That is a question often asked medical practices, especially primary care. As we learn more about preventive health care and being proactive in our wellness initiatives, it is appropriate to have regular checkups. This same thought process should apply to medical practices and other health care entities. We call it an operational assessment. It can also be termed a diagnostic analysis of all non-clinical operations.
The Practices that most often turn to such reviews are those who clearly have problems, whether in personnel, billing, compliance, or other areas. However, the really good practices also appreciate the fact that on occasion they need a wellness checkup, i.e., an operational assessment.
This review should encompass all areas of non-clinical operations to include personnel management, compliance, compensation (including physicians and other providers), front-office processes, managed care, financial management and assessment, and billing and collections issues.
Following is a list of areas that need to be analyzed in an operational assessment. The operational checkup or assessment should include areas of strategic analysis, which should involve the entire practice, including its providers (both partners and otherwise), in a thorough analysis of where the practice is going and where it is currently. The next list identifies areas to be reviewed in the strategic portion of this assessment.
Who should do the assessment? Many practices have the talent within their own organizations to do much of this. However, most will want to engage an outside consultant with an unbiased outlook and a different perspective to complete their review. Those involved in the day to day operations of the practice are already busy with their own workload, and it's harder to spot problems when you live with them everyday.
How often should this be done? For maximum results and efficiency, our recommendation is to complete a review at least every other year. Some practices may need to focus on specific areas, such as compliance, including procedural coding, one year alternating with other areas of operations, such as billing, etc., in following years. These areas of consideration and evaluation should be based on the specific needs of the practice.
Responsibilities of Physician
Responsibilities of Staff
Layout and Design
Adaptation for Expansion
Medical Record/Report Filing
Evaluate Reliability/Efficiency of Computer System
Fraud and Embezzlement
Practice management reporting
Electronic medical records
Medical Record Documentation
Adherence to Government Regulations
OSHA and ADA
Ethical and Legal Standards
Personnel and Payroll Records
Policies and Procedures
Evaluation and Recommendation for Internal and External Marketing Strategies
Longer-term Strategic Planning Initiatives
Interviews with Physicians and Appropriate Staff
Organizational Hierarchy Review
Collaborative Initiatives Review
Governance and Leadership Review
Divestiture versus Continued Operations as a Part of the Practice
Opportunities to Reduce the Practice Subsidies to Physician Practices
Max Reiboldt, CPA is Managing Partner/CEO at The Coker Group
Reproduced by permission from The Coker Group, CokerConnection, (Roswell, GA: The Coker Group, 2003), Vol. 3, No. 12, December 2003 by The Coker Group.