For me, part of being successful in practice is the ongoing act of setting and attempting to achieve goals. Every year we set goals, both personal and business related, and most years these are met. My staff enjoys being a part of the process and always has a shared sense of achievement. But how do we measure these as successful? And what is worth measuring?
The easiest goal to set is monetary in nature, but in reality this is probably the least important one we measure, as it doesn’t reflect a metric that is quality oriented. Quality and customer service are more important to me, as those will always translate to success in the future if we deliver on those goals.
Quality is often measured in terms of scores that patients give for our services, such as via Google reviews, RateMD, or other patient satisfaction surveys. We utilize a service called Solution Reach that offers each of our patients the opportunity to rate us after their visits. Initially I was leery of offering this and resisted the idea for way too long. Several years into it, I can only say that this is by far the best and most helpful metric we use. Contrary to my worries, our patients are overwhelmingly positive in their reviews. From those ocassional reviews that are negative, we often learn significant lessons.
Negative or neutral reviews often lead us to explore areas where we can improve and set goals around them. This year, for example, we discovered that our wait time to obtain an appointment was causing challenges for established patients. Investigation into this issue led to the determination that our schedule had been altered accidentally to close off needed appointment slots. Within days, this problem was easily solved.
Occasionally, goals revolve around new procedures and the education of staff members regarding these treatments in order to allow a better experience when prospective patients call us to set up an appointment. We were fortunate to discover, via a “secret shopper,” that if a staff member who was fluent on these procedures wasn’t available, the prospective patient was sent to a voicemail. Clearly, this wasn’t a great example of good customer service. We now have better methods of training and more staff who are able to discuss options in order to avoid sending anyone to voicemail.
Monetary goals do factor into our overall picture, but they aren’t the main focus. We try to increase our revenues for various procedures when possible and tabulate growth versus declines on a monthly basis. This allows us the opportunity to adjust advertising during the year and lets us know when we may be forgetting to mention procedures in ads or marketing pieces.
Our billing department is asked to provide a monthly aging accounts receivable (A/R) and explanations regarding any concerning features. They often work with our front desk to manage copay and deductible collections in order to help them on the back side with their A/R management.
Opportunities exist to affirm goals for every employee, and this sets them on a path during the year to feel valued and find success. I encourage my colleagues to adapt this or their own version of this method, as it may lead to happier and more fulfilled staff over the year!
—Joel Schlessinger, MD, FAAD
Chief Cosmetic Surgery Editor