Are Your Providers at Full Capacity?

The AAMC predicts a shortage of 90,000 primary care physicians in the next decade and immediate action must be taken to train more doctors.

But here’s what the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has to say, “if health systems did a better job of utilizing existing resources through more efficient practice models and better coordination, they could better meet patients’ needs.”

If this is possible, what does a better job actually look like?

Match supply and demand by analyzing availability vs. booking patterns
The results of better understanding patient booking behavior, best times of day for different appointment types and reworking a physician’s schedule accordingly, typically reveal hidden capacity. In fact, through optimized schedules we have seen groups add as many as 7 additional appointments per month per provider.

Identify booking disparity among physicians
Most agree that primary care docs are booked at capacity. But the reality is, the way physicians manage their calendars is extraordinarily varied and unused capacity hides in the averages. Some use double bookings extensively to protect against no-shows, and sacrifice some patient satisfaction. Others seek to target only peak hours and try to guess those peaks. Just because a physician is at full capacity doesn’t mean their capacity is optimal. This optimization problem should be solved by management in conjunction with physicians, who have the data and bandwidth necessary to set service levels that maximize patients seen and minimize waste.

Take action
Managers responsible for maximizing physician utilization should look at a weekly report of how many slots have been made available and how many slots have been filled. This report should be both historical and forward-looking, giving practice leaders the availability to look at the next week, find open slots, and proactively market physicians who have capacity “left on the table”. Physicians not offering enough availability can be benchmarked against their peers and managed proactively to increase utilization.

To learn more about the coming physician shortage and how technology can help, please read our executive brief: “Physician Shortage” is Really a Demand-Capacity Imbalance.

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See also:

Technology Can Prevent the Physician Shortage Crisis

Greater Efficiency Can Solve the Physician Shortage Problem