By Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO
August 2, 2023
Let’s talk about my favorite topic – numbers! 🤓 I think it’s super-fun to track and evaluate metrics, but it’s important to make sure you’re not tracking too many. That can make them lose their importance!
So, take a step back and make sure you’re focusing on what’s important for your business today and tomorrow, not yesterday.
I’ve noticed that some doctors track too many metrics (and I’m guilty of that too sometimes!), while others don’t track any at all. If you are one of those who are not tracking any metrics, and just not sure where to start, here are some suggestions.
Monthly Production & Receipts
The first and most obvious metrics to track are monthly production and receipts compared to the previous year. It’s important to set goals for percentage growth and break it down per month. Receipts are monies deposited in the bank. Production is the amount of money you billed out and believe you will receive.
For the past two years, we’ve been exceeding our goals by double, which is crazy (we all know these last three years HAVE been bonkers! ) This year, our growth is more normal, but still good. I like to set a 10 percent growth goal for the year and estimate whether each particular month will be a little more or a little less than that. I have become pretty good at estimating this.
Depending on your EHR, and how you set it up, tracking the percentage of receipts vs. production can be really important. Many offices overlook this metric because they haven’t configured their EHR to reflect their contracted fees. Instead, they use their “Usual and Customary” totals. And guess what? When the Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) roll in, they input what they were paid and write off the rest. That means their receipts-to-production percentage can be as low as 40-50 percent!
We set up in our EHR almost all of the contracted prices per insurance. Our receipts/production percentage averages 93 percent. Tracking this number has been super-helpful in the past, as it can alert us to an issue in our billing, usually due to an electronic billing error. For example, through tracking this metric, we once discovered that an insurance carrier hadn’t been paying us. This metric also gives you a MUCH better estimate how much money you really made in a day.
Inputting the contracted fees seems like it would be time consuming, but it really isn’t that bad. Take your top five insurance plans and input the contracted exam amounts into all your exam codes first. It won’t take more than 10 minutes. Then as the EOBs come in, go into your EHR and change the amounts as you are inputting the EOBs. Taking that extra minute each time until most of it is updated will save whoever is inputting your EOBs hours over the course of a year!
Next, I like to see an office track two productivity numbers. The first one is Receipts/Full Exam, otherwise known as Dollars per Patient. Track this metric per office and per doctor. Again, receipts are monies in the bank. Full Exam is an exam that results in a glasses or contact-lens prescription. It does NOT include office visits and contact lens follow-ups. There is not a lot of good data on what your number should be. Around $375-$400 is probably average, but look at what yours was for the last two years and see if it is growing.
Other Articles to Explore
I see this number fluctuate significantly depending on the type of practice a doctor has. High-end opticals and/or a really high Glasses Capture Rate will make this number larger than average. Also, if you do a lot of myopia management, dry eye procedures, or amniotic membranes, these can make your average higher too. If you do a lot of Medicaid, this might make your number lower. I encourage doctors to track this metric including their Medicaid patients, but also evaluate it separately by excluding Medicaid patients from both the numerator and the denominator.
I like to see doctors track this per office and per doctor. I don’t see many doctors track this one, but it is definitely one of my favorites! The average for this metric is probably about $450-$500 an hour from the resources I can find. I think this is an area where many doctors could improve by working on efficiencies, hiring more staff and seeing more patients per hour.
Our receipts per clinical hour are over $1,000, so I know this metric can improve in many practices. Our associate doctors get paid on percentage of receipts, so this metric can tell them how much they make per hour or per day. If this number is below $450, I would really work on how to get your office more productive.
So, those are the metrics I think are most important to track, but I also love so many others! Pairs of Lenses/Full Exam, Frames/Full Exam, Total Medical Dollars/Full Exam, Annual Contact Lens Supply Percentage, Optician Receipts/Hour Worked, #Patients/Optician/Hour, Recall Rate, Optomap Percentage, Missed Appointment percentage, History Online percentage, New Patients per Month, Optify (or whatever virtual storefront you use) percentage and a few others. I know, I know, I track too many metrics! 😅
FYI, I do not track any of these personally except my own patient numbers. Our doctors all track their own numbers and our staff are assigned a metric to input into a Google Sheet.
If you are not tracking any metrics, start with 2-3 and work from there! If you track too many, and they have become unimportant, reevaluate which ones you really need to be evaluating!
What’s your favorite metric??