The new year brings a fresh start for healthcare practices. When reflecting on last year, healthcare leaders can likely identify a combination of risks, challenges, and successes. A new year presents an opportunity not only to capitalize on those learnings and mistakes, but also, and perhaps more importantly, proactively plan for the future. Goal setting can serve as a guide to help trigger new behaviors, increase motivation, and manage time more effectively. Success throughout your practice depends on how you establish goals and intentionally use the experience and talent within your practice to achieve them.
Consider the following steps when setting goals for your practice in the new year:
- Review the previous year and acknowledge successes and failures.
- Set SMART goals – goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely
- Gather staff input on goals to promote transparency and inclusion.
- Do not set too many goals. While it can be good to be ambitious, setting too many goals can lead to confusion or even failure.
- Prioritize goals. Consider key focus areas, such as goals that provide the biggest challenges and complexities or those that most impact patient satisfaction or quality of care.
- Measure and monitor success. It goes without saying, but never set a goal and forget it. Check back frequently to assess progress and hold yourself and your team accountable.
Examples of goals to consider:
- Reduce Patient No-Show Rate
Patient no-shows happen for various reasons, such as patients’ financial situations, job-related conflicts, and environmental factors. Patient no-shows have a significant impact on practice productivity and overall performance. Time slots are blocked for a predetermined amount of time. If a patient fails to notify the practice or show up for their appointment, this can negatively impact the utilization of space and clinical resources. Consider taking actions such as running quarterly reports to assess percentage of no-shows, implementing policies for repeat offenders, and testing proactive methods of appointment reminders through SMS and patient portals.
- Improve Patient Satisfaction
Patient satisfaction refers to the quality of care the patient receives, but it is also a good indicator of how satisfied the patient is with their appointment and treatment. This measurement has always been a critical factor but has continued to draw more attention due to patients’ expectations for both ease of access and quality care through virtual visits. Your practice should assess its current level of patient satisfaction and develop carefully thought-out strategies to meet these new and changing demands.
- Improve Quality Measures
Ensure your practice is accurately capturing any CMS required quality measures. Falling short of any given measure requirement may limit your practice’s ability to keep up with competitors, achieve higher reimbursement rates, and, most importantly, provide quality care that is consistent with recommended treatment guidelines. Consider assigning a practice lead to produce and monitor these measures.
- Address Aging Accounts Receivable
The longer receivables go uncollected, the less likely they are to ever be collected, partially or in full. Consistently run an accounts receivable aging report, carefully review the different aging buckets and develop a plan to address balances that have a high chance of payment. Addressing these accounts can provide practices with a steady revenue stream to assist meeting budget. Consider setting a goal to achieve a specific reduction in overall accounts receivable.
- Increase Profitability
Achieving success and maintaining profitability in the healthcare industry requires healthcare providers to delicately balance patient care and practice management. The healthcare industry is becoming increasingly competitive, and it is important for practices to focus on providing quality patient care and reducing costs. Focus on identifying and eliminating inefficiencies in processes and unnecessary steps throughout the duration of the patient visit. The practice can utilize the saved time to increase patient visits and revenue. Consider setting a realistic goal to increase a specific service line’s profitability.
Whichever goal or goals you set out to achieve this year, remember to frequently measure and review your progress. Setting clear goals and sticking to them will keep you motivated and focused on achieving what is best for both your practice and your patients.
Patrick Garcia is an Associate Director with MMG Healthcare. His background includes experience in areas including practice management and oversight, strategy, revenue cycle management, planning, project management, process implementation, and systems integration. Patrick actively advises clients on behalf of MMG, supporting their efforts to deliver optimal business and clinical outcomes.