Are Your Doctors Seeing Enough Patient Time?
April 15, 2023
Having the right people, working on the right things, at the right time is critical for any organization, but it is especially important in the field of healthcare. Ask yourself – are you providers seeing enough of the right patients at the right time? Tracking provider utilization is one of the best ways to gauge how your organization is performing, and improvements will lead to greater success for your organization.
What is provider utilization?
Provider utilization encompasses several different metrics that provide insight into what the providers are spending their time on while working. The vast majority of a provider’s work can be separated into three categories:
- Billable patient time
- Non-billable patient time
- Non-patient time
Each organization has a sweet spot for how much time their providers should be spending on each of the above categories in order to optimize their talents and financial contribution. Billable patient time is the biggest profit driver and therefor, should be the biggest slice of the pie. Non-billable patient time is important but does not directly improve profit. This category includes time spent with patients where the insurance claim gets denied, a pro-bono service or simply spending more than the allotted time on a patient. Although providing quality care is important and can have a positive impact on the organization, non-billable patient time must be kept in check to avoid losing profit margin. Non-patient time includes administrative activities such as scheduling, charting, documentation, as well as break time and waiting periods in between patients. Minimizing non-patient time is critical for efficient operation and servicing more patients overall.
Provider utilization calculation
Calculating provider utilization is not difficult, but you have to have the right data. If you are not tracking patient time and non-patient time for your providers, the time to start is now.
How to calculate provider utilization:
Why does provider utilization matter?
Beyond improving efficiency and maximizing the talent of your providers to see more patients, improving provider utilization will create flexibility and improved satisfaction for your providers. Let’s take a look at a typical family care physician that works roughly 50 hours a week or 2,600 hours per year. If they worked 65% on billable patient time, that would leave roughly 910 hours of non-billable time on the table for the year. A 10% improvement in the utilization can shift 260 hours of non-billable time to billable time, equivalent to a little over a month of the physician’s work schedule. That is a significant amount of financial opportunity, as well as an opportunity to provide quality care and better serve your community. Depending on your financial situation you may look to reinvest that time back to the physician by offering extra time off or flexibility in their schedule with half-days. Better flexibility and life-to-work balance can prevent physician burnouts and ultimately lead to better workplace environment.