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GE Healthcare Camden Group Insights Blog

Meet the Practice: Physician Services

Posted by Matthew Smith on Feb 18, 2016 3:36:16 PM

doctors-300.pngThis Meet the Practice overview, examining the Physician Services practice, is the second in a series in which GE Healthcare Camden Group shares insights into our five newly aligned practice areas:

  • Care Design and Delivery
  • Physician Services
  • Population Health Management
  • Strategy and Leadership
  • Financial Advisory and Transactions

Physician Services

Practice Lead: Marc Mertz, Vice President

Explain the need and problem solved for clients by your practice

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act and a host of market changes, the challenges physicians and medical groups now face are tremendous. New payment models are emerging, consumerism is increasing, public reporting of quality measures and costs is on the rise, retail clinics and other new providers offer new competition, and EMRs and mobile health are fast becoming “table stakes.” As providers consolidate, find strength in size, and work to redesign care delivery, we make sure physician organizations are poised to succeed in a value-based world.

What are some of the top capabilities or offerings of the practice?

Our top offerings include:

  • Medical group performance assessment and improvement
  • Improving patient access
  • Improved clinic efficiency and work flow (with AccuTracker Software)
  • Physician/ Hospital alignment strategies
  • Physician compensation plan design
  • IPA and Medical group development/ M&A
  • Medical group organizational redesign (governance and management)
  • Revenue cycle management improvement
  • Physician onboarding strategies
  • Medical group performance monitoring and dashboard reports (partnership with dashboardMD)

What is the value or ROI that is provided by solving these challenges?

Our goal is to empower medical groups to better perform financially, clinically, and operationally. To achieve this goal, we work with each group to improve patient, physician, and staff satisfaction and engagement while also improving overall patient access to care. 

What synergies differentiate this practice area (and GE Healthcare Camden Group)?

Nearly all health systems or hospitals utilize employed or closely-affiliated physicians, and many of those groups underperform based on organizational objectives.  Physician Services helps clients improve medical group performance and outcomes.

To this point, our work has historically included assessment and development of implementation plans, but typically stopped short of activation. GE Healthcare Camden Group is now well-positioned to provide Physician Services clients with activation support and change acceleration that ensures long-term success and sustainability.

Another differentiator is our AccuTracker software—proprietary, mobile-enabled software developed by GE Healthcare Camden Group, and designed as an easy-to-use app that helps users time processes and track EMR efficiency. Using AccuTracker, you can track cycle times for clinical processes (e.g., clinics, urgent care centers, operating rooms, emergency departments) as well as non-clinical processes, such as revenue cycle management. Over time as more data is collected and aggregated, it will also allow you to benchmark your results against other organizations (organization names will not be disclosed) so you can identify areas for improvement, all from the convenience of a mobile device. The software is completely customizable; you can either use the pre-defined benchmark processes or create custom processes to track.

An overview video may be accessed here.

GE Healthcare Camden Group, AccuTracker

Topics: Medical Groups, Physician Practice, AccuTracker

Advanced Access: a Winning Approach for Patients, Providers, and Staff

Posted by Matthew Smith on Oct 5, 2015 3:14:13 PM

By Mary Witt, MSW, Senior Vice President, and William K. Faber, M.D., Vice President, The Camden Group

Advanced AccessAccess to the right medical care at the right time in the right setting improves patient satisfaction. It also attracts new patients, retains existing patients, supports safety, improves outcomes, and reduces cost. So why do so many medical practices still struggle to provide adequate access to achieve these goals?Traditional approaches to improving access have focused on:

  • Recruitment--which may be costly, impossible, or too much of a long-term challenge
  • Partnering with urgent care centers or retail clinics which do not facilitate continuity or an ongoing relationship with your medical practice
  • Managing demand through triage, which has only led to greater patient dis-satisfaction
  • Holding a fixed number of appointments for patients (which are never the right number) needing to be seen the day they call, often called "carve-out scheduling"

Under any of these approaches, physicians and staff struggle to meet the needs of today, as well as those of patients who have waited days or weeks for appointment.

Access may be improved significantly through practice optimization, and by employing the principles of advanced access. Advanced access is appointment availability that reflects the real-time demand of patients and, therefore, reduces or eliminates queuing. It is a philosophy that focuses on “doing today’s work today.” However, it is more than just changing the schedule. It is an innovative way of thinking about patient care. It emphasizes improvement of the total care experience, from the initial telephone call to follow-up care. Advanced access works because it predicts demand and then focuses on maximizing daily capacity so that daily demand can be met. It also does not occur in a vacuum. It requires that the processes in a practice be reviewed and often modified. 

Here are five tried and true principles:

1. Understand Your Demand and Capacity

It is well known that Monday is always the day of highest demand for primary care providers (or Tuesday after a three-day weekend). Tuesday often has the second greatest demand, and demand on Wednesday through Friday is about equal. Most patients would appreciate some early evening and weekend availability too. We also know that winter flu season is the busiest time of year and that if a practice performs school physicals, July and August will have greater demand.

Does your provider capacity match patient demand?  Do you maximize provider availability for your high-demand hours?  You may find that you have too many physicians working mid-day Thursday and not enough on Monday morning. Talk with your providers about the mismatch of appointment availability to the known hours of patient demand. Let them work out a fair distribution within the parameters you give them. Most of the redistribution can often be accomplished voluntarily. Provider vacations can be managed to minimize coverage holes at times of greatest demand.

2. Decrease Appointment Types

Much inefficiency and unnecessary queuing results from the creation of too many appointment types. Many systems try to handle demand by creating more appointment types to “manage” the schedule, but that has only created additional complexity and limited appointment availability. Best practice is to reduce appoint types to two: a short and a long (with the long being twice the length of a short). You may decide to have 15 and 30-minute appointments or 20 and 40-minute appointments for instance. Relegate all patient needs to one of the two. This gives your scheduler much more flexibility to get patients in. Also, if you know that a certain patient always runs over, give them a longer appointment.

3. Manage Your Daily Appointment Inventory

Many providers clog up all their future appointment availability for those who are acutely ill by unnecessarily scheduling follow-up appointments. A protocol change, for instance, of seeing patients for blood pressure checks every quarter instead of every other month immediately creates capacity. The same is true for diabetics or anyone with a chronic disease. Of course, different patients need to be seen on different intervals due to the severity of their disease or their compliance with treatment. The point is to be mindful of that need rather than rescheduling routinely in a pattern that limits future availability.

Use a morning and afternoon huddle with your medical assistant to review the schedule and plan for the day. Identify patients whose needs could be met by a phone call to free up space on the schedule. If someone being seen today has a future appointment, take care of both issues during the first appointment if possible.

4. Create Contingency Plans

Create provider care teams to ensure that vacations, sick time and temporary absences do not significantly impact same-day appointments. Proactively develop plans to handle peak demand such as flu season and school physicals.

5. Measure and Monitor Access on an Ongoing Basis

Unless access is routinely measured (third available appointment), it is easy to fall into old habits and slip into postponing work until tomorrow. When contingency plans are implemented, they need to be monitored to identify what is working and what is not so that problems can be quickly identified and resolved before backlog creep occurs.

Advanced Access Is Win-Win

Everyone wins with advanced access: patients, physicians, staff, and management by:

  • Increasing patient satisfaction
  • Improving clinical outcomes for patients through better continuity of care (patients now see their own doctor) and greater emphasis on prevention
  • Enhancing quality of practice life for physicians and staff
  • Increasing efficiency in patient flow
    • Fewer no shows
    • Less phone calls
    • Minimizes re-work
  • Decreasing costs through decline in ER and urgent care visits
  • Potentially increasing in net revenue
    • More new patients
    • Ability to do more for patient through max-packing
AccuTracker, Workflows

Ms. Witt is a senior vice president with The Camden Group and has over 25 years of healthcare experience. She has held management positions in hospitals, health systems, and management services organizations (MSOs). She has extensive experience in medical group and integrated delivery system development and management. This includes developing patient-centered medical homes, practice management, performance improvement, physician compensation, managed care, strategic planning, healthcare marketing, and physician recruitment. She may be reached at mwitt@thecamdengroup.com or 424-201-3971.

 

Dr. Faber is a vice president with The Camden Group. As a physician executive, he specializes in the development of accountable care organizations and clinically integrated networks, physician engagement, and health information technology. Prior to joining The Camden Group, Dr. Faber served as Senior Vice President of the Rochester General Health System in New York, where he guided the development of the system’s clinical integration program and assisted more than 150 providers at 44 sites through the conversion process from paper records to an electronic health records system. He may be reached at wfaber@thecamdengroup.com or 312-775-1703.

 

Topics: William K. Faber MD, Mary Witt, Medical Group Efficiency, AccuTracker, Advanced Access, Medical Group Transformation

New Mobile App for Healthcare Providers Tracks Workflows and EMR Efficiency

Posted by Matthew Smith on Aug 27, 2015 1:37:18 PM

In response to the need for healthcare providers to improve performance and efficiency as a result of healthcare reform, The Camden Group introduces AccuTracker, a new mobile software that helps track cycle times and electronic medical records (EMR) use. Using AccuTracker, organizations are better able to apply Lean and Six Sigma principles to identify and reduce inefficiencies in their workflows and optimize performance.

Developed by the performance improvement experts at The Camden Group, AccuTracker is an easy-to-use mobile app that allows users to capture cycle times for clinical processes (e.g., medical practices, urgent care centers, operating rooms, emergency departments) as well as non-clinical processes, such as revenue cycle management, all from the convenience of a phone or tablet. This data is hosted on secure servers and exportable in editable CSV files. Whether the organization is a small clinic or a multi-hospital health system, the app enables the organization to quickly identify breakdowns, bottlenecks, and waste in day-to-day workflows.

Over time, as more data is collected and aggregated, AccuTracker will also allow users to benchmark and compare performance against other organizations to help identify areas for improvement. In addition, there is a built-in module which helps assess the efficiency of the EMR through the tracking of mouse clicks, screen views, and the amount of typing in the EMR. This module also documents how long providers spend on each component of the patient visit.

"In this new value-based healthcare environment, efficiency is critical to achieving success," says Steven T. Valentine, president of The Camden Group. "With AccuTracker, healthcare providers can increase patient and physician satisfaction by improving workflow and performance -- avoiding unnecessary wait times and redundancies."

Most recently, The Camden Group assisted in a major workflow assessment initiative for a large independent primary care medical group with approximately 500 physicians in 200 primary care and 9 urgent care sites through the country. By using AccuTracker to perform time and efficiency studies in 50 locations, a potential time savings of an average of one hour per day per physician was identified.

For more information on AccuTracker, visit www.thecamdengroup.com/accutracker.

To schedule an AccuTracker demonstration, please click the button below:

AccuTracker, Workflows

Topics: Electronic Medical Records, Workflow Redesign, AccuTracker, Six Sigma

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