How A Retrospective Analysis Can Bolster Practice Profitability

By Kevin McDonald, DPM

Interpreting The Statistics To Improve Future Promotional Decisions

The first part of the process of retrospective analysis is data collection. Typically, it is more efficient to plan what information will be studied in advance of the practice analysis. For example, in order to facilitate periodic analysis, the practice being analyzed here keeps the following monthly statistics:    • patient charges    • collections    • collection percentage (defined as     [collections plus insurance write-offs]     / patient charges)    • new patient visits    • total patient visits    • charges per patient visit    • collections per patient visit    • expenses per patient visit    • net profits    • accounts receivable    • number of surgical cases    These statistics form the parameters for monitoring the practice and provide clues for areas that need improvement.    The next part of the process of retrospective analysis is data interpretation. You must evaluate the information based on the relevant circumstances as opposed to just blindly accepting and acting upon it. For example, one must consider the following points when evaluating the aforementioned statistical information.    • Patients referred by nursing homes and home health agencies tend to require treatment plans with low reimbursements.    • Patients referred by individuals contacted via personal marketing efforts show up in the “family and friends” column.    • The direct results of paid media advertising campaigns appeared to decrease over time.    • Perhaps the reason the advertisements did not directly draw more new patients was due to poor design of the advertisements. Rem Jackson of Newsletters, Inc. points out that the best ads have an offer attached. The ads used by this practice lacked “an offer.”    • Perhaps some of the “family and friends” and “doctor” referrals occurred after they were reminded about the practice via the paid advertisements.    • Ongoing advertising campaigns hopefully have an indirect benefit to the practice that is hard to measure.    • Analysis of the “doctor” referrals revealed it was often the receptionist, nurse, referral coordinator or even the patient who actually picked the podiatrist.    • The expensive health club bulletin board ad only drew two confirmed patients to the practice. However, the board had a holder for business cards for the practice, which required a steady supply of new cards throughout the year.    • Practice financial statistics reveal that the practice expenses per new patient totaled $177.44 in 2006. The practice revenue per new patient is a confidential statistic.

Forming A New Game Plan For New Patient Referrals

The final step of the retrospective analysis for practice improvement process is analytic action. Analysis without action tends to be a waste of time. The owner of the practice in question made the following decisions after collecting and interpreting the new patient referral source data.    • Appreciate the importance of existing patients to the vitality of the practice and continue the effort to maintain and strengthen these relationships    • Increased communications and outreach to the local medical doctors (and the associated ancillary personnel) will be a point of emphasis.    • Revamp the practice Web site, utilize search optimization and a “request for appointment” tab in an effort to improve the Internet response. Develop a practice brochure that will complement the Web site and the rest of the practice marketing materials.    • You should “pulse” paid media advertising campaigns to decrease overall expenditures since it was noted that the effectiveness of media ads to directly draw in new patients faded over time.    • Design advertisements from the patient’s perspective rather than the doctor’s perspective in an effort to stand out from the crowd.    • Further scrutinize yellow pages advertising. Total expenditures for this form of advertising will likely be reduced over time.    • The external sign at the main office was a fantastic investment. Accordingly, when the new satellite office opens next year, the owner will seek to install a large, attractive sign at this location.    • Next year, skip the health fair that had a $300 booth fee.    • Do not renew the bulletin board ad at the health club.

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