). In addition, better-performers reported higher support staff and ancillary support staff costs per FTE physician, ensuring optimal staffing to leverage physician time.
  • Patient satisfaction. Groups that excelled in this category indicated that they use formal patient satisfaction surveys in which more than half requested feedback on appointment availability (59.2 percent), professionalism of the staff (57.8 percent), wait times (56.5 percent), and patients' overall experience (60.5 percent). More than 60 percent used patient satisfaction surveys to evaluate and improve practice operations, and more than 55 percent educated physicians and staff about behavior based on survey results.

“Looking closely at medical practices that comprise the ‘better-performers’ group, you notice a pattern,” explained Susan Turney, MD, MS, FACP, FACMPE, MGMA-ACMPE president and CEO. “It is important for physicians and staff to communicate well and focus on the needs of their patients.  Being a successful medical practice is a process of having the right people with the right training doing the right things at the right time.”

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