How to Improve Communication Around Productivity
When it comes to productivity, communication between practice leaders and Rev Cycle team members is important. Practice executives need to provide direction, clarity, and targets for their team. Being able to communicate about that in the practice is very helpful to your teams and gives them some of the resources that they need to be able to work on productivity. It's also helpful to be able to talk to doctors about this.
There are three things that are helpful to be able to communicate about productivity:
- Baseline - Where are you today?
- Benchmark - How do you compare to the national average?
- Target - Where do you want to be?
Baseline, Benchmark, & Target
Here are some examples of how baseline, benchmark, and target play out in a normal 20 doctor practice. Let's say this 20 doctor practice has a baseline 25 Encounters per Hour (EPH). That is how productive their revenue cycle team is today. Not measuring EPH today? Download our free eBook, What the Heck is EPH?!
The national average is 21 EPH, so that is the benchmark for any practice. When it comes to communication, the first thing that the executive leader of this 20 doctor practice should do is celebrate the fact that they are above the average. The national average is 21; they are at 25. But they should not stop there. The next step is communicating to the team their target. Let's say their target is 105 EPH. These three things provide clarity for the team: They are at 25 EPH (baseline); they are outperforming the national average (benchmark); they want to get to 105 Encounters per Hour per person (target.) And when they get there, they are going to celebrate.
Common Productivity Pitfalls
When communicating about productivity with the team, a common misconception may arise. We call this the false choice fallacy. The false choice fallacy is the common belief among rev cycle teams that you cannot have both productivity and accuracy. As you aim your team towards productivity, the push-back may be that they will not be as accurate. They may miss revenue opportunities or mistakes and cause the practice to lose money.
Can you have both productivity and accuracy? Tradition says no. That's what a lot of people will tell you. The data, however, says yes. We analyzed a data set of over 12 million encounters. When we've looked at this data, here is what we found:
- On average, practices who are close to the national average of 21 EPH removed $0.49 per encounter.
- On average, practices who are highly productive, closer to 105 EPH, found an additional $1.66 per encounter in revenue leakage.
Teams who are average in productivity spend a lot of time going behind the doctors and trying to find and capture missed revenue. They also find and correct mistakes, such as upcoding or changing an encounter from billable to post-op. The problem is that they are keeping up with this all in their head and manually reviewing every encounter for these errors. On the flip side, highly productive rev cycle teams take advantage of automation and custom rules. The technology that they utilize helps them capture those mistakes every single time, and that is why they have a much higher average of captured revenue leakage. Now obviously the data does not prove causation, but it does prove correlation and bust the myth that says if you are more productive you will be less accurate.
There is a huge ROI for practices looking to improve their productivity. For an average 26 provider group who sees 520 patients a day, the productivity savings are $120,000 a year or more. But the upside opportunity for them if they were able to reallocate some of that time to finding more of the missed revenue opportunities can be an extra $160,000 a year. From a leadership perspective, that can change a cost center into a revenue center.
When it comes to improving our communication about productivity, having the right kind of data is key. This allows the "boots on the ground" team better communicate about ways to be more productive. Not only do you need the right kind of data, but you also need someone on your team who understands the data and can translate data into actionable recommendations to improve outcomes. We interpret the data for our clients by categorizing encounters into 5 different buckets: Clean, Automated, Corrected, False Positive, and Unprompted Changes.
48% of the time, encounters are already clean when they arrive in the hands of the revenue cycle team. While great to quantify that, the more important thing to note is what is happening the other 52% of the time. It may be tempting to look at the bigger buckets first, but what our data coaches would tell you is to zero in on the Unprompted Changes bucket. This is the first thing we look at because it is the secret to unlock significant productivity gains. The Unprompted Changes bucket is a result of rev cycle teams who have a lot of valuable local knowledge but look through 91% of the data to get to that last 9%. Instead of manually reviewing every encounter, this team needs to figure out how to find the last 9% without looking at 100% of the encounters. That is the secret to unlocking productivity.
Having data allows us to communicate better about how we are going to improve productivity. From the executive level, to the rev cycle team, to the doctors - data helps you set the baseline, benchmark, and target, it helps you review and adjust your progress along the way, and it helps you communicate that progress across the practice.