Why External Benchmarking is Important for Cardiovascular Programs

Thursday, February 21, 2019 | Lori Walsh

As Peter Drucker so famously said, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

Whether you work in healthcare, financial services, manufacturing or another industry, tracking metrics and comparing them to external benchmarks is critical to assessing performance, and monitoring how you rank against competitors and peers. External benchmarks aid in goal setting and provide critical data points for decision-making. They help healthcare administrators put status updates and recommendations in context for physicians.

Benchmarks can also help identify program gaps and help leaders focus resources when improvement is needed. If benchmarking data indicates that your new patient volumes are in the 20th percentile, it could indicate that you have an access problem and should evaluate the number of new patient slots on your schedule every day.

Given the importance of external benchmarking to our membership, MedAxiom offers a platform that makes metric assessment easier. During the first quarter of every year, members submit their program metrics to the MedAxcess database online. We compile it and make it accessible to all members beginning in April.

This year is no different. As I write this, we are in the middle of our first data collection period, which ends February 28. You'll still be able to submit throughout the year, but we aim to get the majority of the metrics collected by the end of February. In March we'll crunch the numbers, and in April we'll report the results of our initial analysis at the annual spring conference.

If you haven't already submitted your CPT and FTE data this year, please click here.  We've made the data entry process easy as well, all you have to do is enter information on staffing, revenue, expenses and AR, then you’ll have a wealth of comparative information at your fingertips! It takes a bit of preparation on your part, but it's time well spent given the vast benefits you and other members receive from the benchmark data. Here are a few of them: 

  1. Only benchmarking database of its kind. Simply put, MedAxcess is the only cardiovascular services specific benchmarking database in the U.S. There is no other platform like it in our specialty. While certainly other organizations offer some excellent physician compensation and revenue cycle metrics each year, they do not collect the depth of data MedAxiom does when it comes to specialty-specific indicators such as device clinic volumes and metrics.
  2. High participation strengthens the data. Last year we had 186 programs submit their data, representing 3,935 physicians. The data in MedAxcess reflects a significant number of providers, which makes it a highly representative sample.
  3. Physician-centric. We focus on the benchmarks that healthcare administrators and physicians’ value most, such as new and return visit volumes, panel size, hospital procedures, work RVUs, compensation model, and organization type.
  4. Dashboard display. Last year, we launched dashboard displays as part of the new version of MedAxcess. It's received a lot of positive feedback. The dashboard displays various metrics using a "percentile dial" image. You can instantly see your own metric, as well as where it falls against your peers. More than just the percentile number, the dial shows how your data compares to the database, displaying as green, yellow, or red sections on the dial. The dashboard can be filtered to show Key Indicators, Financials, Volumes and Utilization, and Physician Compensation and Productivity.
  5. Dynamic data filtering and comparison tools. We don't just give you a PDF or a static data set. MedAxcess has built-in filtering capabilities that enable administrators to filter criteria like sub-specialization, ownership, compensation model, geography and others. You can also view data by departments: cardiology, vascular surgery and cardiovascular surgery (alone or in any combination). You can sort the data by color, trend, metric and more to better visualize how your practice compares to the overall population. You can "slice and dice" the data using hundreds of scenarios. There is no other benchmarking resource for our specialty with these types of data display and filtering criteria.

I demonstrated these features in a Webinar last year. If you missed it, you can watch it on demand here, to see the power of these features.

  1. Ongoing enhancements. Last year, our developers made some significant enhancements to the platform, based on member feedback. The update includes the dashboard display I've described, a refreshed user interface, and several other major features:
  • Benchmarking and trend data on the same page - Previously, you had to toggle between the benchmark data and trending graphs. Having them display on the same page makes it simpler to make your analysis.
  • The ability to chart and filter by measure - This makes analysis really granular, filtering all the way down to a specific measure, or combination of measures.
  • Updated export to PowerPoint feature - No more taking screen shots, cropping, and pasting them into your presentation. You can quickly export metrics data, individual metric dials, and other elements of your analysis into a PowerPoint presentation.

If I've piqued your enthusiasm for using benchmarking data, I've done my job today. I also hope that you are motivated to submit your numbers. 

If you decide to enter the information in several chunks instead of all at once, we have a tracking tool that reminds you which sections you've completed, and which ones you still need to complete. There are tutorial videos to help you.

And by the way, all hope is not lost if you can't get your data entered by February 28. Although yours won't then be included in our initial analysis in April, you will still be able to submit later in the year and be included in future releases.

What are you waiting for? Submit your metrics HERE.

Illustration: Lee Sauer

About the Author
Lori Walsh

With an obvious passion for what she does, Lori has worked in healthcare for nearly 20 years, including nine years as the Director of Operations for Heart Clinic Arkansas. In her role as Executive Vice President of Membership & Operations, Lori uses her healthcare background to help our current and prospective members build relationships within the industry and maximize the benefits of MedAxiom's exclusive educational and research support services to improve their programs. Lori also takes her vast operations experience and applies it towards our client practices in the areas of operational efficiency, financial performance, workflow redesign, strategic planning and business development.

To contact, email: lwalsh@medaxiom.com

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