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MGMA Survey Explains Attributes for Better-Performing Medical Practices

January 25, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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In a report by the Englewood, Colo.-based Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), organizations deemed “better-performing medical practices,” excelled in four performance management categories:  profitability and cost management, productivity, capacity and staffing, accounts receivable and collection, and patient satisfaction. The report, Performance and Practices of Successful Medical Groups: 2011 Report Based on 2010, came from respondents to the MGMA annual Cost Survey. High performing practices demonstrated management behaviors that may be the key to their success.

Those who succeeded in patient satisfaction more often than not requested feedback on appointment availability (59.15 percent), professionalism of the staff (57.84 percent), wait times (56.54 percent), and patients' overall experience (60.46 percent). More than 60 percent used patient satisfaction surveys to evaluate and improve practice operations, and more than 55 percent educated physicians and staff about behavior based on survey results. 

In the area of profitability and cost management, better-performing medical practices reported less bad debt due to fee-for-service (FFS) activity per full-time-equivalent (FTE) physician. These groups reported approximately $6,900 to $14,000 less in bad debt than other practices. 

For accounts receivable and collections, high-performing  groups collecting their receivables more quickly than their peers. They had only seven to 10 percent of their total accounts receivable (A/R) in the 120+ days category. In contrast, the other groups had 19 to 35 percent of their total A/R in the 120+ day category, indicating that strong cash flow is crucial to the success of any practice. Additionally, 50 percent of better-performers reported collecting 90-100 percent of copayments at the time of service.

Better-performing practices in productivity implemented operational efficiencies to ensure strong provider productivity, including employing nonphysician providers such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners and certified nurse anesthetists (62.75 percent); as well as ensuring efficient patient flow through the practice (69.28 percent). Better-performers also reported higher support staff and ancillary support staff costs per FTE physician, ensuring optimal staffing to leverage physician time.

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