MGMA: Productive, profitable practices focus on workflow

February 8, 2012

MGMA reveals that its top-performing groups share characteristics in four areas. Find out what it takes to thrive in this tough economy.

The most productive and profitable group practices also have the most efficient workflows, according to an analysis by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

The MGMA released a report on practices that excelled in four management categories: profitability and cost management; productivity, patient capacity and staffing; accounts receivable and collection; and patient satisfaction.

“The most productive practices are utilizing their staff and teams in the most appropriate ways,” Todd Evenson, MGMA analyst, told eConsult. “It’s all about having the right people doing the right jobs at the right time.”

Primary care groups studied were more productive overall than other specialties based on patient visits and services performed, Evenson says, but were less profitable due to the lower reimbursement for typical primary care evaluation and management codes.

“What we’re finding is that some groups are thriving despite some really challenging economic times,” Everson says.

The report, “MGMA Performance and Practices of Successful Medical Groups: 2011 Report Based on 2010 Data,” was derived from survey information provided by 549 practices. Here’s how they performed:

Profitability and cost management. Better-performing medical practices reported less bad debt 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% of their total accounts receivable (A/R) in the 120-plus days category. In contrast, the other groups had 19% to 35% of their total A/R in the 120-plus day category, indicating that strong cash flow is crucial to the success of any practice. Additionally, half of the better-performing groups reported collecting 90% to 100% of copayments 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 midlevel providers and certified nurse anesthetists (63%). Better performers also 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%), professionalism of the staff (58%), wait times (57%), and patients’ overall experience (60%). More than 60% used patient satisfaction surveys to evaluate and improve practice operations, and more than 55% educated physicians and staff about behavior based on survey results.

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