Manage Your Practice

Is Your Group Running on Autopilot?

July 10, 2013

I read a quote from the owner of a private boat rescue service, sort of like a floating Auto Club, who said that they have a rule of thumb: the boats with the most electronics are those most likely to run aground. That’s because those boat owners place so much faith in the electronic reports of location and depth that they fail to actually look where they’re going.

A similar situation affects medical groups.

Take, for example, a medical group that receives comprehensive billing service reports replete with dashboards illustrating all types of practice metrics. All appears to be not just OK, but glowingly wonderful: The group is on the right course.

But those reports may or may not be correct. And, even if they are true, they can only provide a partial picture of the group’s business world, because they do not contain all of the essential information necessary to lead the group.

Consider the case of a hospital-based medical group that is in trouble. Dissatisfaction among the rank and file over the assignment of cases and the amount of compensation leads to an eruption over leadership.The hospital is on the group’s case, pressing for a major change in structure: bring more “fairness” to the group, make everyone a partner, and perhaps do a national search for new leadership.

But the group’s leaders say that the “dashboard” indicates that everything is okay.

My unfortunate observation is this this type of problem, in varying costume, is far too common.

Group leaders, and sometimes all group members, are seduced by reports that they perhaps don’t understand or which perhaps don’t actually make sense or report the truth, or they place all of their faith on reports which are highly accurate but which contain no data on matters outside the scope of those reports  – such as issues involving compensation, the relationship between group physicians and hospital staff, and issues of importance to referring physicians and patients.

Just as on the sea, the data that’s collected and reported is of value, but you’ve got to keep your eyes open as well.

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