MGMA: Successful practices rely on patient surveys, helping hands

January 25, 2012
by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor
Successful medical practices have less bad debt, run patient satisfaction surveys, rely on nurse-practitioners and other assistants to meet staffing needs and are better able to collect money from patients, according to a new report.

The Medical Group Management Association's Performance and Practices of Successful Medical Groups: 2011 Report Based on 2010 Data, released Wednesday, looked at 549 practices culled from its 2010 yearly cost survey of medical practices.

The report found that successful practices had on average $6,900 to $14,000 less "bad debt" than other practices in the earlier surveys, when measuring fee-for-service activity for full-time physicians, according to a release. These practices were also better at collecting money. About half of the so-called better-performers got 90 to 100 percent of a patient's copay during the time of service, and they had less than one-tenth of their total accounts receivable more than four months old. In contrast, other practices had one-fifth to one-third of their accounts receivable older than 120 days, MGMA-ACMPE said.

Successful clinics also relied more on support staff, with better-performers spending more on assistants per full-time doctor. About 63 percent had hired nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners or physician assistants, the group said.

The star practices were also, it turns out, good listeners. The majority (60 percent) used formal patient surveys to suss out their customers' feelings, and over half (55 percent) in turn used these results to train doctors and staff, MGMA-ACMPE said. When it comes to the surveys themselves, better-performers asked their patients how they felt about scheduling, wait times, professionalism and overall quality of care.

However, MGMA-ACMPE notes the report, based on 2010 data, relied on voluntary participation, a fact which could skew the results.

MGMA merged with its standard-setting body, American College of Medical Practice Executives, late last year.