The Financial Benefit of Benchmarking in Emergency Medicine

As the healthcare system evolves, emergency care providers are increasingly challenged to go beyond the scope of traditional clinical medicine. In addition to treating emergent complaints, emergency physicians must now also provide efficient, timely and cost effective care.

A comprehensive grasp of benchmarking best practices has become a necessity for Emergency Department leaders who wish to be successful in providing patient centered care and improving patient satisfaction.

A benchmark is a unit of measurement used to assess the performance of a function, activity or business relative to others. Benchmarking entails a continuous and collective effort to quantify and compare the result of key processes with those of the best performers in the industry.

Benchmarking In Emergency Medicine

Benchmarking in emergency medicine serves three purposes:

  • To evaluate the operation: Benchmarking organizations determine the strengths and weaknesses of their current processes, investigate critical cost factors, examine customer feedback and complaints, identify areas for improvement and cycle time reduction, develop strategies to reduce defects and errors, and increase returns.
  • To incorporate best practices: Benchmarking organizations use this practice as a tool for self-improvement by examining superior practices and working to emulate these findings. Incorporating best practices ultimately leads to increased revenue and financial growth.
  • To become the industry leader: Organizations that participate in benchmarking must strive to become the top performer.

Ultimately, benchmarking can result in tangible financial gains due to breakthroughs in performance and the building of a more efficiently run emergency medicine department.

Here Are Four Of The Most Important Benchmarks That Should Be Prioritized By Emergency Physicians.

#1. Door-To-Doctor Times

A primary concern to patients is the length of time they will spend waiting to see a doctor after their arrival. Therefore, as a physician it is crucial to address patients in the least amount of time. The industry standard of excellence is a less than 30-minute door-to-doc time with the top performers addressing patients in 10 minutes. This is in comparison to the average ED seeing patients in 40 minutes or more.

The Financial Benefit Of Benchmarking In Emergency Medicine

Meeting this expectation results in increased satisfaction amongst patients and administration, as well as the provision of higher quality care.

#2. Left Without Being Seen

Long wait times in response to emergent complaints could result in a higher percentage of patients who leave the emergency room before seeing a healthcare provider. This statistic is closely measured by administration as it results in lost revenue and an increased risk for liability suits. The median percentage of LWBS is 2.6%. This, in comparison to the standard of excellence, being 1%.

Ultimately, this number correlates to patient satisfaction scores which could result in financial gains or loss and should therefore be continuously monitored.

“Left without being seen numbers correlate to patient satisfaction scores which could result in financial gains or loss and should therefore be continuously monitored.”
Physician’s Weekly

#3. Patient Satisfaction Surveys

The United States healthcare system operates as a competitive, free enterprise, resulting in revenue becoming closely linked to patient satisfaction due to new pay-for-performance initiatives. As such, patient satisfaction has been dubbed “The Indispensable Outcome.”

Emergency physicians face the challenge of developing a positive physician-patient relationship in a very limited amount of time. They must be able to communicate their concern for the patient and their family without the benefit of an already established rapport.

Success in this endeavor results in increased perceived quality of care, increased patient satisfaction, and ultimately financial gain.

#4. Receipts Per Patient

Perhaps the most important benchmark for your bottom line is the monies collected per patient. How successful is your collections process? You can evaluate this process by calculating your net collection rate.

This number helps you gauge the health of your revenue cycle by determining how much revenue is lost as a result of factors including untimely filing, uncollectable debt, and other non-contractual adjustments.

There is no nationwide benchmark on Receipts Per Patient (RPP) because components such as Payer Mix come into play. A practice leader should, however, know where their current RPP is and identify any deficiencies are that could lead to increases.

In most cases, DuvaSawko has identified up to a 30% increase in RPP for clients. Multiply that increase by the practices annual visit volume, and that leads to an immediate impact on revenues!

The 3-Step Process To Benchmarking In Emergency Medicine

Step 1: Know Your Metrics.

The key to success in any emergency medicine benchmarking initiative is meticulous planning and preparation. After you’ve recognized the need for benchmarks, determine the most effective methodology to be used to collect the necessary information.

At this stage, you determine what will be measured, how it will be measured, and the appropriate methodology for data collection. By deciding what will be included, the practice can establish the metrics to be used; these must be well-defined to ensure comparability of the datasets to be collected.

We outlined four important metrics above you can use as a starting point:

  1. Door-to-Doctor Times
  2. Left Without Being Seen
  3. Patient Satisfaction
  4. Receipts Per Patient
The Financial Benefit Of Benchmarking In Emergency Medicine

Learn more about Reporting And Analytics For Emergency Medicine Physicians

Depending on the areas that require attention within your practice, you may have a mix of more quantitative data, but qualitative data (ex. What can we do to improve patient satisfaction?) can be measured and improved as well. While the aforementioned four metrics are a good starting point, you may want to include other statistical information such as:

  • Daily Visit Reconciliation
  • Visits Summary
  • Aged Accounts Receivable by Date of Service
  • Aged Accounts Receivable by Posted Date
  • Progression Reports – Visits, Adjustments, Charges, payments
  • Collections by Payer
  • RVU Report
  • Billing Summary Report
  • Collectible Receivables

These are just a few of the many metrics you’ll get with a robust ED reporting software.

Step 2: Identify Areas Of Improvement.

Of course, all this data means nothing if you don’t know how to use it to make improvements. At this stage, your next goal is to establish completeness and accuracy.

A valuable and complete analysis indicates your practice’s strengths and weaknesses, identifies gaps between the practice’s performance in comparison to industry leaders, and helps determine possible recommendations to focus improvement efforts.

Once you determine, for example, visits and collections over a given period of time, you can determine if there is a gap in your emergency department’s performance. If a gap is identified, you can then project a trend for the future.

Time is not the only measurement of improvement; your ED may also want to analyze performance against additional metrics such as:

  • ​Cost Center
  • Payor
  • Provider
  • Procedure Codes
  • Patient Age
  • Service Dates
  • Posted Dates

A good place to start benching improvement areas are within your practice before comparing your metrics to that of groups outside of your hospital.

Step 3: Partner With A Pro.

In your quest to find out what processes and strategies work best, cost the least, and most importantly, leave patients healthier and happier, you’ll find that benchmarking will directly impact your bottom line.

However, creating spreadsheets, reports, and pulling data from the various areas of your ED is sometimes easier said than done. This is where software analytics tools specifically made for emergency departments can help.

In relation to patient emergency medicine billing, you have dynamic regulatory updates, payor issues and provider changes to contend with. This is why your best option is to partner with a professional team that can help standardize reporting for the metrics that are most important to your success, pull in-depth custom reports, and gain automated business intelligence from an easy-to-use dashboard to help you make data-driven business decisions.

Conclusion

If it can be measured, it can be managed. To be successful and contribute beneficially to your organization’s bottom line, it is crucial to integrate benchmarking as an ongoing improvement strategy. Remaining competitive entails continuously ramping up performance, especially in the healthcare sector where benchmarking is commonplace.

To learn more about partnering with an organization dedicated to your financial success — and one that constantly is measuring the state of emergency medicine — check out DuvaSawko today.

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